On the way back from lunch, I misstepped on an uneven sidewalk (that’s a redundancy in Brazil) and took a spill headlong. My right knee took the worst of it, with bruises and bloody scrapes. My blessing was that my beautiful face suffered no abrasions, stopping within a hairs breadth of the concrete. I also have bruised palms and chest. I’ll be sore for a few days, but that should be the worst of it.
Mike H., Mr BBQ himself, will say it was all punishment for going to the vegetarian restaurant.
On my way to lunch (I was on foot today), I ran into … The Missus and The Maiden. They’d bought fruits and vegetables at the open-air market (feira livre) next to Santos Dumont Park, always on Tuesdays, and were carrying their purchases to the car. How neat is that?
Went to cut my hair this morning. Nothing I hate more than getting it cut; nothing I like better than the feeling of having it cut. The girl who set up my appointment by phone failed to inform the head (as in chief) hair snipper, and she set up another one, so that when I arrived five minutes early, said hair snipper was just plopping a lady in the chair, getting ready to cut.
Not wanting to witness the mutilation of another’s locks, I went down the street for a cafezinho.
Very few commercial establishments have air conditioning. Most stores leave their doors open to the street, helps the circulation inside, I suppose. So, in recent years, those stores that have installed air usually have a sign on the door, something like: “Open — Air conditioned.” Otherwise, it looks like they’re closed. Little cultural item for you, there.
The coffee shop and snack bar had the air-conditioning sign on the door, but the door was open and the air conditioner turned off. This at 10 a.m., when the temperature was probably 85º and stuffy inside. But not yet sweaty-sticky enough to power up the cool, in the owner’s mind, always with an eye to the balance sheet. So I downed my cafezinho and gummed the cheese bread ball I’d ordered, paid my R$4 fare (US$1.00 = R$1,70, you do the math), and stepped out to cooler air.
Heading back down the street, I see through the open door — no air conditioning here — my clipper lady still going strong at a wet head, so I walk to the end of the street to circle the tiny plaza, in the middle of which sits a small Catholic building. I look like a drunk as I walk, though my trajectory lies in straight lines, between points of one tree or building shade to another. The church building is closed up, as are the two fancy pizza restaurants facing it, since pizza is a night-time food in Brazil. (Don’t go to “O Pedal” pizzeria: the food is good, but the service is lousy.)
Behind the church plaza, on yet another plaza, this one with trees, is the city’s only psychiatric hospital. The hospital owner, whom we’ve met, is a friend of friends. Your typical psychiatrist. A line of cars are sidled up to the sidewalk. It must be visitation day. I get some stares, and my knee has yet to be skint. Maybe they think I’m an escapee. Here’s an oddity: the name of the plaza the hospital is on is called Praça Chuí, pronounced shoo-EE. I kid you not. Except it doesn’t have the sense that the word has in English. I don’t know what the word means.
I refuse to comment on the proximity of the psychiatric hospital to the church building. I wouldn’t be surprised if the owner, a self-styled agnostic, thought it was a thorn in the Catholic foot.
Back at the beauty shop (now, that’s a misnomer, if ever there was one), I still must wait. I sit and watch some detached female foot get primped. I close my eyes to the indecent sight of pedicurial ministrations, and the cackle of gossip, for lack of visual stimulation, grows louder to my ears. My situation has not improved. I’m the only male in the place, which in itself doesn’t bother me, since I grew up with all female cousins on one side of the family. I’m used to it. Or used to be. But a beauty shop has never been, and will never be, a place I’d choose to kill time in.
I get my hair cut here — the name, in Portuguese, is “Manicure Center,” the first a good Portuguese word; the second, borrowed from English — because, besides being The Missus’ and The Maiden’s weekly haunt, the head (as in chief) hair snipper offered me a quality cut at a discount, to ween me away from my middling barber. I took her up on it, and was so satisfied that I’ve continued submitting myself to the womanly atmosphere. I have seen a man or two there, getting pedicures, which is not an unmanly activity in this culture, strangely enough. Men are macho, but they like nice hands, I guess. Another little cultural item for you today. Me, I don’t do pedicures or manicures. I clip my own nails. Haircuts are plenty for me, thanks.
By the time I get back to the office, a five-minute walk from the Manicure Center, I’ve spent an hour. I may rethink going back to the barber. At least, he has more interesting, if not more recent, magazines.
So I arrived at the office in time to start out again for lunch and on the way back, meet up with a specially wicked uneven sidewalk. I have the bloodied knee to prove it. But my hair looks nice.