Ya know how sometimes you find yourself walking around a beach town in southern Portugal taking pictures of man hole… covers because that is such a common thing to be doing and you’ve done it so much in so many towns that you really don’t think much about it even though now and then you notice someone walking by and they look down at the ground trying to discern what it is that could possibly be so photo worthy in the middle of the street then give you one of those looks that you get when you try to order dinner from a server whose english is worse than your español or your portuguese but mostly people will wisely opt to give you a wide berth while pulling their children closer because they don’t want to disturb the crazy man taking pictures of the man hole… covers but this day as you find a particularly interesting set of man hole… covers because they do seem to come in sets with similar character and color on a particularly quaint side street as you approach a subset of man hole… covers a very distinguished looking man is standing in the doorway of his little tienda in very close proximity to the man hole… covers you seek to capture and as you bend down toward the ground to frame the really interesting man hole… cover he speaks to you asking ‘are you from the city?’ and you stand upright look at him and notice he is also quite well dressed and now you’re just a little concerned that you seem to notice these things about strange men in foreign countries but you have no time for such concerns and as a response you exclaim with one index finger raised so as to punctuate your rejoinder ‘EL ARTE’ at which point the well-dressed good-looking stranger – really is it necessary to always mention the qualities of the strange men you meet? – replies ‘sure, it’s just that I have complained to city numerous times that the street here and these man hole… covers are in disrepair and need attention’ ‘but…’ you say ‘they sure do have a lot of character’ ‘and yes they do’ he agrees and before turning to leave you offer ‘ya know what I’m gonna do I’m gonna photograph all the man hole… covers and then march straight away to the city government place and make the case for fixing all the man hole… covers and you’re gonna see they will have to acquiesce’ and gosh isn’t acquiesce a funny word and you had to look that one up because it don’t spell right and so you continue to the distinguished-looking well-dressed man – will you stop it with the strange men in foreign countries – ‘your man hole… covers will be stripped of all of their character and look like new before you can say ‘shouldn’t someone be arresting the guy with the camera?’’ and so you wave and smile at the extraordinarily average looking guy – better – and he waves and smiles back and as you turn to go you can feel his gaze upon you and and imagine he’s thinking ‘I’ve really got to stop talking to strange people’ and most likely he will close his little tienda and head straight to the tattoo place and get a tattoo on his arm that says ‘I am certain of nothing’ just like anthony bourdain and gosh isn’t he missed but now you are in possession of the perfect retort whenever someone asks ‘hey what are doing there photographing man hole… covers?’ and you simply and confidently quip ‘I work for the city and your man hole… covers are our highest priority’ and now you find yourself in an area with quite a few restaurants with outdoor seating but, hey, you go where the man hole… covers are because the man hole… covers ain’t coming to you so as you continue your expedition you feel the gaze of a thousand eyes upon you and imagine a young child asking ‘mommy daddy why is that man so interested in man hole… covers’ at which point the mommy and daddy quickly cover the little brats pie hole and wow that’s a little harsh because you have no idea if that little child is a brat at all and suddenly one of the guys whose job it is to stand out front of the outdoor seating area and convince hungry pedestrians that his restaurant is clearly the best one for you to satisfy your appetite and that is not fair at all because if you don’t eat there after his pleas to make you do so then he might take it personally and think your saying ‘look pal your place just isn’t for us see and I don’t like you or your filthy little establishment so back off’ and to make it worse if you end up eating at a place nearby and he sees you duck in then he might take it personally and think your saying ‘look pal this is the place for us see it’s got everything we need and want in a restaurant it’s the bee’s knees see’ and what the hell does bee’s knees mean anyway and why are you talking like a prohibition era mob boss and as an aside when you look up bee’s knees you discover that was the name of a prohibition era drink and now it all makes sense so this ‘convince hungry pedestrians’ guy approaches you curious as to what you’re doing and again with the ‘one index finger raised so as to punctuate your rejoinder ‘EL ARTE’ and there’s that awkward moment of silence so you decide to show the gentleman an example of one of your man hole… cover works on your phone but it’s really sunny and hard to see anything on the phone so now you are both wiggling and turning and twisting so as to get the best viewing angle of an example of your man hole… cover art and when you finally do he takes a look at the phone then looks at you and your smiling proudly and he looks at the phone again then back at you still smiling proudly and you say ‘que bonito los man hole… covers sí?’ and after another more awkward silence you give a pat on the shoulder and turn to go because there are a lot of man hole… covers out there just waiting to be captured and you’re just the man hole… to do it. Good times. Good, good times.
Leave a Reply