In Practice, Production on December 13, 2010 at 10:43 am


Blood. Spain. Me.

Where’s this going?

I don’t know.

Hot blooded. That’s what they say of the Spanish. Or Mexicans come to think of it. Or Italians. Basically anyone south of Brighton. It’s an awful cliché of course. A stereotype; it conjures images of fraught love trysts, fighting in the streets, bull rings, criminality and…well, blood.

This week I have had to jump through another couple of (relatively painless) bureaucratic hoops because I need to go to a doctor in the extracción department and give a sample of mine. If I’m to continue on my current medication then my blood is going to have to behave itself. Levels of this and that must remain stable. I need my blood to remain placid, tranquil, cool – so I must go along to my new, hot-blooded doctor for an analítico.

I have visions of a hairy chest beneath the stained white coat, a bowl of olives on the desk which also supports his feet as he puffs away on a fat cigar. From somewhere beneath his handle-bar moustache he tells me my blood is “muy bueno”, emits a deep belly laugh and charges me a fortune.

It won’t be like that of course because that’s just nasty-minded xenophobic stereotyping, fun as it is.

Also, according to the appointment card I’ve been given, her name is Beatriz.

aahnahleeteeko – the Spanish make even a blood test sound like something delicious, something garlicky that once lived in the sea and now comes with dipping bread. Extracción sounds like something exquisite you’d be served in a late night bar in Basque country. It’s a language of flavour, of – dare I say it – passion. Of love, of drama.

English? Not so much. Ours is a language of trade:

“I’d like a packet of crisps please”.

Cheese and Onion or Salt and Vinegar?”.

“Salt and Vinegar please”.

“That’ll be seventy pence”.

Not the same, is it?

I’ve already given quite a bit of blood this week. I don’t believe there’s been a night where I haven’t, following lights out and the descent of silence,  flicked them back on again as I leap out of bed in a mindless, psycopathic fit of impotent rage.

Mosquitos have a way of making you feel like King Kong, clinging for dear life to the Empire State building as they swoop and dive around your ear with their maddening high-pitched whine. K sleeps through it (infuriatingly), but once I have been made aware of their presence, sleep is not a possibility.

On my side is the fact that our bedroom walls and ceiling are pure white – with a bit of luck and determination – not to mention patience – I can spot them. Once I have, they die. I’m sorry to sound so ruthless but we are talking here about a creature bereft of any redeeming features. If you know of one there is a comments section below. Enlighten us why don’t you.

They also have a gift for making one feel foolish – less intelligent, in fact, than a mosquito. I haven’t counted the number of times this week that I have slapped myself in the face. Hard. Trust me though – it’s a big number.

At the very least it has provided K with some entertainment. When I have one of the little monsters in my sights it doesn’t follow that she has. Each night therefore she has been presented with the spectacle of her apoplectic boyfriend (who bear in mind prefers to sleep au natural) leaping around the room punching and slapping the air like one of those madmen you see in the street shouting at the traffic.

 “Got it! Oh, no, wait a minute….”

“There it is! No….”.

 Picture it. No wait a minute – don’t.

With my analítico looming I realise now how stupid I have been – the blood spats of my little murder victims are testimony to their own extraction skills. I should have been collecting them in a jar. I’m sure I would have had enough by now.

 “Morning, Beatriz. There’s your f**king sample”.

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  1. Ugh! I hate mozzies…nothing redeeming about those little disease vectors. I, too, have to have blood tests every year or so because of a thyroid condition. I’ve been used to rolling up my sleeves since I was a little kid. Still can’t look at it going into the vials though – gives me the creeps!

    • I’m just back from the test and watched it go into the vials. that stuff really pours out of you doesn’t it? Maybe it felt safer in the vials than it does in my mosquito-vulnerable veins…

  2. One unseen, unfelt, unheard mozzie left me gave me Dengue Fever when I was five months pregnant. The little bugger would be so proud if he knew just how many blood tests he triggered.

    Great post! Love your work. Hope Beatriz has a soft touch.

  3. Now there is a thought! Collecting blood by mosquito. Love your analysis of the Spanish language. And, let me tell you, because I once was one of them, your image of the Spanish doctor is applied to the Spanish lawywer too, sans the white coat, that’s replaced by the black toga. And yes, our name is ahhhvoooogaaaadoooo!Sounds delicious or what?

