He had a wet voice and, when I shook his hand later, a handshake like seaweed. But the handshake came after the sale and at that point it didn’t matter. What mattered was his weakness, his white flag. It came from the hesitancy in his voice and his shapelessness. You stood there talking to him, and a feeling of pity made itself felt like two hands weakly clutching your Achilles from behind. You had to stop charging on, and turn around to disengage them. And then – blammo – you were engaged, caught in the pity trap.
Eat a banana
Talk to a cat
Talk to myself
Get into bed
(not necessarily in that order)
(it’s OK to eat a banana in bed)
In the airport lounge
losers fondle phones or gab
shovel petits-fours in gobs;
Most are merely dull,
but some exhibit horrid
being “thrilled” on business calls;
loudly Englishing the maids.
I walked to the mall and bought a bottle of wine, nail clippers, and Asterix the Gaul in Portuguese. Now, at sunset, I’m reading the Asterix with delightful clipped nails, and drinking the wine with delightful peanuts. Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem emanates from my laptop and merges with the noise of the highway, spooling unevenly up into the hills around the city.
I woke up just before three a.m., because I had had a cointreau and (because that was the last of the cointreau) a grand marnier after dinner. I tried to sleep, micturated meagerly and tried to sleep again, dreaming of plausible absurdities until my alarm, or alarmo as it’s known on my phone due to a lazy thumb, played its spooky music an hour later.
I pissed again, showered, and left the door to my hotel room open so as not to wake sleepers by the closing of the latch. For the same reason I crept carrying my suitcase through the winding corridor floored with tiles and down the stairs to reception rather than shepherding it on its highly-compliant wheels. It is quite an amazing suitcase. Carry-on legal but bigger inside than out. Heavy-duty, light to lift. I’ve taken many more flights than it has but I sense that it nods and winks, so to speak, at my navigations. I think it could probably find its way without me.
At the bottom of the stairs Noddy waited for me. I call him that because he never sleeps but perpetually looks as though he must sleep or expire. The previous evening, at about 10:15, as I had ordered the cointreau and he had apologetically poured what was left of the bottle into the glass, I had said to him – I will just leave tomorrow morning, there’s no need for any formalities – but Noddy had looked at me sleepily and said that he would be there to see me off, formalities or no formalities. And so (at four a.m.) I handed him my key, encumbered by a humongous rustical fob, said – ’til next time -, and walked out (hefting my small but dense with filthy clothes and books suitcase) to the taxi.
I’m not really much of a taxi conversationalist – only on very special occasions – so I passed the 3.5 hour nonstop run through dark and dawn and rain and nothing reading a long and rather disappointing novel about metempsychosis, “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell. We slowed to safely pass trucks, buses and beautiful, idiotic guanacos, ambling the way tourists do. I find it impossible to care about characters who have been born again and again, and more importantly, they are not all that interesting. They have a lot of wisdom, which makes you less interesting. They are awful history bores. They lack urgency. Immortal, or even very long-lived, characters don’t do it for me. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that immortality really buggers fiction. Unless you were born that way, i.e. a god. Even then – not too many gods in modern fiction.
I pissed again and sat for a while having ham and cheese toasties and espressos at the airport. One more slash and it was boarding time. This boarding was not competitive at all. Without even exerting myself I boarded third or fourth.
In Buenos Aires I ate a little pizza with genuine slices of tomato on top and drank three minibottles, i.e. glasses, of wine. In between I went for a walk around the miniscule terminal area, eyes glazed over, hair thrust up into a breaker at the front from the blindfold used on the first flight. I thought about writing this blog entry, but decided it would be a waste of time that I could better spend pissing and reading the novel by David Mitchell. I was very impressed by the lack of annoying twats in the place – no one was using a screen loudly.
The next flight was GOL (caps?), which is very much slumming it compared to Aerolineas, and I was in the thick of the plebs, who were almost all speaking barbaric Brazilian Portuguese. The air was thick with uzh and vzh and dzisch sounds, like a Politburo meeting with enforced borscht. I dropped off for a while and had a nice dream about my wife. Not sexy, but still quite satisfying. The dream, not my wife, who is of course both. I awoke just in time to frown at everyone for not returning their seats to the upright position quickly enough.
Immigration was a piece of piss – it’s always easier to enter a country you don’t live in, in my experience – and I reached up to my left ear to pull the lever that changes my language from Spanish to Portuguese. Sometimes I forget to engage the clutch and the lever gets stuck halfway and this accounts for the so-called creole Portuñol. But this time the clutch engaged well. So I did a fistpump for everyone to see.
