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Excuse me Sir, is your name Rolf?

I just spent 90 minutes on a massage assault therapist’s table. My friend told me he went deep. Here I was thinking we’d discuss philosophy. He asked what kind of pressure I liked and I replied medium-hard, which he mistook as aggressively sadistic.

You know how some masseurs can make your body sing? My new friend Jon made mine scream in some heretofore unknown Bantu dialect of clicks, pops, and cracks.

I don’t know if he was using his fingers, fist, elbows, or a tire iron, but I’m quite sure he took my quads off my femur, wrung them out, and then somehow pushed them back into the place he thought they should go.

He found trigger points in my hamstrings that I did not know existed. He had me on my stomach, knee bent so that my foot was in the air, and somehoew dug in which caused my leg to reflexively straighten in an upside-down knee-jerk reaction I didn’t know what possible. “I guess I need to get back on the foam roller,” I squeaked.

“Yeah, they’re so tight. What did you do, take a year or so off?”

He put me on my back and turned Thai massage techniques into making me a spread eagle circus porn act. In certain cultures, I believe we are married now.

I’m seeing him again in a few weeks.

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No, he didn’t

I didn’t say “rabbit, rabbit” first thing today. I thought about it on my second morning (the first one was at 4:30 am class on auto-pilot) and almost texted it to my partner, two cute bunny emojis, but didn’t do that either. Later on,  when I shared my no-double-bunny-shame, he told me it would be brought up at “rabbit rabbit tribunal” but my case did not look promising. Apparently things are really hopping there, what with Easter coming up and all.

I didn’t start a new fitness routine today. I had a Peloton March Maggic 20-minute strength thing on the books, but naps (aka much needed sleep; see 430 am class) took the reins. Maybe I have no discipline. Maybe I have no motivation. Maybe I was tired and needed to practice self care. Or maybe the coffee wore off.

I didn’t feel bad about it. And part of me thinks I should feel bad about it, but part of me says “Welcome to Self Care.” The part that says “you’re lazy” is still on the bus, but has agreed to sit quietly in the back as long as I acknowledge him every once in a while.

Yo.  I didn’t not acknowledge you.

I didn’t plan my week this week. And I’m okay with that. I know what I need to get done and it’s all happening without a Bullet Journal or a Panda Planner or Post-Its on the mirror. I was sorted for tomorrow before I took my second nap and I am truly just enjoying the quiet condo, despite the wind thundering like a jet engine outside, the aftertaste of burnt microwave popcorn (tbf, the package did say 3 minutes), and the clickety clack of my fingers on the keyboard.

I didn’t read the popcorn instructions properly. I think it might have said “up to 3 minutes”. And it was a smallish bag — but what are these “single sized portions” of nukable palomitos? No matter where I eat in this town the portions are huge even if you’re splitting a meal (no, we’re not those people yet, but I see how normal restaurant patrons  can morph … age? … into them), but some MBA at Orville Redenbacher is now doling out fun-sized bags of late-night salty snacks?

I didn’t buy them and I guess I shouldn’t complain.  I hope I remember to buy normal sized bags next time I’m at the supermarket.

You wouldn’t have to hope to remember if you put a list into a Bullet Journal or Panda Planner.

I didn’t hear that voice at the back of the bus. Did you?

I didn’t sit down to re-start a quote-unquote-formal writing process today.

And yet …

I didn’t just (in my mind) stick my fingers in my ear and sing “la la la”.

I didn’t write in my journal by hand, I just sat down and typed for 20 or 30 minutes. So I really didn’t start Writing.

I didn’t not press publish.

It’s a start. 

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Step Right Up

“I’m going to climb all the steps in my building at LEAST once a day.”

Ah, the optimistic promises of those facing lockdown.  Just because I can’t go out for a run didn’t mean I had to lose the running mojo I’d been slowly re-developing over the previous couple months.  Ah, 2020 … you teased us with such promise.

