25 February, 2008
In a way...
I was in Barcelona for sixteen days before I took my first night-time stroll alone. I was hungry for a durum from Malik's. My wallet was shoved in my front pocket along with my new cell phone, my keys, and my hand [protecting everything]. I wasn't taking any chances. Some call it paranoia, I call it vigilance. Tactful awareness.
That particular trip went off without a hitch. I made it back to RESA and grubbed on my delicious durum with a feeling of accomplishment and relief. I'd traversed the mean streets of BCN without being swindled by the swindlers, pick-pocketted by the pick-pocketters, or hooked by the nasty, scary man-hookers. But, as we've all realized, every late-night journey through the shady streets of Barc-town is a roll of the dice...I've got a one in six chance of not being heckled, eyeballed, or molested. I need some weighted dice.
Then one night I had a realization, an epiphany of sorts. I was leaving studio around 3am to cook up some comida and clear my head before getting back to work on something involving the word 'data'. As I entered the intersection between the chicken place and that ceramics store, I noticed that I was gettin' eyeballed by a few of the sketchy characters who'd set up shop there. Wearing a polo and north face...I may as well have been draped in an giant, well-coordinated American flag. Showboating.
North Africans: "hasish? marijuana?" Cromie: "no gracias".
Catalans: "shhesshh? charlie?" Cromie "no hablo".
Dirty Canadian hippy: "have you seen my shoes, man?" Cromie: "..."
And before that old Spaniard can breach my bubble..."no cervezas, gracias."
I didn't let any of their offers affect my b-line toward the dorms...at least they were being passive. Also, let's face it, it's hard out there on the streets..sometimes you gotta sling..to quote tupac, "that's just the way it is". It was only when a squirelly spanish kid started following me [despite my apparent lack of interest in whatever he was pedalling] that I became frustrated. After he made his proposals, he started doing that stupid little handshake dance that they do when they're trying to pick your pocket [most should know this dance well...Brett got got, now he knows, too]. At this point, I threw out a few choice words which conveyed my displeasure...words I learned from my older brother when I was twelve. This was followed by a brief exchange and some gestural profanities, some of which were legitimate...others I think I made up on the spot. Long story short...I made it to RESA unscathed.
Moral of the story: I don't want to be pestered every time I'm gettin' my pedestrian on. Here's the solution I came up with: look sketchier than the sketchballs. If you've got a hood, put it up! To avoid dealers: Have some swagger. Show determination in your stride. For deterring those awful hookers: Talk to yourself. Argue with yourself. Apologize to yourself for yelling. I've been workin' on my creepin' and I'm getting pretty good. You'd be surprised how easily you can slip under the radars of even the craftiest dealers and dumpster trolls. So if you see me skeezin' up the streets late night, don't be alarmed...it's a defense mechanism.