I went to Spain intending to make out with a Spanish dude.
My friend Beau recently got back from Europe. His trip was fueled, as far as I can tell, by mad, passionate sex parties. Basically rather than flying from one ancient medieval city to the next, the energy of his boner propelled him through space and time. A woman whose stand-up specials I have promoted in this very blog met her sig o while cavorting through Europe and they post pictures of their adorable intercontinental love regularly. I did not have such grand ambitions. I just wanted to make out with a Spanish dude.
My mom and I recently tromped through Norway and London together on a wonderful trip. As soon as the plane touched land, I updated my location and waited for messages from sexy Norwegian *menn, though obviously I wasn’t going to do anything about them. You don’t ditch your mom for a hookup.
*menn is Norwegian for men. Oceans divide our two peoples.
Fun fact: Norwegian menn say “Hei” instead of “Hey” in their first messages. Other than that, they seem to be identical to American men.
I wasn’t that into the idea of a Norwegian romance, anyway. I mean, try feeling like a ~spontaneous fling ~ might be fun when this is the weather.
In London a man calling himself “Shubbs” messaged me, but I was more into visiting London friends than his beefy biceps. Also I was still staying with my mom, and it would have been very cheeky indeed to leave her to see what Shubbs meant by:
Mmmmm that’s what I call a classy and pretty attractive woman, daymn [sic] jessica, you look amazingly hot and tasty
Hmm. When I think “hot and tasty” I think of fresh steamed dumplings. Also, “pretty attractive?” C’mon, Shubbs.
Mom and I said our huggy goodbyes, and I headed off to Spain. Finally. La vida loca. Los labios de un hombre español!
Only not quite yet, since the flight was delayed four hours and my leisurely first evening in Madrid turned into an excruciating midnight arrival. ¡Qué decepción! Exhausted and frustrated, muttering voodoo curses to the 40ish teens coming back from an exchange trip, I arrived in Madrid way behind schedule. I messaged with abandon. My Spanish abilities were being SEVERELY TESTED.
Sergio: Hola que tal? Hey, sup
Me: Hola Sergio. Guapo perro. Hi Sergio. Handsome dog.
Sergio: Muchas gracias Es Thor. Thanks. He’s Thor.
Me: Oh, es fuerte como un dio? Oh, he is strong like a god?
Sergio: Siiiiiii Yeaaaaaaaah
My game was obviously as strong in Spain as it was in the US. Why, then, the title of this blog? Why did Sergio and I not head up to the Templo de Debod and exchange sweet embraces and visa fantasies?
On my second night in Madrid, chats with Sergio and Luis going well, I sat down for dinner with what looked like an innocuous group of hostel types. The night’s “Spanish fare” was Thai noodles. All seemed well. It was too late by the time I realized that I had sat down in the middle of a thicket of… Australian backpacker bros.
I understand that I am prejudiced. I understand that this is unfair. However, I will say that based on my stays in guest houses and hostels in the USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Korea, a dream you once had, Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, a mysterious mountaintop, France, Germany, the center of the earth, England, Italy, the moon, and Switzerland, it is clear to me that Australian backpacker bros are insane. They want nothing more than to be drunk and to make all others drunk. They are loud, wacky, mostly lovable scamps, reliable upon the accent and regardless of age, income level, or *gender identity.
*Yes, chicks can be backpacker bros.
I had signed up for the pub crawl by this point (Australian backpackers will accept no other brethren than fellow pub crawlers) and we were all getting along smashingly. I noticed that Mike, a hulking, handsome Korean-Australian, was dominating the conversation the way young, confident men like to do. He seemed harmless at first, but his misogyny crept up every so often in the form of frequent “pussy!” accusations and yelling to his fellows to “take their tampons out” when they wouldn’t drink with him.
Me: Hey, can we cool it with the sexist stuff?
Mike: Oh yeah? You some kind of big feminist, huh?
Me: No, I’m just a person, and I don’t like that.
This encouraged Mike. He was a bit on the young side for the group, I was a bit on the older side. I could tell he wasn’t happy at being called out. I seethed at myself not owning the feminist label. It wasn’t much longer before Mike was gleefully telling a story about a woman he had taken back to his hostel room in France.
Mike: There was blood everywhere! No, she wasn’t on her period, man, she was a virgin! Yeah, check it out, I took pictures…
And there, right in the middle of a table of Thai noodles and glasses of sangria, Mike showed iPhone photos so disgusting, so disrespectful of this woman he’d slept with, so utterly reprehensible that I
can’t get into any more detail. They were probably even more explicit than you think.
No one else seemed to feel so disgusted, though. An American med student followed up with a story about screwing a girl in Ibiza in his shared dorm room, and his buddy laughed and reminded him that he’d also taken pictures. I simply shut up, walked over to some girls I had met earlier, and spoke Korean for the rest of the night. I hated everybody speaking English in that place.
After that, I gave up trying to meet someone in Spain. Not because I was put off romance by Mike and his story, or because I was so disappointed in the rest of us for listening and not condemning, or even because of some niggling fear that somewhere, in some context, I’m someone’s pathetic sex story. Not even because it’s just not that safe for a woman to meet a dude when she doesn’t know the area or speak the language perfectly.
I gave up on meeting someone because I remembered that I really don’t like most people.
Not exactly true. I’m sure most of those people, other than Mike, were fine. Without the bacchanalian drinking, maybe we all would have become friendly and gone to Toledo together the next day or something.
Yet, this incident reminded me that so, so, so many people are just one story away from disgusting me, or disappointing me, or simply boring me to death. I’m willing to put up with that in the States, when a lame date just means I’ve wasted a Netflix night. In Madrid, though, in beautiful Spain where I only had four days to experience as much as I could possibly wring out, I wasn’t willing to risk it. I wasn’t willing to risk meeting a Mike I had to get rid of when I only had the one chance to stare at Hieronymus Bosch paintings at the Prado Museum.
I might have missed out. Maybe Sergio and I could have held hands and walked through the Mercado de San Miguel together, though I saw a couple get in a fight over churros there. Maybe Juan and I could have smooched in the Real Jardín Botánico, though it was so blisteringly hot that my legs stuck to a rock. Maybe in some universe, some Jessica is all in love, FB chatting some guy in broken Spanish, planning when they can bring him over.
I make myself a pretty great travel companion, though.