The right angle


Two coffee and two glasses of red wine yesterday, today two coffee and up until now three glasses of vino tinto. With every drink, I get a complimentary plate of pintxo's. Probably to make one last longer and order some more. With the prices here in Gijón I'll be sure to do so. I won't have to pay more than five or six euro for what I just consumed.

I'm in a bar called La Consentida in one of the poorer parts in town, trying hard to come up with an article good enough to sell to a magazine and earn some money. Walking on worn boots for a full month, my battery was completely empty around the time of my birthday. I have taken some time off and I feel my creative power, if I may call it that, coming back to me. Still, the writing doesn't come easy.

The surroundings are inspiring enough, to be sure. La Consentida wouldn't do bad in a Star Wars movie. The guests are a muppet show of colorful characters and I wouldn't be surprised if some famous singer or actor dropped in to complete the program. I can picture them all singing and moving their heads to the music, while at the other end of the street two Spanish Waldorf and Statler´s would stick their heads out from one of the balconies to mock the whole scene. Not that I would understand them, because the Asturian dialect is anything but comprehensible. Outside a woman passes, with the facial features of Jabba the Hut. Body too. Didn't understand a word of what he was saying in the movie, but at least there were subtitles. They don´t do subtitles in Spain, only dubbing. Were the Huts an Iberian tribe? Was Jabba Asturian?

The bar is situated on the corner of a not too busy shopping street and I am seated at the long end, next to a large window that gives me full sight of the crossing. Every now and then a car stops, flicks on it's alarm lights and spits out the driver, who leaves it parked on the middle of the crosswalk. More than enough parking spots, clearly marked with yellow lining, but to the Spaniards these are no more than a suggestion, any place on the asphalt will do.

Straight across the room, at another table next to the window sits a woman, talking to a man opposite but diagonally to her. I hope he chose his spot purposefully to comfort her, because the woman is looking at him with her left eye, while the right one is fixed continuously on me. In that case her left eye must be the good one. An alternative, yet more discomforting explanation would be that she chose to sit diagonally to him, that her right eye is the good one and that she is literally keeping an eye on me. I mean, how can you tell? Does she even have a good and a bad one? Or does she have fly vision, with eyes like surveillance camera's, each recording another corner of the room?

I decide to ignore her. I'm here to write, damn it! I stare back at the blank page on my computer screen. So pure, so perfect. What can I possibly write that adds to this immaculate collection of pixel white perfection? Think about who you are writing for! Limit yourself to a particular situation or experience! Nothing comes up. I still feel that evil eye piercing through me as if she is trying to read my mind. I need what she has, an angle.

I look out the window because a bus is honking repeatedly at an empty car on the zebra. It can't make the turn. Some old people waiting on the curbs to cross the street start to panic. Now there is not only a car to get around, but also a bus. A walking green pedestrian turns to red, and to green and back to red again. No one sees it, because the bus is blocking the view. A few minutes later a woman bouncing with shopping bags walks up to the car and gets in to relieve everyone from their frustration. No excuse me's or sorry´s of course, just a quick wave to the bus driver as she steers her car from the cross way. Maybe I should go and find another bar. This, and me, are not working.

Wijnand Boon