restaurant

cgi catalan lizard

Tonight I finally met Raúl, and he’s amazing. Has these crazy wide-set eyes in something like topaz that he blinks probably one-third as often as most humans blink their eyes, like some kind of beautiful CGI Catalan lizard. I want to put a long-stemmed rose between his teeth every second that there isn’t one. He took me to a great dinner somewhere fancy near University Square, and when I saw another table’s hoopla and made as if to tell the waiter that it was my companion’s birthday, too, Raúl, unsmiling, unblinking, rose from his chair and got down on one knee beside mine to make an even bigger false scene. God I love being outsmarted. He has a whole plan about emigrating to the United States, a plan that involves marrying an Argentine flight attendant. After dinner we went outside to his motorcycle and he produced a helmet for me, which I put on backward, not even trying to be funny, just being a fucking idiot, and he laughed and laughed. Then I put it on correctly and we rode away and it was my turn to laugh but with the pleasure of the motion through the hot, still night. Later, we went to meet his visiting Polish manfriend in a gay bar with a redhead theme. The manfriend had a ladyfriend with him, also Polish, also gay, and he — the one of the two who spoke English — talked about her being on the prowl for shes, and we didn’t correct him because why would anyone ever put a stop to that? Since Raúl had treated me to dinner, I treated him to a toro rojo sin azucar. The bored gay boi Barcelona bartender (not a redhead, btw) was not interested in my Spanish and was like, Okay do you want a lime?

I am nothing if not a cultural relativist

I said,

God everything is just crumbling away

I’ve rolled up in here ready to conform to the preexisting zeitgeists so as to be as sensitive and welcome as possible and also, worst-case-scenario, not endanger myself, and now I’m just like, What does that even mean anymore? 

What’s real?

What’s the bedrock of interaction, of existence?

He said, 

Rachel, your mind is so open, it’s like a poem.

I said,

At dinner with an Englishman, a Canadian, a Chinese woman, and two Parisians (one of whom is ethnically Cambodian), how to deal most considerately with our North Moroccan waiter? Do I stack the plates to help him clear, or is that an insult? What about the times I invoked those people with national nouns instead of adjectives? Is the Parisienne “right” to ask if I mind if she smokes, or am I right to understand that Americans are wrong to think they — we — they — can expect any kind of “basic” “courtesy” from the world — is that a myth someone made up to keep us all happy enough to keep paying taxes and abiding by the laws, more or less, or whatever other illusions we’re collectively upholding? 

Is my conviction that I should not be robbed or raped strong enough to vest in me the power to reject that possibility when it presents itself, or will I acquiesce because that’s just what’s supposed to happen to guileless white women who wander North Africa alone, and I am nothing if not a cultural relativist?

my endless summer is almost over

08h15 EEST

Beach Bar Finikas

The first amazement of today is how sleepy this resort town is. I was up at seven and, by half-past, out and ready to be writing with a cup of coffee as one does in any functioning municipality, but this is the first establishment where I found so much as a sign of life, and still I was 20 minutes too early to be served. They told me I could sit and wait, though, so I am. 

The swathe of sand that underlies most of the table seating at this beachfront restaurant is raked carefully, with very few footprints in it, which means it is part of someone’s job to take up all the furniture, rake the beach, and put all the furniture back while stepping anywhere almost not at all. Who is that person, and what are they thinking about while they do it, and how does my or anyone’s patronage fit into their socioeconomy and consciousness? Who came up with the best practice for the fewest footsteps, and who enforces it, and who has anxious work dreams about it? These are droll observations for people who work in restaurants. 

This seat is directly beneath the gap between the end of their structural overhang and the roller of their awning, and I am chilled by the condensation dripping onto my shoulders. My endless summer is almost over. Maybe I won’t after all wade out while I wait into the Aegean, which is so still I don’t recognize it. Even the waves sleep late here, I guess. 

Now my coffee has arrived and is, as expected, a proper cup of sludge. I asked for it Greek with milk — διπλό ςελληνικό ςκαφές, με γάλα— and then when the waiter brought it there was visibly none in it and so I was like Hey can I have some milk and he was like There already is milk in there. But I will bring you a little more and brought me four additional creamers that I poured in, one by one, watching them be swallowed up by darkness.

Scroll to Top