Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Working Girls (Part 2)

Anyway, after class today, I decided it was time to do a little grocery shopping. I was aware that there was a big supermarket in the basement of El Corte Inglés (source of many of my creature comforts here in Spain - camera, CD player, laptop, to name just a few), but hadn't yet checked it out. This afternoon was my chance.

A cornu-bloody-copia, I tell you. Aisle upon aisle of delectable goodies - produce, baked goods, wine, cheeses from around the world, delicious microwaveable treats, chocolate (¡my God, the chocolate!). I checked my wallet - over 100 € - no worries there.

So maybe I went a little overboard. I hadn't eaten lunch, so there was that psychological thing about shopping while hungry. Plus, there wasn't a whole lot at home. And everything looked so good. Now, I'm not a completely impractical person, so I knew enough to avoid the trolley (American = cart) option, because I was going to have to lug this all the way home - a good seven blocks or so. But - and this was my undoing - in this supermarket, they had these really cute baskets, which came with two handles. One handle is for people who just want to carry the basket in the usual way. But the second handle extends, like the handle on those wheeled suitcases that certain travelers insist on bringing as hand-luggage on planes. So that, at a certain point, you could just wheel your basket around after you. And the basket was deep, capacious, inviting.

So when I found myself at the other side of the cashier's, it was with more inexpertly bagged groceries than I had perhaps intended. Certainly more than was entirely prudent. All right - six, if you must know. Inexpertly bagged, because convenience at El Corte Inglés only goes so far, and you have to take care of the bagging part yourself. But, no matter, all this recent walking has left me fitter than I've been in a long time, and there was no particular rush to get home, so I could take my time. Of course, in addition to the six grocery bags, I had a shoulder bag of books and stuff to manouevre as well.

Off I set, laden like a pack animal, with three bags of booty in either hand, and my shoulder bag draped across my torso somewhat awkwardly. Fortunately, I knew the most direct route home. Somewhat less fortunately, it involved traversing two blocks of the Calle de la Montera. A name which will be familiar to attentive readers of this blog from Friday's post (strumpet city). Now, under normal circumstances, making my way along the tart walk is not a particularly challenging task - brisk pace, forward gaze, avoiding eye contact - there you go. Unfortunately, this afternoon, things proved to be a little more challenging. First of all, those damned bags were heavy, and I was starting to flag. More alarmingly, three of the bags seemed on the verge of imminent rupture, right as I got to the point where traffic was heaviest.

And, of course, that's exactly what happened. Just as I reach ground zero, strumpet central, if you will, two of the bags break, and half of my groceries are scattered across the pavement. At 4:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, the girls aren't busy, so this is by far the most exciting thing that's going on in the neighborhood. I stand, transfixed, options scampering through my brain like the oranges bouncing around on the sidewalk. Let me tell you, the flight response of just dropping everything and running for the hills was pretty tempting. Though not entirely realistic.

What are Kubler-Ross's five stages? Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. In 20 seconds, right there in the middle of the sidewalk, I went through them all. But no, the sidewalk just would not cooperate by opening up and swallowing me. I hear catcalls. Whistling. Phrases I couldn't even begin to process. Then, next thing I know - God bless 'em - the girls are rallying around to help. Women (I think they were all women) in hot pants and skimpy tops are retrieving my groceries from all over the sidewalk. They just think it's the funniest thing.

And, of course, they´re right. Objectively viewed, it was pretty damned hilarious. And here is what I'm proud of, gentle readers. After about 90 seconds of sheer, absolute, mortification - even I got the joke. And started to laugh. Slightly hysterically. But still.

A few things I learned about hookers this afternoon. They are as touchy-feely as all get out. But they were the ones who helped me put it all back together again, not allowing me to move on until everything was sensibly packed this time, in the four surviving bags. While the more bourgeouis madrileños looked on in unhelping amusement.

So, yes, damn it! This is indeed a "hooker with a heart of gold" story. Common decency forces me to retract every smug word of Sunday's post (hookers don't have hearts of gold) . Because this afternoon, it is the working girls of the Calle de la Montera who saved my butt. This post is dedicated to them.


Meera Hyphenated said...


Good people can show up everywhere. This is the heart of my philosophy! Thank you for illustrating another example.

Wonder Dog said...

It's too bad that you're not here to hear me cracking up, giggling, & carrying on, sort of like a mom with her family in an Amsterdam porno shop.

Lauren said...

So wonderful! Thank you for sharing this story with us.

I want more tart stories!

Anonymous said...

you did it delibertly

Anonymous said...

Few know how exactly how inept your grocery-packing skills might be, but judging from my knowledge of your gift-wrapping skills, I can picture these bundles all too clearly. Thank heaven for tarty girls.


O'Donovan said...

Far be it from me to suggest something illegal (or possibly not, but certainly, er, questionable) for my own prurient amusement, but I think that you should walk home by the Calle de la Montera every single day.

Puzzled said...

Bravo for a most delightful and inspiring tale.

The Agent of Entropy said...

What a great story. Your posts make nostalgic for my brief trip to Madrid