Anyone who’s spent even the smallest amount of time in Spain will know that the floors are very unforgiving. Carpets are unheard of and everything is beautifully tiled. It looks great, but isn’t so wonderful if you are a complete butter-fingers like me. I have lost count of the amount of crockery and glasses I’ve smashed to smithereens just by being mal-coordinated. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that we celebrate when I drop something and find that it bounces!
Now, dropping things in your own home will probably earn you disapproval or (usually in my case) laughter from those nearest and dearest to you. Stupidity and awkwardness are things that we Brits find hilarious. If you are injured or humiliated in such instances, then quite frankly it only adds to people’s amusement. It’s slapstick on it’s most basic level and we just love it. The Spanish? Not so much.
Case in point; an ordinary Saturday morning trip to Mercadona (Spanish supermarket) with my friend. I know! How exciting and cosmopolitan are we? It gets better.
After a nice morning of traipsing round haberdashery and todo shops, Mrs B and I brave the madness that is Mercadona on a Saturday. (We are not completely insane – we don’t normally food shop on a Saturday, but we were in town so….) As is to be expected, it is completely rammed. Not with shoppers it seems, but with locals who think nothing of congregating in the aisles to chat and generally using the supermarket as a social club. After a half hour supermarket-challenge-esque run round the shop we make it to the checkout with our overflowing trolley. We’re in luck and find a queue with only one (obviously English) chap and his mammoth booze purchase in front of us.
When the alky in front of us has got his off licence packed up, I start loading the conveyor belt with my goodies. On goes the beer, bottles of pop and other heavy things. I am just putting the last bottle of coke on the belt, when “oh my god,” I realize I haven’t picked it up as securely as I thought I had. The bottle starts heading towards that ominous looking tiled floor so I make a grab for it. For what seems like an eternity I look like some sort of circus performer. There I am touching the bottle and bouncing it around between by hands but never quite managing to get a decent hold on it. Inevitably, I fail miserably in my juggling/catching attempt and the bottle plummets to the floor.
I have enough time to glance over at Mrs B, who is waiting patiently behind me with her basket and think to myself, “I’ll have to remember not to open that for a few days,” before moving to pick the bottle up. In the split second it takes me to think about bending down THE BOTTLE EXPLODED! I kid you not. It’s like a bomb had gone off. It made a huge bang and splatteed coke literally everywhere. Mrs B and I both gasp and then fall about laughing.
Whilst still giggling to ourselves and trying to cover my chagrin I realise that apart from the fact I dropped the coke and it exploded everywhere, something else is very wrong with this situation.
Apart from our inane giggling, the entire shop (and possibly the world) is in complete silence. No sniggering, no tutting, no outrage, not even mild amusement. Total silence and complete non reactions on the faces of customers and staff a like. It is possibly the most surreal thing I’ve ever seen. I apologise to the check-out girl and she doesn’t even acknowledge that I’ve spoken.
Meanwhile coke was still dripping from the walls, the side of the check-out, my trolley plus the rest of my shopping, the impulse buy products around the till and the fresh bread oh so beautifully displayed at the end of the aisle. We check ourselves and discover that I’m soaked from the knees down and Mrs B looks like she’s had a fight with a water pistol. The cleaner arrives with a mop, takes one look at the devastation and leaves. We presume she’s decided a mop just won’t cut it. We stifle more laughs.
I have never packed shopping so quickly. In fact, the speed I’m going, you would have sworn I’ve stolen it. Mrs B and I make a dash for the lift. We load in our soggy trolley in and glance back at the shop as the door is closing. The shop is still in silence and for some reason, despite how busy the shop is, no one is queuing at our checkout.
The doors close and we hoot with laughter again.
Note to self: you can’t juggle coke bottles and slapstick comedy doesn’t go down well over here.