My Romanian driving instructor, in between telling me that I was a public menace and that I shouldn’t hyperventilate on the freeway, once told me Calabrian women are known for tongues like knives and hearts like furnaces, or else like marshmallows, I don’t recall which. Since then I’ve assumed I inherited my bitchiness from the Italian side, but yesterday at the Café del Mar, while the high tide crashed into the barriers, while she drank her first latté and while I fantasized about eating all the delicious fish swimming around the North Sea, I realized it’s actually from Granny and hence a Yorkshire production.
The third or fourth time I told her I thought del Mar was Spanish and meant ‘of the sea’ (anybody who’s smoked hash oil will understand my Granny’s short term memory) some guys who had been sitting next to us got up and stretched, which made their t-shirts simultaneously pop up over their mighty flabby guts.
Not cute little potbellies, not even normal potbellies, I mean mighty, chip-gravy-and-lager-seven-times-a-week, hairy, flabby guts. The men didn’t resemble each other in their faces but their guts were like triplets. Huge, hairy triplets.
As they exited into the drizzly outdoors Granny and I turned to face each other.
‘What male beauty,’ she said.
‘The temptation,’ I bellowed. (She’s can’t hear much because her ears are 94 years old.)
We sniggered, and as I looked at her and she looked back, I think we both recognized a mirrored expression of pure bitch - pure laughing disdain - pure nasty complicity on each other’s faces. I saw her look as slightly shocked as I felt – and then, once more simultaneously, we smiled at what's bred in the bone.