The stairwell happened exactly once, early on. I was winded an inordinately short amount of time, and it only took a few minutes to go from the ground level to my 5th-floor flat (top floor, but hardly a penthouse).

This morning, in an effort to limit my lockdown laziness, I took the recycling out (first breaths of on-the-street fresh air in four days. I took the elevator (because it’s new and shiny) down, and noticed how clean the new floor was. That’s not gonna last.

On the way up I set two timers. 20 minutes on my watch and 30/30 intervals on my GymBoss app. I climbed for 30 seconds up, then took 30 seconds to look out the landing window. I never rested on floors with doors just the landings between them. #goodcitizen

Lather rinse repeat till the top. Then walked all the way down ignoring interval timers. I didn’t check my watch until I thought I was almost done, at which point I realized that 6 minutes of walking up and down stairs seems like AT LEAST  half an hour.

A big shout out to the people who live in walkups (carrying groceries!) and their asses that I could bounce quarters off of.

On one of my trips to the lobby, one of the neighbors came in the front door — an older guy (probably my age, lol). He’d just come from the (overpriced) 24-hour super next door was holding two packets of cookies. Breakfast of champions. We was wearing slippers, PJ bottoms, a janky t-shirt an a bathrobe. To go to the market!

I’d say he’s winning the lockdown, but I saw him come in one morning just after we’d moved in, dressed pretty much the same. I have since added “achieve robe-guy’s level of no fucks given” to the someday/maybe list in my planner.

I carried on for the remaining 14 minutes and thought that tomorrow (or the next day time, routines schmoutines) I might even go 35/25 intervals. I also learned that, like in running when the first mile lies, the first few flights are deceptively taxing.  “Maybe I’ll even bump up my minutes as well, “I thought.

And we laughed and laughed.

Baby steps. Literally.

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If Morning Ever Comes

You wake up and you think, lord t’underin’ jeebus, how will I ever get through this day? At least Phil Connors got to get out of the house. But in this movie, there are consequences. So inside you stay.

You make your way through the day’s tasks. You either watch the news or you don’t. You watch a little more of Alexis’ character arc and wonder if you could find a university to pay you to do a PhD on her. Boop.

You decide to limit the time you check the worldometers site that’s been bookmarked on your phone and laptop for weeks now, before you ever imagined it would be spitting out the number it is.

You check it anyway. You wait for the peak.

You see the trends and you don’t understand why people are still partying on beaches for Spring Break.

You think they’re idiots, but you think you were 20 once too, and you wonder what you would have done. Would you still have gone to that bathhouse 35 years ago?

You realize it’s not really your problem and you worry for their parents. All those years of saying “make good choices.”

You worry about your own parents and you know one side is fine and the other, well notsumuch. You rationalize, for the umpteenth occasion, that the move to the nursing home was the best choice at the time and probably still is.

You see a mother walking down the street wearing a mask. Her barefaced kid’s alongside her, pushing himself on a scooter. You wonder which essential service they’re going to, and think maybe the government should allow parents to walk their children, the same way they allow you to walk your dog.

You hear an ambulance in the distance, wailing above the dopplering of diminished traffic on the street below your window.

You think about a daughter standing outside the window of her mother’s nursing home, in the cold, tapping on the glass to get her attention; making sure her mom knows she’s still around even though she can’t come in. Doing all that despite the fact that she might not be completely recognized. She wonders who her mom will see through her pane: her daughter? her long-gone younger sister? a healthcare worker who found herself outdoors? a stranger?

You think about the aunts and uncles who you never got to say goodbye to.

You try not to think about yesterday’s 4:30 am anxiety attack, when you worst-case-scenarioed yourself into envisioning which of the two of you would go first to the hospital, and, if that happened, would it be the last time you saw each other?

You try VERY FUCKING HARD not to think of the “lucid, drowning deaths” an Italian doctor wrote about —fully aware that you’d be drowning in your own body fluids, in isolation.

