El Saltón

In Presentation, Production on March 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm

So I’m ambling down towards the Batalla de Salado a few days ago, all headphones and shades, when one of those hoppy things (cricket, grasshopper, whatever) collides with the side of my face. I wouldn’t think anything of it, to be honest, if it wasn’t the size of a trout; as it is I almost fall over.

Hours later, I will still be reeling.

By the time I recover awareness of my surroundings sufficiently to continue on my way, I am in the middle of a pedestrian crossing and surrounded by tooting car horns.

I’ll be on the alert from now on, I’ll tell you that.

Fucking huge.

It was flying, actually; not hopping. It had these ridiculously under-sized wings that just about kept it airborne, though not in a dignified way. I doubt it chose to smack me in the face. It didn’t really look like it had a great many choices at its disposal, trajectory wise.

Here’s a question. It’s for both creationists and evolutionists. Play nice, though.

Anyway, it’s this; what is the point of something being able to fly if it isn’t able to fly properly. What kind of evolutionary caprice or divine mischief is at work when an insect is granted the gift of take-off but not the ability to land. Or an insect that is bestowed both gifts – take-off and landing – but can’t fly straight.

We’ve all seem them. Some of us have been punched in the face by them. Grasshoppery type things, big fat beetles that bang into walls, daddy long-legs; they’re all…well they’re all a bit shit, aren’t they?

What is the point?

It won’t be flying around today. I’m safe today. The wind is back in full force and nothing is airborne if it knows what’s good for it. On top of that we’re in the house, not going anywhere in this hair dryer of a day.

It’s the third day of levante. Like any two responsible adults who’ve been holed up indoors for longer than they are accustomed to, we’ve been bickering like children. The cat must be wondering what’s going on. Mind you, he hasn’t been quite right himself; the wind has given him a distinct case of the jitters.

It gets to everyone, one way or another. K and I have struggled to be civil at times.

“What the hell is the matter with you?” Her eyes are a little wild, a little wired.

“You’re so tense! I just don’t know what to do with you at the moment. Why are you so tense?” she yelps at me, nostrils flared. I think I can see steam coming out of her ears.

“Maybe it’s because you’ve looked so pretty recently” I quip, trying to lighten the mood, “Maybe I’m tense because you always get to be the pretty one.”

She snorts.

“And the clever one. Yes, it must be difficult for you.”

Then she pouts. She’s a great pouter – one of the best. I desperately want to get on with the-thing-I-am-getting-on-with but I can’t resist a pout.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m old!”

“You’re not old.”

“I am old! I was looking at those photos of us in Israel yesterday. That was five years ago. Five years!”

“You look better than that now. You look younger than you did five years ago.”

A brief pause while she absorbs the suggestion.

You don’t.”

Not an easy opponent to spar with. And not an easy person to make sense of at times. A few days ago she matter-of-factly informed me (I forget the context) that she wasn’t all that keen on trees.

Not keen on trees! What have I gotten myself engaged to? The apocalypse??

It’s a word that comes to mind easily on a windy Tarifa day. And oh, what timing! My family is about to descend on us over the next couple of weeks and we’ll have the first of them as house guests in just a couple of days. I’ve been busy in the garden and on the patio, planting aromatic herbs, bougainvillea and shovelling the cat shit away.

I had visions of greeting them on the patio when they arrived, sitting in a sensory explosion of blossom and scent. I’d be at my laptop in some kind of smoking jacket.

“Welcome, welcome,” I would intone, “to our little haven. Please, do help yourself to some tinto de verano,” I would gesture towards the pitcher and the iced glasses. “I’ll be with you just the moment I’ve polished off this novella.”

It isn’t going to be like that. The front garden is a mess of leaves, junk mail and ice-cream wrappers. A few very frazzled looking stray cats are taking shelter in the corner. When they aren’t mewling they are defecating.

We’ve had to put some of the patio plants in the shed to protect them. For others it is already too late; the wind has snapped their spines. Maybe it’s a good thing. Not the broken plants – they cost me four euros. Each. But the fact that the wind has come to blow away my pretension. They’ll just have to take us as we come; slightly dishevelled and wild-eyed. The explosion of colour has been temporarily packed away. At least they’ll get some scent; a tom cat has been spraying our front door.

I don’t suppose we ever get to choose how we are seen, especially by our nearest and dearest. We construct comforting fictions as we go along, trying to beat a path through all the bluster. Then the fictions crumble or are blown away.

There are times when it appears that we don’t have all that many choices at our disposal, trajectory wise, but if we are lucky enough to be able to choose between being the grasshopper or the face it smacks, then better to be the bug.

Just about airborne, though not in a dignified way.

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  1. Thinking the grasshopper smacked you in defense of the trees.

    “I am the grasshopper, I speak for the trees.
    I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

  2. Beats me why the little buggers can’t fly properly. All I know is that the Turkish ones make quite a racket when they’re feeling randy. ‘Tis the sound of our summer.

  3. Good thing that your cat can’t fly.

  4. Your ‘idyllic’ life abroad sounds remarkably similar to ours. I was so excited to have a house with a breezy summer terrace. As it is, it’s mainly used as a place to hang out the washing and feed stray cats. My potted bougainvillea is struggling to sprout a single green shoot this year, let alone it’s usual vibrant pinkery! (I know there’s no such word. 🙂 ) Oh, and we get a lot of silly insects that can hardly fly, too.

  5. What a valiant effort trying to change the conversation to lighten the mood. When a woman is feeling old (true or not), it’s a very delicate situation.But enough about me… 🙂 I’m not going to attempt any kind of insight into the grasshopper vs face issue, but I think I’ve seen a few of those monster bugs myself.

  6. As always, really enjoy reading your little snapshots of life in Tarifa.

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