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.

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Comment by Suzanne on August 23, 2008 at 8:28pm
That story was hilarious. The piropos, the bee swarm, the Jesus boggles the mind.
Comment by David Potter on July 27, 2008 at 9:31am
For some unknown reason, there was a time when swarms of bees seemed attracted to my company truck. They would actually dip down from the sky, and - intentionally it seemed - head towards me. Since I have power windows, I quickly learned to roll them up when I saw the bees coming. Then I would just keep driving down the road, as their little corpses splattered on my windshield.

I enjoyed your story, by the way. :)))
Comment by Pengiko on July 24, 2008 at 2:46pm
I love your creativity! is there a way to know when people post in their blogs? As in receiving an email notification? I'm new to this, and I would love to know when you update your blog.
Comment by Laurie Hatton on July 18, 2008 at 11:54pm
That was a great story! I'm glad you shared!
Comment by DaVinci on July 18, 2008 at 4:49pm
Great story, but I bet you those were his bee's, ever seen A Boy And His Dog? Thanks for joining my little group.
Comment by Michaela on July 18, 2008 at 1:27pm
I love it :) A beautiful tale and very well written - it soon had me chuckling, and laughing by the end. I have to agree with Pandora, the image of the Virgin Mary giving birth to the Flying Spaghetti Monster was particularly vivid lol. I enjoyed this very much Rosa - I hope you will write some more - Tales from Bogota :)

Love, Michaela xox
Comment by Rosa on July 17, 2008 at 4:30pm
jajaja yo sé! Jesús el de la esquina, y encima sastre de barrio! :D

I love how one can always count on fellow latinos to have comic religious anecdotes to tell. :D
Comment by Madeline (Brigit) on July 17, 2008 at 4:14pm
I *hate* bees (and piropos as well)! Saved by Jesus el de la esquina, lol. Last times I had to pray it was my mom's fault. First she was constantly going to a santero catolico (go figure) and I had to keep a straight face while the guy smoked a cigar and played around with a pigeon in front of me in front of all the virgen and santos.
Later, before I got married (civil ceremony) they asked me to go to the lutheran church of my abuela with my fiance for some bs reason. Those women had my marriage blessed and basically married us in the church. We can't disrespect our parents and much less our abuelas, so we kept our mouths shut, but dammit if we could... respect goes both ways but apparently old-school mommas didn't get the memo.
Comment by Rosa on July 17, 2008 at 3:56pm
lol, that's not common at all thankfully. It's the first time in my life I see a swarm of bees and I hope it's the last. What's really weird is that it was at the downtown metropolitan area...where the hell did those bees came from? Maybe the mistery behind Colony Collapse Disorder is the colonies are migrating south (you know, to spend summer in Copacabana and Ipanema) , to Latinamerica where there are no records of them been kept. ;)
Comment by Brian on July 17, 2008 at 2:39pm
What a story!!!
So do roving bands of bandito bees typically bother beautiful bonitas?

Do they prey upon persons who push prayers on perplexed people?



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