You promise yourself not to think about all the doctors who, having been forced to change their names to Sophie, are making unthinkable decisions.

You wish there was a password-protected block that someone could put on this channel of your mind’s cable subscription.

You look out the window and see an older woman carrying a seemingly empty re-usable grocery store bag. It looks like Sainsbury’s but that would be very long walk indeed. You wonder if she’s actually shopping, or if’s it’s just a prop so she can tell the police she’s on her way to market. You see scores of pigeons following her, and you wonder what the collective noun for pigeons is. You find yourself disappointed that there isn’t just one term, and while “dropping” and “kit” could be the best of them, they still leave you unfulfilled.

They keep after her, some scurrying on their filthy little feet, others flapping around in half flight. She shoos them away, but they are undaunted (some of them chasing the breadcrumbs they think she’s tossed — like a dog who falls for the invisible ball trick). They are relentless. Like paparazzi.

The pigeonazzi.

You scan the rooftops for people lucky enough to have access and bold enough to break the rules. They perch on the edges of their buildings like sentinels. Perhaps there is an underground Catalan Whatsapp group that you don’t know about, one where we are directed to recreate Antony Gormley’s “Event Horizon”.

You remember rambling the streets of London in 2007, searching for their silhouettes.

You see a cat bouncing around a terrace across the way, looking at all the birds and bugs it could hunt if it were free. Alert. Aware. Agile.

You look at your own cat on the sofa beside you, working on his own installation: “50 Shades of Catnaps”, or “I don’t know why you humans give so many fucks. Don’t you have food? Don’t you have places to rest all around this flat? Can’t you find a square of sunshine? Don’t you have shadows to chase?”

You hear the apartment door open and your partner has come home from the not-Sainsbury’s, a granny trolley full of fresh fruit and veg, snacks, ingredients for new recipes he’s found on the internets, and a chicken so you can make (yet) another batch of soup.

He takes off the plastic gloves they gifted him on entry (before the mandatory store-supplied sanitizer) and says there was a queue to get in, but it seemed longer than it was because everyone was keeping a meter of space between them. They aisles were not especially full, and the shelves better stocked than the last visit. People kept their distance and everything was done with a measured, controlled, efficiency.

You tell them that sounds very civilized and he says it was more about being surreal and scary.

You think that you never teach sibilance in your ESL classes.

You realize you have an unending list of things to be grateful for, not the least of which is someone who puts up with your neuroses and a vegetarian who picks up poultry for you.

You decide to get on with your day, which is already almost half over. Like so many other days in this social experiment you’ve been dropped into, no matter how insurmountable the day seems at first glance, before you know it, you’re wondering “where did all those hours go?”

You hope it will continue to be one of the better days, maybe even as good as a couple days ago. You hope it won’t be anything like 4:30 am yesterday.

You look at the bulletin board next to your desk, and see a quote from Anne Tyler …

“I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place.”

You know that after you start that pot of soup in a few minutes, you’ll find yourself in Sandhill, North Carolina, walking alongside Ben Joe Hawkes and and watching him figure out his own unexpected world; maybe even reading something upside down.




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Taking Stock

And in today’s episode of “How’s that Mindfulness Thing Working Out for You?” …

I’d just finished the David Sedaris Masterclass that my sister generously gifted me for Christmas. I kept putting off watching the end of it because: A) I didn’t want it to end, B) there was always something else I needed to watch on TV and C) I don’t really like watching things on my computer (or mobile).

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ok, boomer.

David told me I should be writing. He wants “to hear the things in your life that have gone wrong.” He also told me I should be reading Ann Patchett’s “The Getaway Car”, so I found that online (in a collection of non-fiction that I’d always thought was a novel) and painlessly put in on my Kindle (the joys of Amazon).

And then I took a nap (the joys of “Alexa, set timer for 20 minutes”).

