My story on Hollaback Philly’s website: in which I have hope that there CAN be an end to street harassment, because men who know how to appropriately compliment a woman on the street DO exist.
My grandmother began my training at an early age. Spoon-to-mouth method mastered, hand steadying the bowl, I still regularly had tomato soup with drop noodles running down my face.
“What, do you have a hole in your chin?” chided my Babcia, handing me a napkin and a severe look as my tongue searched, catching drips.
I was instructed to always tilt the bowl away; As good as the soup may be, it’s still never polite to tilt the bowl towards you for those last good bits.
One day, I was alone in the dining room eating my usual bowl of after-school soup. Babcia was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Determined to follow the rules and seal up the hole in my chin, I focused on the tilt. Away from me went the far lip of the bowl, and I scooped and slurped, and tilted and scooped, and tilted until the tomato soup slipped out of my control and all over the table.
Babcia came in to see me looking abashedly at my lost soup. She immediately set a rag to the mess and said, “See? That’s why you always tilt away, because it’s better to have soup on the table than soup on your lap.”
When the one you love willingly sacrifices two whole days to get to you, you suddenly understand why the song And I Would Walk 500 Miles was written.
This afternoon was a lesson in let-it-pass-over-you situations. I was on the prowl for chapas, which both inference and Google translate tell me are sheeting for roofs. The man and woman who I was chauffeuring on this search directed me towards the Ministry of Community main building, where we were told, after waiting to be given an address on a piece of notebook paper, to go somewhere else. Location number two turned out to be not the destination but merely a stop on the trail, so we drove a few blocks down the street, where the chapas were being held but the office was closed, contrary to prior information. Since I had expected this expedition to take the entire afternoon, I remained tranquila, wondering if it was possible to make gnocchi from maiz flour. Also Will Smith’s Gettin Jiggy Wit It came on the radio as we drove home empty-trucked, which helped.
Saturday mornings are for catching up on note-writing from the week while I wait for the dust to seep out of my clothes soaking in plastic bins and buckets outside. I write in Spanish with some inserted English words. I take a break to respond to an e-mail from my mom. I try to write in Polish, thanking her for a postcard she sent me, but my mind is still in Spanish mode and I think first of otra instead of inne for “other,” of tengo instead of mam to say “I have” the other postcards you sent me taped to my wall. I notice that this is the first time I can switch directly from Spanish to Polish. Usually English is my home base, my thruway, my point B that you must pass through to get from point A to point C.
After crossing the river to Paraguay and spending the morning walking through the immense goods-for-cheap market, we thought about where to escape the midday heat with some good eats. Our attention caught on the aire acondicinado sign of one restaurant. A man on a moto pulled up as we approached the entrance, a mammoth of a fish lashed to the back of his ride. We gaped. I asked if I could take a photo. The man told us the fish weighed 30 kilos. That the 45 day long ban on surubi fishing starts next week, so this is one of the last before the mandatory let-the-fish-breed-and-repopulate break. We sat down in the restaurant and ate a piece of the fish that was caught before this one was carried into the kitchen, breaded, fried, with lemon, and cold beer.