  4. The picture used doesn’t do them justice (it looks like an old fellow…), you do know that the blood sucking mosquitoes are actually females, right? 🙂 (Hence the name of the doctor that will do the extracción – Beatriz) Mosquito males are feeding on honey or something like that…completely harmless those guys…

  5. They are ruthless! In Italy, we have the “tiger mosquitos” so here I am all spring thinking there are these big monsters flying around. Come to find out they are actually smaller than the regular ones but are called tigers because they can bite through your clothes and a simple shake doesn’t get rid of them. You actually have to kill the bastards to get them away!

    They became my alarm clock most of the summer when they buzzed around my ears at around 6am and I woke up with red bumps all over my face. And the worst part was their LACK of interest in my Italian boyfriend… they have it out for my American blood.

  6. They like my ears when I’m sleeping…….and yes they can make me feel stupid when I “clock” myself in the middle of the night.
    BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZz…………..instant insomnia!

  7. Can you imagine of your doctor really did have a bowl of olives available? I would be much more inclined to go for check-ups. To be honest, I would be much more inclined to visit the doctor if I had anything but major medical insurance.

    Once again Robin, I think you writing is a notch above. Always impressed.

  8. Thanks as ever Canaan! Your support means a lot – you are probably back in Seattle now? Freezing I bet. Christmassy though…

  9. This article has got me concerned! Having read a recent article of yours Robin you have some confusions – I think you are really dealing here with VAAAMMPPIIIRRRRROOOS!

  10. A humorous look at mosquitoes. Unfortunately, it’s a sensitive subject for me. I am a mosquito MAGNET!! My only hope when I travel to places with mosquitoes is that there is at least one person that they like even more than me! I can be a little obsessive about them as well. I can relate to your feelings. Just not as humorous for me 🙂

  11. HAHAHA. Oh man, I laughed at this so hard! It’s true.. there is NOTHING worse than a mosquito! When I was volunteering in Uruguay I kept waking up the first night absolutely in fits of rage at all of the mosquitos. I kept thinking it was maybe one or two, and then I turned on my ipod to find I was under siege! I went nuts, slapping and hitting all of them, waving a book around my head like a madman and hiding beneath my sleeping bag. One of them was above me and I hit it and killed it.. just before it fell in my eye.

    Yea.. in my EYE. The only thing worse than a mosquito in your ear is one in your eye. UGH I’m dying again just thinking about it.

    Oh, and the next day, I counted and I had 88 bites.. head to toe.

  12. Hahahaha, I was cracking up reading this, and unfortunately, I could do nothing but picture you jumping and swatting and screaming and carrying on, all in the nude, mind you. Hilarious, as I have done similar things, much to the entertainment of my wife. I HATE mosquitos, but it’s a funny thing. They kill me when we’re at home here in the States. Just brutal. And they hardly touch my wife. But for some odd reason, when we were in NZ and SE Asia, it was the opposite. They hardly touched me while mauling her. Stupid animals!

  13. Mosquitos, blood, extracción — wonderful job putting all that together in such an amusing and engaging post.

  14. I hate it when you can’t sleep cause they are so bad. The worst is in Thailand, which being a Buddhist country, means you’re only supposed to swat them away, not kill them. Oh the willpower!

  15. beautiful writing robin! revenge extraction- what a perfect idea! surely even the thai buddhists could get behind that one (karma, right?) i’m one of the lucky ones- they don’t really like my blood 🙂

    • That does indeed make you very lucky! Infuriatingly lucky!!
      For me it’s the whining – I haven’t had a huge number of bites and the ones I’ve had have been benign enough – no prolonged infection or irritation. It’s the damn whining, right by your ear…

  16. What a great piece of writing. You have such a gift for story telling. For me, I feel the same way about flies. I don’t think there is any country in the world that has them as bad as Australia. They drive you f**** insane. They are relentless, all day long at flying up your nose, in your ears, buzzing around your eyes and trying to fly into your mouth. And not just one or two.
    Mozzies I can live with, just. But, these flies I swear will send you to a place that has white walls, ceilings and straight jackets

  17. Thanks so much Caz – flies are pretty low key around here but I have been to a couple of places where they were like a plague (Kenya, the fields on an Israeli Moshav…)and I don’t envy you or Australia its flies!

  18. You know what´s strange, they really like to bite my legs but never my arms so I don´t often notice them.

  19. I am a magnet but now I always wear a ton of repellant, which is almost as annoying.

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