March 20, 2005

Bar Story

The other night, Kiko and I go out for a drink. I hadn't hung out with him since we left for Cologne and with this upcoming week of ours in Madrid, it was high time to toast a few drinks with the nicest guy in Tossa de Mar.

Stephanie begged off, wanting to sleep in a little before our drive into France in the morning, knowing as well that it is good for me to spend man time with men.

(Beat, one, two, three....)

We decide on Bar Josep and there we found Josep (another Josep, they abound by that name here... the Catalans have an antique saying: "In every home you will find a Josep, a Joan and a donkey." ... or now, a scooter), Josep the builder. This is the guy I described in a recent blogpost as "Kiko's childhood friend". We met Josep again after that episode ("Last Lap") and we talked a great deal and even danced a crazy dance together. After that night, Stephanie and I bumped into him again the next morning and Josep was as jubilant as ever, still dressed in his red and blue warm up outfit with super white Addidas that made a funny pattern when he danced his crazy dance. That morning, he assured us that he only drinks alcohol... no drugs, nothing else, just alcohol. What fidelity!

So on this "man's night out", Josep is happy to see us. He was tickled to know us, his friends the Californians. "California, eeees all right!" And then another toast with bottles clanking so hard I think they're going to break.

Josep and Kiko are builders, both of them work in the old part of town, theJosep rustic buildings. Josep is hard on a deadline rebuilding a bar interior across the street. He's studied Gaudi and he wants to apply a few such licks in his new project. He's very proud of his work and he wants me to visit the jobsite very soon. I've been able to peek into the doorway and I saw columns twisting upward, clad in broken tile. ?Muy bien! More toasts to Antonio Gaudi.

Josep asked me: "Do you like Tossa, Dennis?" Yes of course, Josep. Josep looks at Kiko. I'm sure they've met many people who have left this vacation town over the years. "Do you want to stay here for always, Dennis?" Yes, of course Josep. We all toast and laugh. Then I explain in the most economical manner as I could, the idea that we want to live both in Los Angeles and Tossa de Mar. I'm not sure how much of this they understood, I'm not sure how much of this Stephanie and I understand... just how we will manage this feat. This is our big brass ring. With that, the conversation shifted to another topic.

Kiko said that his business is hard on people, in his words: "People are destroyed." It is a hard life, very physical, it eats up life forces very fast. Kiko verifies this with Josep, who confirms the assertion: yes, people get destroyed. It is the same in construction in the States, I said. It's a life for the very young and we can only hope that they find a trade and matriculate up the career ladder somehow. Most of the workers are young and bohemian. They like to live outside the lines of society. They make a little money and spend it all as soon as they can. I knew a few guys like that in the Navy. I know a couple in the artworld.

Then, Kiko nodded in the direction of Joan, one of his workers who was watching a movie in the corner of the bar. Joan is in his late seventies, and he is a laborer who has decided apparently to camp out on the first rung of the ladder of the construction industry. Kiko is afraid of finding him dead of a heart attack on a jobsite one day. It's hard physical work and Joan seems to have no other ambition, except the ladies. Joan is a ladies man in Tossa de Mar. His prowess was described with an obscene hand/arm gesture (I shant describer here further). Stephanie and I see him in the streets after work, very well dressed and walking with a dancer's walk, a perpetual smile on his face, no doubt to rendezvous with a lover. Kiko told me that joan has only a rented room to call his own, no house, no property. "Can you imagine, Dennis, coming home every night to only one room and awaking to the same job every morning? Only one room, that is rented?" No, I can't, Kiko. But look at him. Well dressed, legs crossed urbanely, a cortado nursed at the table and a movie playing on a high definition screen. Bar Josep is his living room. He seems very happy, very content!

Then, an acquantance of theirs comes into the bar. I am not introduced. A guy in his late thirties, hair in a Seventies to the shoulder style, baseball cap. He asked Josep for a job. Kiko felt free to fill me in on the situation in English as the scene developed. Kiko looked at me in the eye steadily as he mouthed the words: "He can get you anything you want." Now, obviously this is a further encryption but I am both thick headed enough and perverse enough to want a little more explication. What kind of things? Drugs? What kind of drugs? No reply was offered, just a "Yes.". Then, the word "...mafia..." comes up and we all knew to modulate the subject.

Kiko told me that this lad "...has had a bad past but now he is changed and he is making his life a better one...". "He has discovered where North is, Dennis." "Before he did not know this, but now he has discovered where North is." Ah, that is good, Kiko. His request for construction work is more evidence for that. Kiko notes that he himself is not asked for work since he was burned long ago by the lad. But nevermore, and the young man knows not to ask Kiko for anything. Kiko is generous with him in other ways, smiling, shaking hands with encouraging remarks.

About this time, a group of young men file in and sit the corner of the bar. Heads shaved, cammo pants, some with suspenders, tight black t-shirts and black boots. It is a mark of my na?vet? that I don't add them all up, I thought they were latter day Punkers. Josep leans over and in careful Castellano, says: "The boys in the corner are Fascists, Nazis. I don't like them. They are very bad." Kiko confirms the testimony. I then notice the "SS" on their t-shirts. Josep continues: "But there are only a few of them here, maybe six or seven." I wanted to snap a foto, but there wasn't a chance. Maybe they are still only latter day Punks? Rebellion is soooooooo complicated nowadays. Kiko adds: "Maybe one day they will discover where North is, too."

The night proceeded like this and in time, people drift out as midnight approached. Josep had work to do, a hard deadline. Stephanie and I had to drive my mother to France in the morning. And Kiko had to get up early for a paintball event, an opportunity that will pass me by, unfortunately. I like the martial arts.

Right about this time, a young lad enters the bar, locking his eyes on mine. Dressed like a Goth, all in black and leather... he was skinny with a beak nose and sunken eyes and black hair long and tied in a pony tail. He walked straight for me and he pulled up the chair next to mine and with his nose inches away and eyes wide began to sing in Calsellano/Catalan. I wish I could replicate his verse for you: "NO PUEDO ROMPAR?/ SIGNIFICAR?...." blah blah blah, you had to be there. He sung like this for quite a long time, his front teeth broken, his voice harsh and raspy. He held a music CD in his hands, smeared with greasy fingerprints. I looked around while sustaining the assault and in time, Josep leaned over to me and said: "He is a music-radical."

Ah yes, he's an artist! ?Muy Bien!

Then the kid launched in to another song, inches from my face.

Maybe I can introduce the lad to my friends at PruessPress one day?

Posted by Dennis at March 20, 2005 6:42 PM

Leave a comment