164 – I Want To Tell You

Lot of time has passed since I last published something, so I am as behind on content as ever, and many things happened in the meanwhile. I’ll probably get to writing about them at some point before Christmas. More importantly, I had some serious soul-searching to do since the last article. When I jokingly pointed out that that particular rant was going to cost me a couple of local friendships, I had no idea it was going to cost me so much more.

Sunset over Gredos from Plasencia city walls

To my excuse, I was writing in a fit of rage. Parenthesis: My friends say that I am more fun when I’m single. I suppose they mean that I have better stories to tell when I am frustrated by obnoxious behaviour of several men as opposed to only one. I disagree. One man can do as good a job as half of Tinder. About the fit of rage. I had just violently wrapped up an episode that had lasted several month and classifies as a thorough failure of judgement on my side, at the end of which the individual in question had the good taste to call me “puta Checa de mierda” (loosely translates as “fucking Czech whore”). This appellation wasn’t referring to my perceived infidelity (he had no reason to, I was giving monogamy my best shot at the time, but it would be unacceptable regardless), it was sexist and racist (or however you want to call it when you use someone’s nationality as an insult), and it triggered – in my opinion – a perfectly measured and reasonable reaction. I grabbed him by the throat, pinned him against the wall, asked him to kindly repeat what he just said (maybe not quite with these words or composure) and when he violently pushed me away, I slapped him on the face. Hard. Then I stormed out of the place. Did I mention that it happened in a crowded bar in Chueca? Chances are someone recorded it. 

Now, I am obviously not proud of turning to violence (my Serbian ancestors possibly would be). I hate it when I lose control over my emotions. But God knows he had it coming. He claims I broke his heart. He should be grateful I demonstrated enough self-restraint by not closing the fist and breaking his nose. So imagine the state of me: infuriated, fuming and way too sober (because all this happened before I even had a chance to finish my martini). I arrived home and thought it would be a fantastic idea to unleash my righteous wrath on the blog and deal with everything I disliked about the man: his right-wing views, his privilege, his ignorant pride, his bigotry, his blind nationalism. You may ask why had I ever dated him. I don’t know, I cannot explain it to myself. I don’t even know why I agreed to see him that night when he wanted to talk. I was aware that any talking would be pointless, but I wanted to give him (again) a closure in case he needed one. Because it’s the civilized thing to do. It didn’t go quite as planned. 

I had also recently witnessed a racist slur towards a good friend of mine and am still appalled by how the authorities refused to handle it. I will not provide any further detail, because it is not my story to tell. But the frustration of the incident prevented me from writing with lucidity.

Hence I converted my rage into venom about sensitive topics that would be best left to private conversation, and for this I am deeply sorry. I was writing as if I was mocking everything the above-mentioned individual (and the likes I am surrounded by in my office) stands for, and I didn’t realize that in the process I could also insult people whose opinion I actually care about. It was never my intention to offend or to be personal. OK, I was obviously being personal to a very specific type of Spaniards, but I should have known better, I should have controlled myself, I should not have let my anger get the better of me, and I should have taken a deep breath and think before acting for once. I should have considered the feelings of people I love and respect, and I should have valued them over my fleeting urge to insult a couple of idiots (who would never find out in the first place, because they would never read anything longer than Santiago Abascal’s tweet, let alone in English). If I really wanted to tackle those arguments publicly, I should have offered a less superficial view and considered a more tactful wording. I always weight my words and am perhaps overly woke when it comes to racial, sexual or gender issues, and I failed to accomplish the same when talking about nationality and national history of a country that is not my own. For this, I sincerely apologise. 

Nonetheless, I will not delete the previous post. I believe that whenever a change of heart takes place, it is important to acknowledge the mistake, to distance oneself from the past views and make it clear that we no longer hold them, but deleting every trace and pretending the harm never happened is not helpful. People change, the opinions change, societies evolve. Sometimes. Same as taking Gone With The Wind off the streaming platforms is a nonsense, taking the post in question off the blog would be useless. Not that I am trying to compare my blog to one of the most loved film of all times. What can and perhaps should be done is to provide controversial content with some sort of disclaimer, which is what I am going to do. What’s done is done. If ignored, it will come back to haunt us, eventually. More importantly, the people I offended will remember regardless the article being online or not, so I can only hope they will accept my apology. And I truly do. 

I guess that once I wandered into this rabbit hole, I should set straight some of the things I said on this blog. 

  • My professional circle does not represent the best of Spain. Far from it. I know this, I am perfectly aware that the dislike is mutual, and I don’t really need to be accepted by people who’s opinions I despise. It is perfectly OK to despise an opinion, if the opinion if along the lines of “Donald Trump says things as they are” or “People who vote left are too stupid to understand what they vote for”. That every opinion deserves respect is a fallacy. It should be expressed without facing jail, but  respect is a completely different matter. I sometimes use this blog to vent my frustration with people I am surrounded by and the social class they represent, which I believe is responsible for many things that are wrong in in this country, and I am sorry if it sometimes looks like I dislike all of Spain. Quite the opposite.
  • I do not think, however, that being a foreigner disqualifies me from commenting on Spanish politics and I will continue doing so. I will do my best to pick my words carefully with sensitive topics.  
  • I do not dislike Spanish food. If it ever seemed like I was being spiteful about the local food, it should not be taken at face value. I can be a nasty little shit stirrer at times, but I don’t mean that. I am not a big fan of croquetas, and I prefer sweeter types of cured hams, but that is my personal preference. I also prefer the hearty inland dishes to what is generally perceived as Spanish cuisine abroad, but again, that’s just me. I love quality of seafood, fish, meat and vegetables, the seasonality and regional variety of products. Spain obviously produces excellent olive oil and wine. If I ever take the piss, then I take it out of the rivalry and resentment that the Spainsh feel against Italy and to some extent France, because it is really not necessary. Come on, I come from a country where cows die of old age before we eat them, which is why we need to stew the dear life out of everything to make it edible. If there isn’t a dozen of Czech restaurants in every city in the world, it’s for a reason. You are all great to me. And if I cook Italian and not Spanish, that is because I lack the confidence to offer something Spanish to my local friends. 
  • I love that you can share most of the food. I love that when I go out for dinner with my friends, we can share four starters and the waiter doesn’t look at us like we should stay at home if we don’t want to take the whole menu (which is not the case in Italy, France or the UK).
  • I still think that Almudena is an architectural abomination, and I cannot bring myself to apologise for that statement. It’s not an insult to Spanishness, but an insult to good taste.

About the photos, in case you wandered here to learn about Plasencia. The trip happened in late November of the last year, I was making a weekend out of a fencing tournament and came a day earlier to do some tourist stuff. You will have to pardon me, but I don’t really have the strength right now to write anything cultural. Two things: don’t miss it and take the guided walking tour. It is less touristy than Caceres, but quite as pretty, it has super-interesting cathedral – actually cathedrals plural, as they are sort of two in one, which the guide will explain. Local specialties: all sorts of roasted baby animals, Torta del Casar cheese and excellent wines from Extremadura region. 

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