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Friday, August 17, 2007

Holgazanear (intransitive verb) to idle, to laze about/around, to loaf

I recently learned that you can use an infinitive in Spanish to answer a question. So if someone were to ask me what I’ve been doing this month of August I could reply with:

What the hell else am I supposed to do? It’s August in Spain and not just Spain but the endless beaches part of Spain, the part of Spain where other people in Spain go to goof off. Along this entire coast you can’t spit without hitting a topless beauty or a fat, naked, 60 year old German tourist. Of course I’m screwing off, there is nothing else to do. I’m no history expert but I’ll bet every battle the Spanish have ever lost took place in August when at least half of their army was taking a trip to the beach with their families and the other half was working in the family café trying to keep enough beer cold and sardines on the grill to serve the summer hordes.

One more thing that I really love about Valencia is that you can take the subway to the beautiful city beach. There aren't many cities in the world that you can say that about. I live on the line that serves the beach so I see a lot of people either going or coming. My favorite sight is the stuff that parents pack to entertain their little kids when they spend the day on the water. Pails, shovels, watering cans, sailboats, and, of course, balls are part of what the beach caravans have in tow on the Valencia metro. This is one aspect of Spanish life that is exactly the same as it is in America: kids all use the same paraphernalia when they go to the beach.

Valencianos mostly drive to the beaches south of town and for this ten minute expedition families bring more crap than a Spice Route camel caravan. Chairs, tables, umbrellas, blankets, volleyball nets, rackets, and all of the kid junk listed earlier. It’s hard to imagine all of this stuff fits into the little cars people drive—maybe they make two or three trips. Goofing off requires a lot of equipment if you are doing it right.

If you can find a restaurant that is actually open in August it will be filled to capacity, at least during the hours when Spanish people eat, which seem to get later and later as the summer moves along its trajectory. Lunch is still going strong at an hour when many American early bird specialists are already packing up their leftovers in doggie bags and heading home to bed. The crowds wash in and out of the beach cafes like the tides. If you were to take a water sample of those tides, the results would come back as coffee, Coca Cola, red wine, and beer. It probably takes at least one nuclear reactor just to power all of the espresso machines working furiously along the coast. I would rather suffer the consequences of a dozen reactor core meltdowns than risk having a few million Spanish people go without coffee for a single afternoon.

I’m pretty sure that they still print newspapers in August, and there is probably news on television, but maybe if we just ignore it the news will go away—it can at least wait until September. I’m too caught up in the trashy Spanish novel I’m reading to bother with the newspapers, except to read the Calvin and Hobbes comic in the local paper, Levante. Even soccer takes a break in August so there’s no reason to read the sports.

Thank God that in the middle of all of this hustle and bustle I have time to take a nap. These aren’t my usual little power naps of ten to fifteen minutes, these are howling one hour affairs so intense that I don’t know what day it is when I wake up (not that I really knew what day it was when I first laid down, but still). I wake up semi-paralyzed and semi-conscious and I check to make sure I didn’t lose anything to some international group of organ thieves—not that anyone who knew any better would want anything coming out of this burnt-out old carcass. I use the slobber on my chin to fix my bed-head hair and then head down to the café for a coffee.

The café is full again and I am beginning to wonder if all of these customers have been evicted. It's hard to imagine they have homes when they spend 10 hours a day at this joint. I’m sure they think the same about me and I don’t even bother changing clothes from day to day. I stick with flip-flops, surf trunks, and the soccer jersey du jour (today it’s the Portugal national team jersey). I speak Spanish like Tarzan so I may as well look the part. I haven't worn shoes in months and can you explain to me again the purpose of socks? I don’t know how much longer I can keep going at this frantic pace. Something has got to give and I hope it isn’t the seam in the ass of my surf trunks from all of the fried squid I’ve been putting away.

I have to be honest; I’m exhausted. It’s 8:30 a.m. and I’m ready to go back to bed for an hour, maybe two, three at the very most. I don’t know if I should be worried but my blood pressure is so low that the readings begin with decimal points. I’d call a doctor but they are all out of the office in August. For medical emergencies you are supposed to rent one of those sound trucks and try and page a doctor at the beach. I tried that but all the little kids mobbed me because they thought I was the ice cream man. It was pretty funny but things got ugly once the little bastards found out I didn't have any ice cream. I was able to take out a few of them but in the end I got stomped something fierce. Ice cream sounds good right now, even if it is 8:31 a.m. In August, 8:31 a.m. is like four in the afternoon.

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