Thursday, July 23, 2009
a very european tale
The last handful of days have been fairly craptastic, so here's a reasonably amusing story from a few days back when things weren't quite so hairy.

(Well, they were a little hairy, I suppose. But literally. And in a gross way. You'll see.)

It's the story of when this picture was taken:
I suppose the picture by itself isn't all that terribly interesting. It's a weird sculpture-thing I happened by in Barcelona, about a hundred meters from the beach, but since Barcelona is FULL of weird sculpture-things, this one hardly stands out, nor is it artistically or otherwise interestingly shot. Like I said - it's not the picture that's interesting. It's what was going on behind my back whilst I was taking the picture that was interesting. And slightly hairy. And oh so very European.

But first, a slight digression. My traveling companions - although not exactly the people I would have hand-picked to spend almost two weeks bouncing around Southern Spain with - were all fairly pleasant. The kids were mostly agreeable, only a few of the adults were twitchy, and only once did a roaring game of Catch Phrase keep me from sleeping, and that's really the most a lady traveling with a teenage tour group can hope for. However, there comes a time when even the most harmless habits of the nicest people start to wear a bit thin, and that is exactly what happened around day three with someone I'm going to call "Catherine."

See, Catherine had this unfortunate habit of calling everything "European." While we were in Europe.

And while it's true that most of the things she deemed "very European" were, indeed, quite European - a view of the Mediterranean Sea, a nine hundred-year-old Mosque-turned Cathedral, a narrow, windy street in the middle of a ancient city IN EUROPE - it just seemed a bit...I don't know....REDUNDANT to call those things European. But enough of Catherine. Back to my story.

Having been to a European beach before, it came as no surprise to me that European women enjoy sunbathing topless. It's very, you know, European to do so. However, my students were wholly unprepared for this fact, so before we were set loose to explore Barcelona, our tour guide explained to the kids that there were three beaches in the city: one where ladies can bear their top-most naughty bits, one where everyone can bear ALL of their naughty bits, and one where homosexuals can bear all their naughty bits. And armed with this knowledge, my students opted to stay far away from the beach entirely. Not so "European," these kids.

BUT, since our group dinner was to be held at a beach-side restaurant, we were forced to the beach all the same. So, we hopped the Metro, rode few stops, hopped off the Metro, and walked above ground for a bit until we happened upon this:

The thing I started telling you about ages and ages ago. But bear in mind that we were NOT YET AT THE BEACH. In fact, we were still a good ten minute walk from ANY beach, even the "ladies can only show their naughty lady top parts" beach, which was the closest of the three. So, I was snapping this picture of that weird, but not uncommonly weird sculpture-thing in Barcelona when, from behind my back, rose a chorus of gasps and shrieks and uproarious laughter from the members of my touring group. Spinning around, I saw a man (a very EUROPEAN man) who had just come from the beach (a very EUROPEAN beach), and was now standing directly in our path, leaning on a park bench wearing nothing but a man purse (a "murse" if you will), a pair of glasses, some sandals, and a look of total indifference. He was paunchy, middle aged, and completely devoid of any tan lines. And let's not forget, quite stunningly nude.

"Look at the cool sculpture-thing, kids!" our tour guide shouted, but it was to no avail. A stark-naked man standing in the middle of the street looking hopelessly bored was WAY more interesting than some stupid weird sculpture. Shouts were shouted, pictures were snapped, videos were taken, and the naked man pretended not to notice. As if it happens to him EVERY DAY. I imagine that in the States he would have been in the clink fairly quickly, but we weren't in the States. We were in Europe. So instead of being arrested, he sauntered down the street, quite devil-may-care about the small riot he had started amongst the American tourists.

I wasn't by Catherine when all this was going down, but I like to imagine that she would have smiled and deemed it all quite European. And yes. Indeed it was.

(And if you're inclined to worry about the extend to which naked man may have wounded my sweet little students, don't. I later asked them to share their favorite moments from the trip, and, inevitably, one of them smiled and said "the beach." I didn't ask her for further elaboration.)


Post a Comment

<< Home