I was going to have her set another 20 minutes (the joys of repetition) and thought, “no, you have a dinner tonight and if you nap the rest of the afternoon you won’t get anything accomplished and David says I need to be disciplined.

So I went to the bathroom and wiped down the counter.

Then I went to my desk and opened up my Moleskine (which is oddly not filling itself up, despite my “fill one each quarter” new year’s not-a-resolution-more-like-a-target) to write for a bit.

My brain was still a little fuzzy from the nap, or from just being my brain, so I decided I needed a cup of something … coffee or tea to sit down at my desk with.

Right next to the kettle is my Insta Pot, with a 4:18 on the LED.

Oh, that’s right, I was making vegetable stock before I headed out to lunch.

“Sorry I’m late,” I’d told my lunch companion. She’s the wife of one of my best friends from college, and until yesterday we’d never met despite him having been to Europe a few times in the past decade. Until now, we’ve just kept up with each other on, of course, the Book of Face. “I was making vegetable stock and had a little Insta Pot crisis.”

“You make your own vegetable stock?” she asked.

“Well, you know … easier than throwing all the scraps away,” I lied. Because nothing is really easier than throwing scraps away … I mean the garbage bin is right there. And there’s a garbage chute for the bags literally next to my apartment door. “I just keep a bag full of scraps in the freezer and take whatever is on its last legs from the fridge, toss it in the Insta Pot with some water and seasoning and … boom, stock.”

These are the conversations you have with new BFFs, no?

Until recently, I’d been buying stock in 1-litre cartons and instead of saving it for recipes, I’ve been pouring it into a mug and microwaving it up. I’m a whore with store-bought caldo … chicken, veggie, meat …  you name it (well, not fish), I’ll give it the old nuke-and-sip.  Me, my cat, a cup of steaming broth and a Netflix series. I moved to Barcelona and became an abuela.

It’s very satisfying, the stock. Like soup but less filling. So, of course, I have more. And then, the other day, I read the label. One serving has 33% of the recommended daily sodium intake. My cardiologist (the joys of being in your 50s) wants me to lower salt consumption as part of her so-called “Keep Bob alive” plan, which involves lowering my blood pressure. I don’t cook with salt. I rarely salt my food. But apparently, I’m now like a deer — slowly lapping away at various flavored saltlicks.

So, yes, I’ve begun to make my own stock. Without salt.

Oh, that’s right, I was making vegetable stock before I headed out to lunch.

 Well if it’s been on warm for more than 4 hours after 30 minutes of pressure cooking, it must be ready. I got out a colander and a mesh strainer, because I thought this batch could use a double strain, and all those solids were never going to fit into the strainer without spilling over.

Releasing the lid, the kitchen filled with smells of a day’s simmer … carrots, onions, garlic, celery, a hint of dill. Much better than anything store-bought.

I slowly poured the contents into the strainers, the steam rising up and misting my glasses.

Glug, glug, glug … right into the sink.

Not much use double-straining a fresh batch of broth if you don’t put a container under the bottom one.

I caught myself before I emptied out the whole pot … maybe only a quarter went down the drain. I took out a large plastic bowl (which ironically had been holding the colander and strainer while they were in the cupboard) and finished siphoning off the soup.

Which, as it turns out, tastes delicious (even salt free!) and I just might go back to the kitchen for a third cup when I finish this sentence.

Then maybe I’ll do a mindfulness meditation. Because they really seem to be having a positive effect.

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Falling (Day 4)

And we gently exhale out of Urdhva Hastasana into Uttanasana.

Doesn’t that sound nice? Peaceful and soothing, no?

Ugh. It’s not.

For those who were with us yesterday, Urdhva Hastasana is the Standing Salute. We inhale up into that pose, then we exhale down into a Standing Forward Fold.

As your gym teacher used to say, “touch your toes.”

