I have never been good with women. On the whole I put this down to the fact that, deep down, I am a bit of a prick, and unashamedly so. Anyway this lingering sense of self pity and general malaise combines into a fairly pungent cocktail of ill luck with the opposite sex.
Tourism throws up some interesting conundrums as people, liberated temporarily from the drudgery of work and life seek to cram as much “experience” into the time they are contractually obliged not to work. Thus they try to do literally everything that any given place has to offer. Using a Londoner as an example, this can include spending a day going around the Louvre even though they have never visited the British Museum or the Tate, or wandering around the centre of a town eating ice cream on an open top bus. Of course, when office life resumes, they have lived to tell their tale and can recommend the boring sequence of guide-book experience to their mates, those who still have annual holiday remaining.
It seems bizarre to travel hundreds, maybe thousands of miles and do a bunch of things that you would never do at home. Now this is not as narrow minded as you may think. Of course you can’t see the Grand Canyon in Swindon and Huddersfield simply doesn’t have a decent dinosaur museum, but this all came to a head as I went round a museum of ecclesiastical architecture in Oaxaca, Mexico. As I saw the umpteenth triptych of Jesus plus entourage it suddenly struck me, I was bored. This shouldn’t have been a surprise really.
So what to do? The human species is characterised by its unique development of what we call interests, the likes and dislikes that keep us from chasing sticks or pieces of string. So what did I like? This is a question the tourist should ask themselves before any potential activity. The answer was quite quick. I like drinking and going to parks. As an aside I also like “the age of sail” but Oaxaca isn’t near the sea. Noting that my current environs contained both lager and green spaces I set out to do what I’ve done thousands of times before. Drinking on a park bench.
Travelling is a fantastic way to note the similarities and differences between cultures. As I cracked into an ambient temperature Corona, I watched an American family being approached by a street vendor, trying to peddle some Mayan shit vintage of the “madeinchina” peoples who lived in these valleys around 2015, AD. Having no clue what to do when “no” wasn’t taken at first hand, they panicked and hustled off after buying Beijing’s finest. I sipped my can. The hawker shuffled round the benches, working the tourists like a pro. I could have relocated, but it was a great spot and I still had some can. As he came to my bench I made ready with a pre prepared drivel to stave him off. He saw me, my clothes, my can and my bench and then walked over to the next bench without a word. Cultural assimilation had been achieved, sort of.
Back to women. It became clear at this point that if a down-at-the-heel Mexican street vendor isn’t going to give you the time of day then who would? I pondered this as I watched legions of nubile, tanned and gorgeous Mexican women walk by. I sipped my can. Who would indeed?
The answer to this question came sooner than I thought as from the peripheral vision afforded to me by my beverage, someone came to sit beside me. I must stress that there were loads of benches so clearly this individual had chosen my side as a prime location. I wasn’t expecting J-Lo as I turned to introduce myself, but I really wish it hadn’t been a man, and not just any man, an overweight and sweaty fellow clutching a sizeable caché of what looked like various types of prescription medication.
Before I had the chance to think about the state of my existence the chap introduced himself, in a fairly strange way.
“Are you married American?”
I had expected to be levied the meds so this was a fairly left field question. Taken aback I answered the part that seemed the most pertinent and assured him of my Caledonian heritage. I should add that this conversation had taken place in Spanish, and he seeing my English book asked if I spoke English too. It seemed beyond pointless to explain the roots of the English language in Scotland to some bloke with a load of pills on a park bench in Mexico, so I said yes.
I tried to start reading again but I was fully aware of how these situations pan out, having been privy to the sharp end of them more times than I have been on dates. Assuming I was not happily wedded my new friend took the initiative.
“Do you like oral sex?”
Not that I didn’t, but fearing that the next sentence was going to be the proprietary offer from this chap I decided it was time to leave. I turned and looked into his beady, excited eyes and left before he could spit at me when he gauged my response.
This experience represents the furthest that my love life has progressed since arriving in this wonderful nation, not to mention a long time before. One would hope that things will get a bit better after the bar has been set quite so low, but my track record begs to differ.
In hindsight I guess I could have asked him who would have been the beneficiary of his suggestion.
Well, there’s always next time.
Want to read more of Laurence’s take on the world? You can read them all here