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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Brother, can you spare some long underwear?

Brother, can you spare some long underwear?
It’s not the cold; it’s the humidity.

Without meaning to offend the friends and family of anyone who may have actually frozen to death, I am going to describe the weather here as bitter cold. Now, if you look at the actual forecasts for Valencia you will see that it has been in the 60s almost every day, with the lows in the low 50s. That’s pretty warm, but that’s if where you live you have any sort of insulation in your home. The beautiful parquet floors, which are like a solid slab of marble and which keep these places cool during the hot summers, actually conduct the chill right up into your bones. It’s like the opposite of insulation, it’s like anti-insulation.

I have a theory—a theory I hope to never prove—that the floors are so cold in my apartment that my tongue would stick to them. I have a little electric space heater in the living room but that thing is about as effective at keeping me warm as someone trying to do the same with a cigarette lighter during a Mount Everest blizzard. Nanook of the North, Scott of the Antarctic, make room in the igloo for John of Valencia. God, an igloo sounds so warm and cozy right now with a nice whale blubber fire burning in the hearth, or whatever the hell igloos have instead of a hearth.

Instead of sissy shit like insulation and central heat, I have the Spanish equivalent: brandy. Some people here will get a little brandy in their morning coffee, called a café tocado, or “touched” coffee. If the temperature keeps falling I may start the day with a brandy “touched” with coffee. Without meaning to offend the friends and family of anyone crippled by alcoholism, I am going to make a coffee and brandy right now.

It is a little after five in the afternoon and although it is still light for another hour or so, the sun has cowardly set behind the buildings to the south of mine, like a geeky kid with glasses hiding from the neighborhood bully. Who would have thought that the powerful Spanish sun that attracts so many visitors to the beaches here in the summer would now quiver in its boots at the sight of a 98 pound weakling? It is so cold that I am calling the celestial body that makes possible all life on this planet, the sun, a pussy.

Either the sun needs to butch up a little bit or I have to, and that ain’t happening, not when it comes to being cold. I can take a lot of pain. Without meaning to offend anyone tortured at Abu Gharib, I just don’t see what’s so bad about water boarding. I love water, bring it on. Isn’t it a bit like bogey boarding? Being menaced by guard dogs? I love dogs. Just turn on the heat already, I’ll tell you anything you want to know.

Right now I am trying to conjure up the hottest day that I have ever experienced. I am doggedly attempting to recapture how uncomfortable I was on that day, sitting in the blistering sun. Perhaps it was in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, or in the Amazon basin. That memory is as fond to me now as a child’s first Christmas. I would take away the memory of the first Christmas of every kid on the planet if it would raise the temperature in my apartment ten degrees. Sorry kids, and I’ll take that blanket, too. For you it’s just a security thing, I’m freezing to death over here. Grow up already! While we’re at it I’ll also take those cute slippers that look like rabbits.

It is summer in Argentina right now. They speak Spanish there, right? Before I book this flight let me just check the weather forecast for the weekend. It is supposed to get up to 69 degrees on Sunday. I can’t freaking wait. I have been as cold as a stone for over a week. The only time I am warm is when I am in bed, in a hot shower, or at this kebab place around the corner where the ovens heat the place up nice and cozy. Beers are cheap there so it kind of works out on several levels.

Maybe they will let me shower over at the kebab joint, because although my shower is good and hot, once I turn off the water the real agony begins. I actually screamed it was so painful this morning. It’s not like I need to shower. It is so cold that my body doesn’t secrete anything. Nope, all my pores are slammed shut like the front door when a Jehovah’s Witness walks up to the house.

So if you come by my apartment and I’m not home, go over to the kebab place. I’ll be standing as close as I possibly can to the oven that roasts the meat, waiting for spring.

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