Or, in my case these days, especially on the first try, touch your shins. And that is truly frustrating, because a few months ago, when I was in a regular practice, I could get down to my toes relatively easily.  With my legs straight! (or at least they felt straight to me). By the end of the warm up (5 cycles of Sun Salutations A and 3 Sun Salutations B), I could hang there with my knuckles pushing into the floor.

I have lost so much flexibility. So much that I wonder if it’s worth starting back again.


Continue reading

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In this house (Day 3)

The task for this piece was to incorporate a sign into it.

I was scribbling this out in a café at lunchtime, thinking about all the signs (mostly in Catalan) I saw while walking there from home. Which one to choose? When the waiter brought my meal, I looked up and saw this:

In this house

  • We do real
  • We do mistakes
  • We do I’m sorry
  • We do fun
  • We do hugs
  • We do second chances
  • We do happy
  • We do forgiveness
  • We do really loud

After I left, I realized I forgot that I meant to take a photo of it. Oh well.


You’re back on the mat, centered and ready to begin. Feet firmly planted, the outsides parallel and calloused big toes touching.

Looking down to double check, you resist the urge to pack it all in and head straight for a pedicure.

You bring your hands to prayer position in front of your chest. You breathe in and raise your arms above your head. Not just raise. Reach. Upward Salute. Urdhva Hastasana.

The first real movement of Sun Salute A.

You create a gentle tension in your body. Feet still pushing him to the floor, grounding yourself. Your hands are together above your head, reaching towards the ceiling, towards the sun.

It’s a formalized version of one of the most basic stretches you do almost every day if not every hour. Grabbing something off the top shelf. Having a big, indulgent yawn. Holding an overhead rail on a jostling bus or subway train. Helping someone shove that just too big to fit on into the overhead (why do people lose any sense of spatial awareness when flying?). Hailing a taxicab. Swatting at that itsy bitsy spider at the top of the wall who isn’t doing any harm to anyone, but needs to go nonetheless. Getting rid of that cobweb in the corner (not right now but definitely before company comes). Writing slang they don’t teach in textbooks at the top of the blackboard.

In the here and now, it’s a controlled, precise movement. You look up and back towards your hands, palms pressed together. You feel your breath sink down deep past your diaphragm. Your core is taut. You feel a stretch in your chest and your heart opens just a little bit more. Your shoulders sink down and back. Your legs are solid, supporting the pose.

In the Ashtanga studio, the shala, you would be like this for only one inhalation. But you’re at home and, as they say all too often here, no hay prisa, tranquilo.

So you take the time to breathe into the pose. You feel a little tight in your right shoulder, so you lean into that and stretch a little from side to side.  In this house we do real.

You close your eyes and lean a little bit further back, wondering what it will be like to return to back bends. You lose your balance a little but quickly recover. In this house we do mistakes.

You move your hips around a little in a circular movement. It’s not part of the practice, but you’ve been doing this a lot before and after runs, and it feels quite nice. In this house we do fun.

You think about how many times you’ve rushed through this in the past, and how much you’re enjoying getting back into it as slowly as is necessary. You feel that you’re growing taller with every breath. In this house we do second chances.

You feel like you’re starting to wake up, and smile at the thought of returning to your practice. In this house we do happy.

You think about how long you’ve been out of commission. Of the many reasons that might have caused that, and truly don’t really matter anymore. Of all the projects started, of all the races not run, of all the round-tuits you never got. You tell yourself it’s all okay. In this house we do forgiveness.

You take one more deep breath, reach a little higher, and let out that breath with the loudest “ahhhhh” that you can manage. One of the cats jumps off the window sill where she’d been sleeping. In this house we do really loud.

You know you’re ready to dive into the next movement, but for now we focus on this. And you know, that in the entire practice, you will have plenty of time to wrap yourself around yourself. In this house we do hugs.

