Thursday, January 6, 2011

ArtTraveler confesses to breaching 'peace and love' admonition: the dark side appears

Image by S. Van Drake, Hollywood, CA August 2008
I confess that while I preach peace and love as a frozen-in-the-60's radical hippy kinda guy, I am human to the core and harbor a very dark side.

As Claudius in Hamlet, I realized just how deliciouis the dark side can be, if you're only playing it on stage as I did at the Brainerd Children's Theater in the early 90's (that's Brainerd, Minnesota, USA).

But not in real life.

Enter, real life.

We turn to nearby Competa, Spain on a day when I was doing a friend a favor that turned out badly.

This happened about 1:30 p.m. on 31 Dec. 2010 on Calle San Antonio (named after a famous fascist or in the alternative, after the Catholic Saint and protector of all animals, San Anton).

Competa's a much larger village than Canillas de Albaida and about 4 kms away, but still the streets were made only for horses and mules and now - with no widening - are converted into two-way vehicle non-thoroughfares. 

I was returning from the coast in my 1999 Green Nissan 2.0 litre Primera, the newest love of my life, a car with potentially as long a life as I would need at age 67. But on San Antonio?

With me, Nikki, a Brit woman and my back massage therapist. She lives off San Antonio and I had bags of her groceries in my car for her and boyfriend and dogs.

"You ever drive on San Antonio?" she asked as we get to the main square, from which, yes, I had accidently found myself on this, the most dangerous street in Competa three times previously.

I should have said, "No,  walk your damn bags to your damn home. Your boyfriend is young, strong and virile and I am old, weaker than usual, in signficant pain (herniated disc) and quickly ascending into senility.

But of course, I relented, a choice I now deeply regret, which provides prelude for a climax to this story or who knows, perhaps another even more chilling future chapter.

"No, I hate driving on San Antonio," I told her. Been on it never on purpose three times and each time damaged my (former) car and suffered elevated blood pressure, I said.

But she gave me this look like...well, not a pout but a slight sigh of dissapointment. That was enough to ignite the rescuer in me and I launched myself onto the fascist or saintly street wide enough, just barely wide enough for my car if the street had no curves (it does) and with my side mirrors tucked back like a cat ready to fight.

Off I went at a crawl until alas, boyfriend Dominic appeared and we unloaded and everything from that point on was going to be pure hell.

Little did the happy and well supplied couple know, but only a few meters ahead, I spied two cars, one coming down from the only other feeder onto San Antonio and another head on. The double whammy.

So the coming-down car at a 40 degree angle burns his clutch backing up, getting out of the way. One down, one to go. Then the car ahead of me backs up into an area where our two cars pass each other only milimeters apart. 

Both of us go eyeball to eyeball and smile with a sense of Formula One precision and relief.

But then I arrived at the end of San Antonio to find three construction workers had decided to block off the end of the street with homemade barriers, thus putting me in the impossible position of sleeping in my car the next 24 - 48 hours.

The macho middle-aged characters were laying bricks into sand. No grouting yet. No drying concrete.

I needed to turn around and go the other way down San Antonio to escape.

This construction work had gone on for a year but I had no clue these hombres would simply take it upon themselves, as they often do, to do precisely what they want when they want and only because they can.

In Spanish, this is called "Vivo Yo," loosely translated, me first.

I approached one of these guys and in my broken Spanish made it clear I was in a helluva predicament, pointing to my green beast belching out CO2, lights on staring down their temporary fence.

Please be reasonable, I pleaded.

He laughed almost and said no way. The fence stays.

I stormed off descending quickly into my darker side, the Irish half of my character, yelling in English and Spanish.

The trio of workers proceeded to happily block off yet another street.

By this time there's a crowd forming above me and to the front of my car about 20 metres away. Spaniards love to observe each other and find life can be very fascinating even if deadly boring.

This, however, was one of those moments in time and place that could have turned deadly.It certainly was not boring.

I returned to their temporary fence and dismantled part of it, moving it gently against a nearby wall and started to man handle a yellow metal barrier. The foreman macho dude screamed at me after noting my insubordination and all three ran towards me.

At the time, I was wearing my almost new Croatian Army surplus camoulflage shirt I bought for 4 Euros at a flea market two weeks ago, dirty military looking pants; and my hair made me look like Jesus with attitude.

And I did have an attitude. And I think that if I lost the glasses and threw myself on the cross I would be credible.

So the foreman guy walks up to me yelling in Andalu, a dialect of Spanish. I understand little other than he's upset and had staked out his territory.

There's sudden physical contact (the lawyer within me resists further clarification).

I stared at him briefly, turned and took down the rest of his fence, gently got behind the wheel of my car and  turned around on their sacred ground and putted off in the other direction along the perilous Calle San Antonio.

Oh, as I passed the irate man who had backed down in public, he looked at me fiercly as if to say his whole family would be armed with lethal batons soon.

I looked at him and said loudly, "Gracias" and drove off.

I just hope saying "Gracias" sufficed to save his honor; otherwise, for sure, there's gonna be trouble under the Spanish precept of pundanor, or point of honor.

And another chapter to this story could emerge.

Rock on and do as I say but not always as I do: practice peace and love. Take a peek at ArtTraveler's video collection on You Tube.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

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