I’m taking a short break from fun photos and narrating my trip to share a story with you – one that I still kind of can’t believe happened. Let me preface this story with a disclaimer: I’m blind, I’m a moron, and this was staring me in the face but I’m too naïve (stupid?) to call a spade a spade sometimes.
When I first impulsively decided that I wanted to go to Spain, I mentioned it to a friend. We’ll call him FA, and no, that does not stand for Fernando Alonso. Swoon. If only.
FA told me he wanted to tag along, and he somehow ended up planning an entire European vacation (with stopoffs in Germany and Switzerland, and the main week in Madrid) around my week-long excursion. While I thought this was sort of odd, I figured OK, whatever, he’s been there before, I haven’t, he’ll know what to do and where to go and what to see.
I wanted to go on this trip as a solo adventure – to make peace with the giant changes in my life, and to see if I could be OK on my own in a place where I knew no one, or where anything was, and could barely communicate with the locals. My very own Eat, Pray, Love, if you will (not that I have read that book….) So when FA started planning things – dinners, bull fights, soccer matches – I put a hard stop on the whole thing. I told him I’d be happy to meet up for dinner when he got in, but this really had to be a solo trip. He totally understood, of course, and somehow that week-long trip to Madrid was shortened to Wed-Fri. Phew! Crisis averted!….or so I thought.
On Wednesday night, he arrived and we had dinner at a place that I had passed in the main square, and was one of the few restaurants in my area on Yelp that was reviewed in English. He’s obsessed with octopus, so we had a few tapas and a bottle of wine. I don’t eat much, but it certainly wasn’t enough food, since I can only do so much octopus in one night. But it was then that I began to realize many of his stories were….exaggerated.
FA and I have been loose friends for five years or so. In that time, he’s regaled me with tales of being a driver for Ferrari and Porsche, of being a Saudi prince’s roommate at NYU, and drinking till he couldn’t stand, and diving off the coast with Somali pirates. It all sounds very crazy and wild, and fun.
But as the night progressed, I realized…Ferrari driver? He hasn’t driven FOR Ferrari…he might have driven A Ferrari….If you want to stretch it, I have been a Ferrari driver. As in I’ve driven one. Once. For 5 minutes. And for the low cost of $300, you can too. When I downed nearly the whole bottle of wine myself (I always knew I was supposed to be European), I realized that his tales of drinking were a bit farfetched, since he was getting drunk off 1.5 glasses. And when he called NYU an Ivyleague school, I realize he had no freaking clue what he was talking about.
When we headed to another bar, we began talking about troubles at home. He was aware of the purpose of my trip, but not of some of the health problems plaguing my family. Insensitivity and callousness led to tears, and when he insisted on walking me home, I refused, but he followed me anyway.
The next day, I had to head back to the Puerta del Sol area, and he asked if he could join me. I wanted to buy a coat, since it was still really freaking cold. He was 45 minutes late to meet me (but again, I’m the idiot for waiting), and upon walking to a store called Stradivarius, I purchased a trench coat, and he immediately commandeered my whole day, with trips to the San Miguel Marketplace, up to Salamanca/Chamberi to go to a Cheese Bar, to a sex shop (Long story…I’m a freaking moron, but to be fair, I thought it was a mochi store), and to another restaurant a bit west and north of the Puerta del Sol.
The next day I was in Toledo with Lady of the Cakes, which was the highlight of the trip, and when I got home that night (to Wi-Fi), I was greeted with text messages. The conversation is below (And my phone was still on EST):
When I returned, I told him I had walked over 12 miles.
He then told me he wanted a backup dinner, and there was novelty to the “oldest restaurant in the world.” He told me what they were called. I looked them up. I really wanted to go to the paella place, but definitely not with him. I told him instead I would be running errands at the Prado.
The conversation that followed was awkward and uncomfortable (and his grammar in the last line bothered me — I wouldn’t date a guy with poor grammar!), but I declined and told him I was not looking for dates, or a boyfriend, and really only wanted to remain as friends. He seemed to take it well, but continued to text me throughout the week, but after a few exchanges back in the States, it’s largely dropped off.
The moral of the story is that I’m an idiot, this guy nearly ruined my vacation, and the next time I go somewhere, I won’t be letting someone “tag along” unless they are expressly invited. And I’m getting better at reading signals, too. The more you know…