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Friday Night Writes

Ten things I did/learned this week …

  1. Finished teaching for the summer. Another great group of kids. They made me laugh, didn’t make me fear for the future, and taught me a few things along the way.
  2. Started official training for the half-marathon in Valencia.
  3. Decided to do more than my silly (although apparently we’ll-received) posts on the Aaptiv Facebook page and revived the half-marathon blog I started about a year ago
  4. Failed to let go of being irritated by someone I don’t really know. I’ve gone and wedged an online person under my skin, to the point of dreaming about them and waking up furious. I’m an idiot. Memo to self: either turn it into a story or get therapy.
  5. Booked tickets to Boston / Ptown, so Bobapalooza Stateside’18 is officially a go.
  6. Immersed myself in the new Anne Tyler. Debating whether or not to buy a cactus. I’ve decided to try to channel the goddess and reframe irritating people as quirky characters who can be written about with warmth, humor and compassion.
  7. Quickly realized that I will most likely fail at #6.
  8. Finished a month(ish) of padel classes with three of the most charming torturers instructors. They challenged me while making me laugh and taught me: better to approach things from the side, prepare as quickly as possible, remain open, and the use of force usually means a loss of control.
  9. These lessons apply to padel as well.
  10. There is a sequel to Uno called Dos, although I haven’t played it.

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Hace demasiado tiempo

It´s been almost 5 years since I’ve been here.

It´s been almost 5 years since I started this blog, which I’ve written in a handful of times.

It’s been almost a year since my last post.

Time for a change, I think.  Not quite sure what that’s going to be, but I keep hearing / feeling /thinking about putting something out there.

#staytuned #talkingtonoone

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Mokai Mouths

Mokai being the local chirringuito (seasonal beach bar/café) where I’ve hung out the past few summers.

This was from an exercise I did for a writing workshop.  Task = go to a cafe or restaurant you frequent and pay attention to people’s mouths.  Focus more on observation than story-telling.


Blonde beardy boy, neither hipster beardy (is that’s what he’s trying for?) nor Spanish sexy beardy, sucks his fingers, one by one, then wipes his mouth with a reasonably useless scrap of a napkin that comes from the dineresque dispenser/menu holder. He continues to chew once his fingers are out of his mouth. Was he sucking his fingers with a mouth full of food?

His girlfriend is also a chewer. Her left cheek is fuller than her right, like a chipmunk favoring one side of its mouth. Maybe she’s just been to the dentist. Maybe she needs to go to one.


The older local people here tend to keep their mouths closed more than the younger tourists. They speak when they have something to say, enjoying their time and soaking in in the salty sea air, as opposed to succumbing to the urge/need to fill the breezy void with their desire to be heard. Sometimes it’s more pleasant to listen to the sea than to hear yourself speak. Maybe they’ve learned that with age. Or maybe they’ve just run out of things to talk about.


The black straw of his raised drink hovers a few inches below his mouth, like a mini microphone. He runs his tongue between his teeth and the insides of his cheek while he’s talking, trying to dislodge whatever’s left of his lunch before he slurps down that last slug of sangria. Setting his glass down, he scratches and tugs on one ear. His mouth simultaneously open and closes, a ventriloquist’s dummy whose controls are attached to his earlobe.


There’s a new waiter this year, not an unusual occurrence. He’s a bit more efficient than previous models and friendly, albeit a bit aloof.

He repeats my order back to me in English, even though I gave it in Spanish. He sounds Eastern European, and I remember him doing the same thing a couple weeks ago. Is my Spanish so shit that he needs to check his understanding? Does he just like to practice? Does he want me to know I don’t have to try to speak Spanish because he’s more comfortable with English?

He looks a bit rough around the edges (in a good way) and his rare smile reveals crowded, crooked and tobacco-stained teeth. He looks more like a carny than a chirringuito waiter (again, in a good way).


