Self-deprecation is worth its weight in smoldering phoenix-ashes and baby unicorn tears.
Published on April 22, 2008 By SanChonino In Blogging

More awesome Madrid!  You know you get bored by it.

--

11 Apr 2008.  1:02am.

After the Biblioteca Real, we separated - but as we were leaving, Carolina asked if I wanted to come to dinner with them.  I answered in the affirmative, and we exchanged mobile numbers.

Around 10pm my mobile rang, and I was off to meet them for dinner by the opera house.  (Gotta love Spain's version of dinnertime - 9pm at the earliest.)

I arrived just as they did, and as we gathered they asked questions about my name.  Due to difficulties in pronouncing my first name, they all decided to just call me Jones ("Like Indiana," Carlos laughed).  They then once again introduced themselves and made me play the 'repeat our names' game.  I got almost all of them, and we headed towards the restaurant - Fresc Co, and all-you-can-eat salad bar joint.

It was a wonderful time spent with them, getting to know them all.  They are quite the dynamic group of people, from Asunta who is completely withdrawn and quiet, to Gloria who is outspoken, brazen, and frankly hilarious.

I carefully positioned myself by Carolina again, drawn to her paper-thin skin and wet, sad eyes.  As we ate, the conversation raged from one extreme to the other.  I told old mission stories about dog bites and witnessing murders, slammed doors and successes, and they were all impressed that I would leave everything for two years just to serve God.  I used the opportunity to share a little bit about the gospel.

Eventually the topic of conversation changed to relationships, and they all went around the table telling of their current boyfriends.  They asked me about a girlfriend, and I answered, "The last two encounters I had were . . . messy.  So for now I'm single - blissfully."

Carolina, next in the round-table, responded, "Me too.  I just had a really bad breakup, after four years together."

If I weren't so not keen on dating someone right now, I would've probably been excited to hear that.

We finished eating, and everyone but me got a tea or coffee to sip on as we chatted.  It was a pleasant way to spend an evening that was going to be filled with rereading Niebla and wishing the idiots honking in the street would stop.

As we walked back after being kicked out at closing time, we passed a music store and I expressed how I missed my sweet guitars, especially Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms.  Carolina laughed almost uncontrollably upon hearing her name, and her giggles made me smile.  She told me she plays guitar and sings in a heavy metal band in Tarragona, and I demanded that she call me for their next performance.

We reached the metro station and Carolina explained that she had to head back home early the next day, and consequently wouldn't be around for our activities the following day, but she promised to call me next week so we could hang out.

I parted from the rest, giving the customary Mediterranean farewell to each (except Carlos) on each cheek, and headed back to the hostel - tired, full, but happy.

2:33pm.

I stand in the inner sanctum of the Real Academia de la Lengua Española, famous purveyors of fine dictionaries (of which I own a copy).  But at this point, I couldn't care less about dictionaries.

On the dais in front of me is a 1605 version of the first part of the single most important piece of fiction ever written - a first edition Don Quijote.

I reach out my carefully washed and dried hands, under the watchful eye of the RAE director.  He explains that, under normal circumstances they wouldn't allow this.  The rest of the group had moved on, and I had stayed like a pilgrim in front of Cervante's masterpiece.  The director had approached me, and I explained my adoration of Quijote, and he told me to wash up and give it a touch.

This is like the fiction equivalent of the freakin' Gutenberg Bible, I think to myself as I lightly caress the cover with two fingers, feeling the light designs that dot the front.  I pull it open reverently, looking at the title page, and my breath is short.  I glance at the director, and his face is almost as expectant as mine.  I leaf through a bit, and find myself at the encounter with the barber and the helmet of Mambrino.  I read a few lines, the words leaping off the page as images of Quijote and Sancho fill my head and my heart once again.

It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The thank the director and he winks at me, saying, "Come here.  It's a first edition printing of the second part - 1615."

Make that twice-in-a-lifetime.


Comments
on Apr 22, 2008


I'd listen to the words he'd say
but in his voice I heard decay
the plastic face forced to portray
all the insides left cold and gray
there is a place that still remains
it eats the fear it eats the pain
the sweetest price he'll have to pay
the day the whole world went away


Nine Inch Nails, "The Day the Whole World Went Away"
on Apr 22, 2008
I stand in the inner sanctum of the Real Academia de la Lengua Española, famous purveyors of fine dictionaries (of which I own a copy). But at this point, I couldn't care less about dictionaries.
On the dais in front of me is a 1605 version of the first part of the single most important piece of fiction ever written - a first edition Don Quijote.
I reach out my carefully washed and dried hands, under the watchful eye of the RAE director. He explains that, under normal circumstances they wouldn't allow this. The rest of the group had moved on, and I had stayed like a pilgrim in front of Cervante's masterpiece. The director had approached me, and I explained my adoration of Quijote, and he told me to wash up and give it a touch.
This is like the fiction equivalent of the freakin' Gutenberg Bible, I think to myself as I lightly caress the cover with two fingers, feeling the light designs that dot the front. I pull it open reverently, looking at the title page, and my breath is short. I glance at the director, and his face is almost as expectant as mine. I leaf through a bit, and find myself at the encounter with the barber and the helmet of Mambrino. I read a few lines, the words leaping off the page as images of Quijote and Sancho fill my head and my heart once again.
It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The thank the director and he winks at me, saying, "Come here. It's a first edition printing of the second part - 1615."
Make that twice-in-a-lifetime.


