This morning, as I was walking home, at the far end of the street the most amazing cloud of smog I've ever seen caught my attention. It didn't rise and dissolve itself in the atmosphere but instead seemed to be revolving madly upon itself, as if it were inside an invisible giant blender. Curiosity piqued, I kept walking towards it, thoughts absorbed in examining the details of this bizarre atmospheric phenomenon.
The cloud was just a few feet above the ground but it was far too small and incongruous to be a tornado; besides, the weather was fine, no gusts of wind nor storm clouds in sight, just balmy tropical sunshine. As chance would have it, the said cloud was right in my path so I decided to check it out at a closer distance.
At that particular moment some guy across the street, stepping out from a house gave me a piropo. How insufferable, a piropo, reflection of the latino macho ego which wholly pervades the colombian society, consists of any given sexual proposal or innuendo verbally expressed to random women in the street. It's commonly accompanied by a characteristic whistle and uncommonly accompanied by a spank, a friendly spank. The woman who receives the piropo is expected to give no response whatsoever of course; it wouldn't be ladylike. (In the rare case of a spank a "hey!" is considered acceptable retort).
Living in downtown Bogotá saying that piropos are frequent is an understatement. After a few years a woman doesn't really listen to them anymore. One hears them of course, but the information doesn't really get analyzed and understood by the brain. It's a clever emotional defense mechanism against continual verbal abuse.
This particular piropo, however, caught my attention as it was expressed at a higher volume than usual...did that guy just call me a "bee"? BEES! A giant swarm of bees was heading towards me! and I towards IT! Ladylike behavior be hanged! I ran across the street for dear life to escape imminent collision with the whirlwind of minute killer critters, past the guy at the door, past the door to a room.
I couldn't see at the moment, partly because it had been so bright outside and the man had quickly shut the door behind me, and partly because, as much as I hate to admit it to my normally rational self, I was utterly bewildered by what was currently happening. To add insult to injury I stumbled and fell with what I later learned to be a tailor's working table. Jesús, as was (properly or ironically depending on religious view-point) the name of my savior, had to give me a hand and raise me from a mess of multifarious measures of clothing fabric which had formerly been carefully arranged on top of his working table; all of which I had dragged to the floor with me in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the fall.
After I had given a dozen or more "thank you's" and "I'm sorry's", at which Jesus seemed more ashamed than I trying to assure me it was okay, he asked me to kneel on the floor. At my blatant refusal and expression of disbelief he explained, "let us pray and give thanks". I felt how my face burned with embarrassment as I told him, yet once more, how sorry I was for doubting of his good intentions.
Given that the guy had just probably saved my life, I felt it wasn't quite the appropriate moment to bring out the issue of me being an atheist so I just complied to his request, hoping Jesus the tailor wouldn't actually expect me to say any of the prayers out loud (I haven't prayed in more than a decade and at the moment I couldn't remember any prayers I might have known in the past). Fortunately, he interpreted my silence as shock at the unfortunate series of recent events I had just experienced and started reciting the Lord's Prayer, a prayer to St. Anthony, then the Ave Maria, followed by a Salve Regina, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and so on and so on... After a few minutes my knees began to hurt and my mind to wander, but I felt compelled not to rise until the catholic rant was over.
Almost unintentionally I began to mentally replace the words "god", "father", "son", "holy spirit" etc. with "Flying Spaghetti Monster". To my dismay, one of the prayers recalled the immaculate conception and birth of the son of god, at which I had a mental image of the Virgin Mary giving birth to an amorfous slop of thick tomato sauce-covered noodles with meatballs so I couldn't help but grimace and started to chuckle uncontrollably. It was Jesus' turn to look at me in shock, so I just did the first thing which came to mind which would avert the faux pas and covered my face with my hands and pretended I was crying.
Luckily, I've found men have a tendency to be easily convinced of the frailty and heightened emotional state of women and Jesus the tailor was no exception. Relieved at seeing me "cry" the bloke did his best to give me some reassurance, which included an uncalled-for embrace and phrases like "remember God loves you", at which I "cried" effusively.
A few uncomfortable minutes and a cup of some icky weed-like herbal infussion later, I was able to step out of Jesus the tailor's store unscathed and in high spirits, not without a final moment of awkwardness in which the fellow asked my number and I couldn't react in time to make out an excuse (my last bf was a fundie *shudder*). So I'm expecting him to call tomorrow...somehow I foresee how this budding relationship won't work out.