Moaning and Bitching

“You must be careful here,” the taxi driver warned us before he dropped us off on the Rambla. He looked over his shoulder and nodded to me. “There are many thieves.”

The broad avenue was lined with sidewalk restaurants and souvenir shops, with one lane of traffic in each direction separated by a wide pedestrian promenade. A man and woman were posed as human statues, their faces and clothing glazed bronze. An ambulance roared past, its wailing siren bending with the Doppler Effect.

“There’s the Platha,” I said, pointing.

“Platha,” Suzi said, giggling.


Before we could find the club, a young pretty woman with large plastic hoop earrings skipped into our path to intercept us. “Hello guys,” she said in practiced English. “Want to see a flamenco show?”

“That’s why we’re here,” I said.

Taranto’s was a small club with Flamenco on the first floor and Jazz in the basement. We found seats near the front, among other tourists, all of them negotiating the tiny tables with a point-and-shoot camera in one hand and a glass of sangria in the other.

“I need the 135,” I said to Suzi.

“It’s in your bag,” she said. “Which lens should I use?”

“The 50 or the 24. With the 24 you could get the whole stage.”

The band filed out and took their seats. There were four of them — flutist, guitarist, percussionist and singer. They began with a fluttering ascension of notes, then a tocking rhythm, then the singer asserted herself with dramatic wailing, pounding her chest, contorting her face and weeping out the lyrics to her love songs.

I nudged Suzi and showed her the back of my camera.

“Looks like she’s trying to poop,” Suzi said in my ear.

After the show, we wandered across the plaza to find something to eat. It was late, past eleven, and there were many open tables. A waiter gestured for us to seat ourselves, so we did.

“What do you want?” I asked Suzi.

“I’m not very hungry. I want some wine.”

“I’m not hungry, either,” I said. “Do you want to share one of these desserts with me?”

Suzi flipped through her menu. “Where’s dessert? I don’t see dessert.”

“It’s here — in Catalan and in Spanish. And in German. There’s no dessert menu in English.”

The waiter came to take our order.

“I want the Copacabana,” I said.

“To eat?” the waiter said.

“Yes, the Copacabana,” I said, “The dessert.”

“Food! What do you want to eat?” he demanded.

“Ya . . . ya—” I was flustered, and the Spanish words weren’t coming to me.

“No!” The waiter said. “This is a restaurant!”

“Okay,” I said to Suzi. “Let’s go.”

We stood up. “This is a restaurant,” the waiter repeated.

We started to walk away, but then I turned and confronted him. “Your sign says ‘cafeteria!'”

“This is a restaurant!” he said.

“Your sign says ‘cafeteria – cerveceria!'” I said.

We walked away quickly, through the throngs, our hands on our wallets and our cameras strapped securely to our backs.

“What a loser,” I said.

“Loother,” Suzi said.



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June 2010
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