He is sooo going to get fired if they find this.

Awesome story, man. I now want to go to Spain.

Why is it so important to you?
on Apr 22, 2008
Why is it so important to you?


I've never been quite so . . . changed . . . by a book that's not scripture.

It's the greatest piece of fiction ever produced, as far as I'm concerned.

And he's about to retire anyway, so I think he's okay.
on Apr 22, 2008
And he's about to retire anyway, so I think he's okay.


So that's what got you in.

"Shouldn't do this, but I'm retiring tomorrow... screw it!"
on Apr 22, 2008

 

I told old mission stories about dog bites and witnessing murders

I couldn't help but notice how casually you inserted this...am I going to be left wondering or would you like to offer a little backstory?

The director had approached me, and I explained my adoration of Quijote, and he told me to wash up and give it a touch.

That just kicks ass.  You got to lovingly caress history...twice!  So lucky.

~Zoo

on Apr 22, 2008
I couldn't help but notice how casually you inserted this...am I going to be left wondering or would you like to offer a little backstory?


Witnessing murders. That's when you kill the person you're witnessing to because they won't listen.
on Apr 22, 2008

The rest of the group had moved on, and I had stayed like a pilgrim in front of Cervante's masterpiece. The director had approached me, and I explained my adoration of Quijote, and he told me to wash up and give it a touch.

Wow, what a privilege, mate.  I bet there are very few who can say they have had this opportunity.  I also bet you're never going to wash your hands again.

on Apr 22, 2008
He will if he ever wants to touch Carolina with those hands.
on Apr 23, 2008
Witnessing murders. That's when you kill the person you're witnessing to because they won't listen.


Yikes! Mormons get serious. :/ Oh well, I'd better keep an open ear if I don't want to end up the same way.

~Zoo
on Apr 23, 2008

They're all surprised by how well I speak,

I explained my adoration of Quijote,

This is like the fiction equivalent of the freakin' Gutenberg Bible,

You must speak Spanish very good if you conveyed your love for the book so well he broke rules to let you examine it.

This time I'm not jealous one bit if anyone deserved that opportunity it's someone who has your adoration for that masterpiece.

 

on Apr 23, 2008
Witnessing murders. That's when you kill the person you're witnessing to because they won't listen.


Yikes! Mormons get serious. :/ Oh well, I'd better keep an open ear if I don't want to end up the same way.


It's a story for another day, Zoo. Maybe I'll write it and post it here, and maybe I'll just PM it to you - but you'll find it out some day.

Disclaimer: I was NOT the one who did the killing.

Thanks, all, for the read.
on Apr 23, 2008
First of all, the murder story has to be told. I may not be your most beloved JU, but if it's going out into the ether, it needs to be blogged or I better be PM'ed!

It's exciting that Carolina is in a heavy metal band. How serendipitous!

I am curious about eating out in Spain. When my brother and his wife were in Italy for a couple year (I know, different country, haha), the places didn't really have menus. You had to know what you wanted and order in the language.

What is it like eating out in Spain (I am a food person, can you tell?). What kinds of things do you eat? What did you order? What are the prices like? Any new crazy foods you've tried?

Amazing about the book. I have never read Don Quijote (although I have heard endless references to it), but it is still amazing to me to "touch" history. I actually have pics from a visit to Waco where I insisted we find the former Branch Dividian Compound.
on Apr 23, 2008
First of all, the murder story has to be told.


One of these days I will write it up and post it for all to see, then. Airing my dirty laundry, one might say.

It's exciting that Carolina is in a heavy metal band. How serendipitous!


She's pretty much an awesome chica.

As far as eating goes, some places have menus, but lots of places don't. Usually, rather than individual menus, they'll put a big placard out on the street with their basic menu listed, so you check it out and then go in and order what you want.

I eat a ton of fish (helps to have the sea five minutes away) and lots of sandwiches (called bocadillos). They're usually pretty basic, like a baguette brushed with tomato (yeah, brushed - you smoosh the tomato out onto the bread and rub it. It's actually a great way to get away from a dry sandwich without the calories of a mayo or butter) and some dried ham, sliced really thinly. Potatoes have become a staple food of Spain, too, so that's how you get most of your carbohydrates.

Price wise, it's a bit more expensive than the US. For example, you go to McDonald's here and your combo meal is going to set you back 6 Euros or so. Now, that doesn't seem too bad (and back when the exchange rate was more like 1:1 it wasn't) but the exchange rate is up to like 1 Euro = 1.70 dollars. So suddenly your 6 Euro combo meal is 10 American dollars. So I have to be kind of selective about buying stuff, because though the price seems great, when I think about it a bit it's not as nice.

And I love to 'touch' history, too. Wait until you see the pictures of me groping the statues!






PS That's not true. I don't grope statues. Pervy McPervington the roommate has, though.
on Apr 23, 2008
One of these days I will write it up and post it for all to see, then. Airing my dirty laundry, one might say.


Yeah, gonna need to read that one.

~Zoo
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