After a certain amount of farting around, another flight. Awful, a little person in seat A of row next to me (seat D) with a very loud voice talking to the fellow in C over the poor woman in B. That whiny strain of Portuguese that always agitates me. But very short (flight I mean) and then a flawless piss, bag-retrieval, and taxi ride with wheel change (can I help? no, quicker if you stay there) and here we are. So there you go. Tomorrow I buy nail clippers, to clip my nails with, because my nails are growing inexorably. I may also jog along to Pampulha Lake and have a look for these alligators that people have been telling me about. Apparently there is a substantial alligator tribe in Pampulha but they do not attack humans. I am a human, so I will be OK – no reason why I shouldn’t be their best pal.
The Dalai Lama
wouldn’t harm a
fly. That’s his religion.
He probably wouldn’t even euthanize a pigeon.
Just did the bathrobe ice-bucket walk in a new and trendy South American hotel. There were no witnesses. I had to light my way with my phone, such was the gloom. It must be a trend to have gloomy hallways in hotels. There used to be an excellent blog by a commercial American, called “Hotel Hallways”, which was all about hotel hallways (carpets, lighting &c) the length and breadth of America, but it expired about five years ago. I don’t think he ever did the bathrobe ice-bucket walk, though.
There is a furtiveness about the walk. Not in doing it – doing it is the opposite of furtive – but in talking about it. There aren’t really polite words… it sounds vaguely obscene however you approach it. The disrobing, the suiting up in the hotel bathrobe. You’re donning a cultish vestment, giving up your identity to the hotel. You’re about to parade yourself naked but for the inmate’s garb. Also there’s something about bathrobes in general which evokes inbetweenness. You’re not supposed to wear them to do errands (like fetching ice). Their social purpose is to show that you’re indifferent to the social setting. So you feel rather like a nudist.
Then there’s the exploratory aspect. In a hotel, your room is your world, and you’re surrounded by other worlds in painful proximity. To walk the walk is to violate this order, to willfully voyage between the worlds, sure of your purpose though unsure of your destination (for the ice machine is never where it ought to be). You are an explorer. Not so many years ago you might encounter another on the same quest and exchange a circumspect nod, but that is rarer and rarer; the practice is falling into desuetude. But there remains the proximal thrill of passing all the doors, of violating, briefly and proudly, so many thresholds. In fact this pleasure only increases as hotels become increasingly private spaces, the guests pressed up against their screens with their backs to their doors, knowing nothing of the fellow in the bathrobe with the bucket pacing the corridor, or the superiority of iced drinks.
The proper stance is to hold the bucket in the crook of the arm and to walk with the hips broad, the knees slightly bandy, in the manner of a sailor cock-a-hoop with his little cask of rum. This gives you the necessary confidence and presents a friendly disposition to anyone who might see you. In the event of passing someone (which as I said, is an increasingly infrequent occurrence in this introverted age) you say “good evening”, nod, smiling, winking if you have the facility, and “just looking for some ice” or something very similar. If by some syzygy both of you are on the same quest, a mere nod will suffice to establish your eternal kinship.
Remember, when you locate the ice machine, not to overload your bucket. You want to be able to hold it suitably on the way back, and besides, the chunks will be small, and it won’t last very long in your overheated room, and your supply of booze, unlike the ice from the great glowing, humming machine, will soon run out.
It’s crowded and gay down there, with a masturbating jazzband.
– Nabokov, Ada, or Ardor
The cicadas have an urgent descending thrum to them, di-urp di-urp di-urp. Backing them is the ticker-ticker of the sprinklers, the frantic cymbal-brush of summer here, heard too infrequently in rainy 2014. Some large insect is beating its wings, or thrashing its carapace against the walls or the blinds, and now and then a helicopter flutters by with a mucky thrub, thrubba thrub thrubba.
I awoke from dreams of frustrated congress to the usual cat-riot and stinging headache. I’m still not used to the emptiness of the house. Theoretically I can occupy myself for a whole day, but there is a sure cost to my sanity. I opened the shutters, fed the cats, shat, did dishes, and chose a novel to read. It was “The Sandman” by Miles Gibson (1984), a funny and erotic wander through the career of a commonplace London serial killer. I liked it so much I’ve just bought his other six or seven novels second hand.
I ate leftovers. Now I must hide the alcohol and hoover because tomorrow I turn over the fort to our fortsitter, sexagenarian Kim. She hid the alcohol herself last time and apologised for it, so I figure I should do her this favour. Excuse me while I put away this double vodka. Note, there should be a comma after the first alcohol. I don’t need to hide the hoover, and it’s lucky I don’t as it’s a pretty conspicuous item of household electronics. Ah, do nothing day. If I lived alone I’d be well-read, but a roaring drunk.