* Warning: there's bad language and swear words in two languages in this post. For those with delicate and refined sensibilities, perhaps you'll want to avert your eyes and skip this post.
Since I moved to Spain I have often fantasized about what it would be like to tell someone off on the metro who is being an asshole. The language barrier really inhibits me all the time. Joder (fuck), mierda (shit), gilipollas (stupid asshole), puta (slut), and cabrón (motherfucker) just don't flow off the tongue in a natural way for me. I'm always left eating my words and seething in silence. Only recently have I decided to allow myself to swear and make sarcastic remarks in English, just to let off some steam. I mutter things like, fuck, jesus fucking christ, what the fuck? and "sure, why don't you take your sweet fucking time" and "yup, in the middle of foot traffic is a really great fucking place to stop". Still, I haven't become so bitter as to push people out of my way like some other folks. These bullies will shove you, step on you, yell at you and in general be complete fuckwits. Because I don't speak enough Spanish to give them a coherent piece of my mind, I'm often left feeling frustrated and impotent.
Well on Wednesday I finally got my chance to speak up. I was coming home on a very crowded metro and when the doors opened at Lavapies station a lot of people were trying to get out. There was this British brute who grunted "move it" and began pushing behind me to get all of us out the door faster. As soon as I heard English, I went into instinct mode and so I turned around and said, "Will you stop fucking pushing?!" I could see my admonishment trigger a look of surprise at being called out in his mother tongue and then a flash of anger ignited in his blue eyes. His fleshy face reddened. "Then move faster!" he retorted, to which I replied, "We're moving as fast as we can!" He snorted and said, "Yeah right." So I shook my head and said, "You're a fucking twat!" as I walked off the metro carriage. He went ballistic behind me and began screaming, "Come say that to my face you cunt.." etc. But I kept on walking calmly away and I soon lost him in the crowd. He was freaking out so much, people turned around to look to see what was happening! The Bulldog was bellowing out in what sounded like a battle cry. "Arrrggghhh!!" Que fuerte! My heart thumped hard in my chest as visions of him chasing me down and beating on me crossed my mind but I shook that fear off and kept on walking up the escalators, out the door and into the lively, people filled streets of my barrio.
The thing is, if it had been a Spanish gilipollas or even a Morrocan cabrón, I wouldn't have worried that he'd get violent on me. We'd just heatedly exchange swears and cusses, gilipollas and putas. However, the threat of violence felt very much more probable with the British bulldog. Perhaps it's because British friends of mine have often regaled me with horrible stories of bloody bar fights that bubble up from nowhere in the UK. Why is it that beneath the thin, flimsy veil of respectability, stiff upper lip and civility there lies a barbaric violent streak in the breast of the British bloke?
Photography by Shehani Kay. Original street art found near Metro Puerta del Angel