She licks her lower lip before bringing the cigarette to her mouth. Her face tightens as she inhales, like she’s sitting on a vacuum cleaner that’s pulling everything inwards. She floats her hand to the side, like Norma Desmond motioning to someone in the wings, trying keep the cigarette away from her and her friend (yes, yes, yes, darling, it’s a terrible habit but one must have a vice, mustn’t one?). Her face is now relaxed, lips full and mouth open. She gazes at the cigarette like it’s a camera attached to her selfie-stick arm. She makes an open-mouthed fish-lip face as the smoke wafts from her body in a lazy cloud.

Her friend waits for her to re-engage in their conversation, her own mouth alternately occupied by a skinny, hand-rolled cigarette and one of the two black straws sticking out of her fruity cocktail. Her mouth bobs between the rollie and the straw, then back to the rolli, never missing a beat. Like she’s doing alternating sets of two different exercises at the gym. Her lips are always slightly apart unless they’re engaged with smoke or drink.


Some guy joins another guy, who has been sitting with his mobile since I got here, at his table. They exchange hellos and consult each other about beverages, then order dos cañas, por favor (draft beer is always a safe bet, and they score points for being polite) from the carny camarero.

The newcomer is very chatty (perhaps nervously so) and clearly Spanish, what with the way the tip of his tongue darts in and out between his teeth while making that sound that lives somewhere between “s” and “c”. His tablemate, who has long since put down his phone, grins to one side, his lips semi-revealing what appears to be perfect, glistening smile. The grinner’s eyes never leave chatty boy’s mouth. He leans in ever so slightly.

If one were to fill in the thought bubble above his head, it’d read something like “I’m not really thirsty. Let’s get to part two of this Grindr date so you can put that tongue to better use.”


She’s the only person here wearing lipstick, a pinkish coral. She has mirrored, oversized tortoiseshell shades. Her highlighted hair is pulled back into a lazy ponytail. She drinks white wine and talks on her mobile … the old-fashioned way, holding it against one ear. She sets down the wine and slowly raises one patata brava at a time to her mouth, using an oversized toothpick as a skewer. She gently holds the cube of deep-fried starch between her front teeth while she pulls the stick out.

She has some more wine.

When she eats her hummus-covered pita, she puts it in her mouth then bites off a corner. She places the rest back on her plate before closing her mouth.

No food ever touches her lips.

I will have to try this at home

She never stops her cell phone conversation.

Her earrings are amazing.


Carny camarero delivers the beers to chatty boy and his still grinning friend.  They thank him (ever the polite ones) and ask for la cuenta (when he has the time). He walks over to the touchscreen that’s mounted on a pillar. His mouth moves as he taps in the commands needed to print the bill. Is he talking to himself? Reciting lines for an audition? Practicing his English or Spanish? Quietly telling off the table who recently left without leaving him a tip?


It’s almost 25° out, but the guy sitting next to me is wearing a knitted cap. Coldplay fans never die, they just grow ginger caterpillars under their nose. His moustache looks like it has wax in it.

Maybe his girlfriend wanted a mustache too, but since she couldn’t match his she has opted for a piercing between her left nostril and upper lip. There is a beauty mark under her right nostril in the same area. Never confuse symmetry with balance.


The French waiter from last year (somehow more kissable than last season) brings a picture of orange something (a quick carta consultation says it’s cava with mango and peach) to mannequin mouth and his buddies. They’re clearly here for the afternoon.

And things are getting serious: they are now drinking without straws.

What is that boy’s name? I asked him countless times last year and it never stuck. They usually don’t return for a second season, but that’s no excuse.

His chin fuzz is a lit little less wiry this year and a little more filled out, but still not enough to be called a proper goatee. His smile is a little more genuine than I remember. His teeth are whiter. His arms are more defined.  His haircut a soupçon more stylish.

He says hola to me as he sidles between the tables and I nod and say bon jour. Does he remember me or is he just being friendly?

He flashes that smile, his upper lip lined by a pencil-thin moustache … more because that’s all he can grow than because he wants to make an ironic statement.

Chirringuito waiters are rarely just being friendly.

Yes, totally more kissable this year.

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