I realize that, despite my best efforts, I might as well change the name of "Storytime Wednesday" to "Erin's Hilarious Encounters with the Opposite Sex, Usually Involving a Language Barrier." But delving into why these stories are the ones I remember is a topic for another day. This is about Málaga.
Having absolutely loved visiting Barcelona, I wanted to explore another part of Spain, despite the elaborate pantomimes necessary as I clearly do not speak the language*. I was advised to see Málaga, and I highly recommend for those who haven't gone: there's fascinating architecture (it's one of the oldest cities in the world!), a lovely beach, and vibrant colors everywhere. It was the last night of my trip, and I decided to make it a "treat yo' self" evening.
One of the things the Spanish and I do not necessarily agree on is food. I don't really understand why dinner happens SO LATE and many of the more prominent flavors - sea insects, garlic, olives - are not my cup of tea**. I usually end up just getting tapas and calling it a night, and, to bring things full circle, I decided to revisit a cafe I'd been to on my first night in the city.
I was initially paired with a waiter who, upon realizing I didn't speak Spanish, ran away terrified and was replaced by a waitress who spoke halting, but good, English. I sat on the patio by myself, ordered some tapas and cava, and then dessert and, what the hell, some more cava. It might be worth noting that I am a ridiculous lightweight, particularly when it comes to sparkling wine, so with two glasses of cava I was having myself a little party. As I relaxed, stuffed from the meal and pretty tipsy, the frightened-rabbit waiter came out and started speaking to me in Spanish, which I obviously didn't understand, so he enlisted the aid of the waitress once more.
"A boy," she said, "would like to offer you a drink."
This remains the only time in my life this has happened to me, so I was actually pretty intrigued. "What boy?" I asked.
Obviously indicating that she was supposed to keep it a secret, she replied, "I don't know! A boy!"
I really did not want anything else to drink, but temptation of free booze was too great, so I got another glass of cava. Having already finished my entire meal and dessert, I just sat there, sipping awkwardly and looking around wondering who the culprit could be, until a several minutes later "the boy" sat down across from me and started speaking to me in Spanish.
This man was WAY too old to be talking to me. I was 25, and based on the white and grey in his beard, I would guess he was at least 20 years older, and not in the sexy George Clooney kind of way. He had apparently missed the award-winning charades display I had put on earlier in order to understand the menu, so when my response to his rapid-fire speaking was a completely blank, gape-mouthed fish-face, he managed to eke out some English. I would put his vocabulary at a maximum of 10 words, creating the rare situation of him speaking less English than I speak Spanish. We proceeded to stumble through the most awkward, stilted conversation of my life. The only part I clearly remember is him saying he thought I was Nordic, which still wouldn't explain why he thought we would be able to understand each other.
After what seemed like an eternity, he clapped his hands together and said that he had paid for my dinner, and that he would like me to join him and his friends at a bar across the street, something I would rather be lobotomized than do. I don't know what part of our - and I am using this word VERY loosely - "conversation" indicated to him that spending more time together was a good idea.*** I bought some time by saying I had to go to the bathroom, and was literally pacing inside, trying to figure out if the window was too small to escape through.
Finally I emerged and ran into frightened-rabbit waiter. "Did he really pay for my dinner?" I asked.
"Yes," he said, "And the back door is that way." Thank you, rabbit waiter.
I don't know if sober Erin would have been so bold as to do this, because I still have that terrible girl complex that I "owe" someone if they buy me things, but treat-yo-self, three-cavas-deep Erin literally sprinted the fuck back to the hotel, where I spent my last night in Málaga holed up, blissfully alone.
*For those of you who say Italian and Spanish are basically the same: Yes, but also, NO.
**That being said, I will eat the shit out of some jamón.
***We couldn't even communicate basic thoughts like, "Why are you doing this, you creepy old man," or "Why do you stupid Americans come to other countries without speaking the language."