You see? I´m already smiling a little. Don´t be scared. Deep down there I´m a very strong person. I got a strong mind. Not everyone can go through what I have gone through... When your five grade-school teachers spend twenty minutes a day staring at your mouth, you end up not caring about anything. The only thing that I´m sad about is belonging to this species... so silly, so incapable, so brutal. To know that they will never get anywhere, that they will never overcome their neurosis. They will never be able... No human, ever. How sad!
Because I have studied and I know what neurosis means. And cirrhosis as well. Don´t think that I drink every day of the year. When I go out I do drink a little, but just one cup of wine, like today. Well, where you say one you can say two, of course. But no more than that. Alberto can tell you. Alberto is the waiter. That amiable fellow at the end of the bar. I think he´s always been here, since the times of Kubala. I´ve never made a scene here. Well, here or anywhere else, you can ask him. I am a lady from head to toe. Because at my age one has already all the pieces in their place up there. All the brain parts, I mean. You know what they say about that. For my home, I wouldn´t mind being able to buy two or three new pieces of furniture, because... don´t think it´s easy, this twisted mouth thing is a pain even when trying to land a job. And also a woman doesn´t make the same money with one mouth as with another, the same as a fat woman doesn´t earn as much as a thin one. You can see that I am indeed a thin lady, but that was my father´s constitution, it´s not my merit, because I eat as much as I want of anything, and I don´t get fat. By the way, how strange to put together the words `father´ and `constitution´ in the same sentence, because my father wasn´t a constitutionalist, precisely... but I guess that´s the most common situation in Spain. We haven´t got many De Gaulle´s or FDR´s here. Although, if you pay attention, it happens in the best of families, and you can´t trust even the dumbest boy in town, because I am sure you know the stuff they just pulled out over there. I´m informed and there are things that are too much for me to swallow. Well, I wouldn´t swallow even the true and certified Host. I say it like that because with that smart face you got I am sure you are not the church-going type either, it´s not that I like to offend anyone, but it was decades ago that I stopped caring about priests and their stories. About that you shouldn´t worry: I´m a woman of the world.
But as I was saying, in the end, same in Spain as out of Spain, the human being is a specially stupid animal —as La Fontaine would have said, a twit, a mix of fox and pig. That´s why Truly Yours hasn´t been as happy as she could have. And it wouldn´t be that hard, I think, to put yourself in someone else´s place. We all could be happier. Well, we all could be happy, period, because we are only happy when they are asking about it for a poll.
Some days I start to think things around, and around, and around, and I can´t stop... That´s why, when you stopped me like that, by surprise, in the middle of the street, with your school folder and your smile, like that, so... young... Uf! My heart skipped a beat. That´s why I had to ask you to enter this bar for a while so that we can sit here calmly. Because love doesn´t knock on my door often, mind you. There was a time, which by the way was a hard time too, huh?, in which having a man in my bed wasn´t so difficult as now. I used to be money! But that´s one thing, an love is another. For love they ask you for the Holy Grail.
When I was working at the coffee-shop, the one that´s still open downtown, La ideal, the cook wanted me to think we had a future together, but that was a future that would last until dawn, not further. In the end he married the boss´s daughter. And not for the money, I don´t think he cared that much about money. I know it was because of her mouth, that little doll mouth Claudia always painted in lipstick, over and over... Claudia, with her little plum-colored mouth... But I don´t want you to think that I´m a bitter old woman, or that jealousy leads me astray. No. I am fully centered. I have my head on its place. You can be sure of that. It´s just that I remember what little Fascist element Claudia was, with her little brown bag in one side, setting her pace à la Greta Garbo, her mania of spending the whole day in church... How could a woman spend the whole day in church?
What I have seen!... If you just knew what I have seen... Even Mr. Cubelles once, because I confronted him for not having given us in time our extra Christmas pay, told me that I was always saying twisted things, and called me `Mari Trini´(1)... and my name is Faith, even though I don´t believe in anything. There hasn´t been any `María de la Trinidad´ with my last name. When I tell you that this species has no remedy...
Joaquín was his name, the cook´s, I mean, the one at La Ideal. What long fingers he got! I don´t mean physically. I wouldn´t care about that. I mean that he liked touching, and touching, and touching. And I´m not stupid. I find sex the most natural thing, but if a man touches, and touches, and touches a woman... well, that woman starts to have an intuition. And my intuition was indeed correct. Being already engaged to Claudia, one day he tried to touch me again from behind, like he used to do before, not caring if the kitchen help or the waiter would see him, even though back then people would pay attention to those things, huh?, they would pay good attention to it... Plus, Claudia was the boss´s daughter, damn it! That being so, Joaquín came form behind to grab my `croquette´. Because I know quite well how-to-read-and-write, mind you, and I say `croquette´. And I think I´m the only one in Spain that never says `cocrete´, like so many do. Because I drink up two Faulkner novels a week, even though I look like I haven´t killed a fly in my life. But like I was saying, when the guy came up to me from behind to grab my whole `croquette´ with his sticky hand, while I was doing the dishes at the coffee-shop and there wasn´t even a water heater there, may God damn Mr. Nicolás de Cubelles, that Fascist, that not even a water heater he´d pay for... but I get distracted again... well, Joaquín was coming to get my `croquette´ and I hit him in the very middle of the hand. But not like one who scares away the children who want to eat before lunch time. No, not so softly. I poked him with the big fork that I had in my hand, and I almost drew his blood out, hahaha. After the howling he went away running, and even Cubelles came to ask about it. Although, even after that, he let that clown daughter of him marry Mr. Long Fingers... You see the kind of stuff that happens in life.
And here I am, single and kicking, and she is probably there, in her chalet, with her cook. Even in that she was lucky: now I´m sure he shops for her and cooks her beefsteaks, and she is probably watching TV all day, right there on her sofa, because she is very prone to doing always the same thing. Most people are like that, because they got no imagination whatsoever.
But, well, thanks to that I´m still available and I can give you the five minutes you asked me for.
(1) Mari Trini was a popular Spanish singer (1947-2009), known both for her twisted mouth and her Feminist ideas.
Alejo López Bastida, Spain © 2014
Click here to see this story in Spanish
Translation by José Luis Martín © 2014
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