Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A sweaty Englishman


Ten years ago on a Spanish holiday, after several hours lying on a lounger under the fierce Mediterranean sun, it seemed timely to replenish my bottled water supplies. Clad only in boxer shorts and well worn flip-flops, and deploying my metronomic, energy efficient, stride pattern (head down, elbows out, short steps, shuffling gait), I soon arrived at the entrance to the small, local supermarket.

Aware of the lack of air-conditioning in this establishment, I darted towards the drinks section and soon located the hefty multi-pack of eight 1-litre bottles of water. As I headed for the check out, the stifling heat impacted upon my senses, distorting my vision and producing a soft whistling sound in my ears. Mercifully, the queue at check out was short.

The supermarket owner’s decision to bake their own baguettes in-house no doubt seemed like a winner at the time. The smell of freshly made bread at the check out was clearly meant to entice customers into an additional purchase. Presumably not considered was the impact of having a large, working stainless-steel oven positioned next to the cash till and within touching distance of shoppers waiting to pay for their goods in a non air-conditioned premise in southern Spain.

While standing in the queue, with my 8-pack clasped under my arm, the polythene wrapping accelerated my rate of perspiration. Sweat flowed in rivulets through clumps of grey chest hair and, upon reaching the imposing gut region, combined with viscous slithers of Ambre Solaire to form an alluring milk-like substance. Further south more watery, faster moving trickles could be detected as they intermittently darted into my darker recesses. Meanwhile, my already sun-charred skin was being braised by the heat from the oven.

Worse still, the queue at the check out did not seem to be moving. The obstruction was another Englishman, his two children by his side, unloading the numerous contents of his trolley. Clearly one of the few holiday-makers for whom the renting of an apartment really did mean self-catering, he was completing his weekly shop. Pale skinned and all three clad in white t-shirts and matching peaked caps, it was evident that they had sensibly evaded the sun for the duration of their stay. As his last item (a box of bran-flakes) was registered by the senorita at the cash till, there was an audible ripple of relief from the fleshy, and increasingly sweaty, masses queuing behind him.

Relief reverted to dismay when dad turned to his children and asked, “Don’t those baguettes smell lovely; shall we get some for our tea Benjamin?” Recognising that it is good parenting to actively involve one’s offspring in the decision making process, he followed up with, "Should we get four large ones or half a dozen of the small?”

Expectantly, the senorita had by this time opened the hefty oven door and, with metal tongs at the ready, was awaiting further instruction. Consequently, a wall of hot air assaulted my senses. My fluid loss was such that, despite having eight litres clasped in my hand, I was in danger of experiencing a net loss since stepping over the threshold. Feeling on the point of collapse, my poached brain tried to fathom whether it would be less embarrassing to collapse there on the floor at the feet of Mr. Sensible or to stagger to the exit and fall at the roadside. Vivid kaleidoscopic images intruded of my falling somewhere between the two options, pulling over the rack of inflatable pool accessories on the way down, and lying helplessly on my back in an oily puddle surrounded by stray flip-flops and a blow-up Dalmatian.

Movement of the queue returned my attention to the present. Baguettes finally dispensed, I quickly paid for my water and escaped onto the street outside and into the relative cool of the direct Spanish sunlight. Numbness radiated along my right arm, under which was firmly embedded my plastic coated 8-pack which by now felt as if it had fused into my skin and muscle. I squatted for a few moments in an effort to restore my usual poise, pedestrians having to swerve to avoid me.

Balance soon restored, I stood up and (with head down, elbows out, short steps, shuffling gait) set off on the return journey to my apartment complex. Having stored the bottled water in my fridge, and with paperback in hand, I returned to my poolside sun lounger.







21 comments:

  1. I think I could have lived a long and healthy life without that description of sweat running down your chest.

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    1. Yes, sorry about the lurid detail, Joe.

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  2. I've lost precious body fluids just reading your post, but the humor was worth it.

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    1. As always, Stephen, I appreciate your interest and support.

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  3. I recognize a good, long hot flash when see one, or hear one described.

    Nice recovery when you exited.

    Another good laugh!

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Anita. I guess ladies of a certain age know all about hot flushes - but you look much too young.

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    2. Yes,we do. lol And I'll take the "young" comment as a compliment. :)

      RYN on my post: Your children are mature and sensible. Good job raising them.

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  4. Oh boy-oh, that's quite the imagery. But, good work on the narrow escape. Perhaps you distracted yourself long enough deciding where to pass out that your body didn't have a chance to fully register the amount of lost liquid.

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    1. You could be right, Chiz.

      But I tell you what, the experience has put me off baguettes for life!

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  5. Mr. Sensible sounded positively aggravating! Was he playing the part of the American, then?

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    1. This comment made me laugh out loud. Ha!

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  6. I wish he was, Al, But Mr. Sensible was definitely English. But then again, perhaps he was really a Yank putting on an English accent?

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  7. Oh, you always make me laugh! I have tears! So funny the way you describe this.

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    1. I'm so glad it amused you. Thanks, as always, for your interest.

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  8. That was, hands down, the most poetic retelling of a man sweating in a super market.

    I look forward to the next chapter in the saga, where you describe, in detail, your heat-induced migrane. I'm not being cheeky, I actually would read the hell out of that story if you continue to write this way!

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    1. I appreciate your generous comments.

      Thankfully, I don't suffer with migraines, so it would have to be heat-induced something else - maybe embarrassing rashes?

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    1. Damn you! You said the same thing TO ME! Do I not matter anymore?! Now you show your true colours. You can have this blog, I don't want you anymore JIMI MUNI!

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    2. He's a little two-timer, Daniel. Such promiscuity. I really don't think we should let a slapper like this get in the way of our friendship!

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  10. Perhaps you should have added buying a few pints after all of that - so you could get back to the beach and drink away the memory of it all! That chap really was brain dead no? Nothing like involving the young ones on a decision like that when a fellow country man is in line behind him dehydrating before his eyes!
    Hilarious post Mr. Jones!

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  11. If I recall correctly,a few bottles of San Miguel were imbibed that evening.

    Thanks, as always, for your support and interest.

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