Monday, May 05, 2003

Okay, quick quick post just to let y'all know that my pictures are FINALLY up! Hooray! Cue the Funky Chicken Dance! Pop on over to my account at Yahoo Photos and give them a quick peruse. There's a lot of stupid ones in the Spain section, because I didn't feel like culling it down. Lots of palm trees and flowers.

Oh--and the rude American story I promised . . . okay, here goes.

So I'm in the hostel in Madrid, wonderful but thin-walled. Thursday night, my friend and I walk in to see the hostel owner (Spanish-speaking only, remember) talking to some American kids in the room next to ours. The guy at the door was looking at her with this totally "Dur?" look. You know the kind I mean. In frustration, she turns to us and asks Jen to translate her request for them to keep it down. Jen did so, and the kid got all offended: "I knew what she was saying!" Doubtful, but if he did, he could have at least nodded or something.

That's not the end of it. Flash forward now: it's about 10:00 on Friday night. I'm hopping an 8 am bus for Sevilla the next morning, and I know I'm not going to get much sleep on Saturday night because I'll be on the bus back to Madrid in order to catch my Sunday flight. Monday I start classes again, bright and early. Right. So I need sleep. Plus I really am tired from my day. BUT the same kids from next door start talking really loudly. I mean, it's one thing when it's a soft background mutter--you expect that in hostels. But this was LOUD. Things like, "Oh yeah, in seventh grade I was like really tubby" and so forth. I could honestly hear every word, crystal clear. After about an hour of praying for them to shut up, I gave up and knocked on their door. Following is a transcript of the conversation.

Me (trying to be nice about it): Hi. I realize it's not that late, but I've got an early bus to catch and the walls are pretty thin here, so could you just be a little quieter?

Kid (overflowing with attitude): Well, we're not going to stop talking.

Me (taken somewhat aback): Um--okay, but I just want you to know I can hear every word.

Kid (even more belligerently): What are we supposed to do, talk in a whisper?

Me (thoroughly exasperated): Fine. I'll wear headphones or something. I just wanted you to know that I can hear you talking. (I leave.)

And they CONTINUE talking, without any effort whatsoever to lower their voices. Around 1 am, exhaustion overcomes me and I pass out. About 5ish, I wake up to hear noise still coming from the room, but it sounds more like a TV or radio. I've become convinced that they left it on to spite me.

I realize that the condition of being an ass is not limited to Americans alone, but there seems to be a special brand of it that only we posess, this kind of the-world-is-my-McDonald's-Play-Area-and-screw-you-if-you-have-feelings-about-that. It was flabbergasting. I mean, did you ever once notice an apology in there? Anything that even hinted of it? No. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. No wonder most of the world hates us. I hate us, and I am us.

Okay, this was a lot less quick and somewhat more bitter than I meant it to be. I'll recommend a good book so as not to end it on a sour note.

The Story of Tracy Beaker Jacqueline Wilson. I'm actually not sure if she's available in the States, but I hope so, because she's a major bestseller over here. Anyway, this is not your normal sunshiney perfect-world children's book. Tracy Beaker's mum has left her in state care for the past several years. Tracy ain't no Oliver Twist, though. She gets in fights with the other kids, lobbies unashamedly for her favorite adult to adopt her, and generally looks out for Number One. But there's real sweetness under her shell. The other big thumbs-up to this book is the ending, which is not saccharine-sweet, everything-gets-fixed, happily-ever-after. Jacqueline Wilson isn't afraid to show us the way that some kids' lives really are, and how they really deal with it. Go see if you can find her.

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