Jorge Gili Ruiz
I am happy. And not only because the Spanish team wins games by a landslide, I leave such mundane and vulgar things to the troubled masses who only remember their homeland and flag when someone dressed in red scores a goal, and then they jump up, wave the red and yellow flag, run into a fountain to take a bath amongst crowds and celebrate rejoicing for something that the next day will cost them a hangover, sleep and no profit, nothing to do with the one who actually scored the goal, who will surely put in his pocket something more than the poor fellow who celebrated it in front of the TV or in that fountain.
No, I’m happy because after all we have here, which is no small thing as you well know, I like this country, its way of life, its particular way of facing common problems, its unique interpretation of what life should be, good clear life. And that, however critical one wants to be, it is contagious. That nobody is made of stone, and less a follower.
Each culture has its rites, each religion its temple and each Spaniard his favourite bar where to raise the spirit, to advocate for his faith in any of its versions (politics, football, economics, musical taste, etc.). It is for this reason that they are like an open city in which each one exposes his points of view until another parishioner makes them angry and things get risky, with chances of seeing chairs fly and the waiter dialling 091. Fortunately, that happens less often, solving the adversity with a couple of shouts, several veiled threats, mentioning the cheated father of each contestant and things like that, to the astonishment / rejoicing of the staff, who only needs to take out the popcorn and enjoy the show without loosening an extra shilling.
Another memorable thing is the beach show that year after year happens on our envied coastlines. I am convinced that the foreign tourists who come to what they are sold as a quiet and paradisiacal beach, except for the feared hooligans, must be astonished at the rows of some people over when to put up the umbrella, and not just the umbrella, some install a complete military camp. And of course, you already begin to smell the whiff of the row in the form of comments from the improvised neighbours of sand and lounger. You only need to see the early riser patriarch of the clan loaded with several umbrellas, chairs, folding tables, refrigerator, etc. / we should acknowledge what art they have to carry all that without breaking down /, begin to place everything by gaining square meters of sand, and face like a numbed man when he sees the SPQR of Rome when the surrounding staff reproaches him for not leaving something for others and to be content with a little corner. Well, no. He confronts, huffs, gesticulates, and even asks the other’s documents to prove that the parcel he claims is his. A whole show. And the best thing is to contemplate it from the nearby open air bar, another variety of our beloved temples, with a coffee and looking at the watch, as if to see how long the party will last. Tell me where in the world you can enjoy so much show without having to pay the cultural VAT.
But not everything is leisure and recreation. Unfortunately, there is the one who had to go to the funeral home to say goodbye to an acquaintance, friend or simply for courtesy to the family without personally knowing the deceased in question. In these last situations, it is admirable to see the art of not being disturbed by some of the many that are over there. They approach the relative for whom he has made an appearance and, without saying a word, shrugs his shoulders, tilts his head, raises his eyebrows and, with a couple, a long hug for the other to interpret his taste the peculiar gesture. Interpretation that the same means the traditional “I accompany you in the feeling” or the less orthodox “finally you got rid of him”, or her. Instead of opening one’s mouth and look bad, one prefers to leave everything in the air. Memorable this type of person, yes.
Let’s not stray. Despite everything that affects us, I’m still happy to live in this country. Being able to walk in the streets of any city or in the countryside, with so much offer of leisure and entertainment until the early hours or more, with so many people in the street looking for the same thing as you and me: have fun and get abstracted from the many problems that surround us: crisis, unemployment, gender violence, tax increases, traffic accidents, political corruption, poor management of tax contributions, surgical waiting list, submerged economy with its enigmatic “B”, cities permanently under construction, endless traffic jams, inefficient and absurd prolongations of working hours, abusive prices in elementary (and vital) services and also in the not so elementary. But we do not care. While there is enough to have a beer and go a few days of vacation, or take a long weekend, we do not care what they do. We end up looking with commiseration at the unfortunate neighbour stricken by fatality and, at most, we try to live as if there are only two days. And Pepe’s problems, let Pepe solve them, so clever he thought he was. Hateful until the end, hear.
Maybe it’s because of the weather, the sun, the atmosphere that invites you to sit on a terrace when the afternoon has already fallen, or at the tapas in the pub, the restaurant that prepares the recipe you like so much, the variety of wines , beers, spirits, the desire of people to have a good time without remembering that there is the alarm (and the reality), the siesta, the sales. And its people. What to say about them. Here everyone knows everything. Everyone talks about what they know, and, also about what they do not know. With a vehemence that overwhelms, with a certainty about that which is said that anyone, except another rooster, dares to put a comma here or there. I cannot understand how they do not merit a prize or honourable mention in their curriculum for their knowledge and contribution to the construction of the system, how they have not been appointed ministers, although some have become one of the hundreds of counsellors with which they tend to surround themselves to break my pocket, and yours..
But here we continue. Everyone happy. Getting by little by little to maintain coexistence by importing us a damn what happens to the next one as long as it does not affect yourself fully, and that from time to time some president is stubborn in opening the trunk of memories with laws of historical memory that all they do is stir up and exalt a little staff with issues that should have been closed at least forty-odd years ago and that the new generations, that is, our future, care rather little, or nothing about. Or others who come up with the idea of declaring dependent independence uprising the mass to hide the scams, millions in tax havens adducing questionable historical rights that in the worst case happened to accept the monarchy of the Habsburgs in the figure of Archduke Charles as monarch of all the Spanish territory, including them, that for that was, and is, Spain.
But none of that affects our peculiar sense of good living. And in the end I firmly believe that this good living, despite everything, is what millions of foreign tourists perceive year after year, whom we continue to receive in this country, and as far as the statistics say come more every year. For something they come, because they are not stupid. Foreign yes, but fools not at all. And if they also leave big sums of money, without getting ripped off by some scoundrel, well welcome. However, the hooligans should better do balconing at Buckingham Palace, with an inflatable pool underneath if necessary.
That’s why I’m happy, because despite everything, it’s nice to live here. And nobody dare take this away from us.
Jorge Gili Ruiz was born in Madrid in 1970. His passion for journalism and literature has led him to write many articles on current topics. He is currently working on his second novel.