- Slippery floors. Madrileños are very clean people, which my inner germaphobe loves, but this becomes a problem when all floors--even in the metro and the airport--are mopped and waxed so frequently, you literally can't walk properly. I almost missed my train today because if I tried to run or even walk at a normal pace I would have slipped and knocked my teeth out...which is usually not my favorite way to start the morning.
- English t-shirts. A couple days ago I spotted a nondescript middle-aged woman wearing a crucifix necklace over a tshirt that read "GOOD GIRLS GO TO HEAVEN, BAD GIRLS GO EVERYWHERE." Later that afternoon, I saw an extremely mild-looking, balding man wearing a fanny pack and a shirt that read "IF I GET SWALLOWED BY THE SEA, TELL MY GIRLFRIENDS I LOVE THEM!" And today at lunch, I saw a UC3M student with a shirt that screamed in neon letters, "SHUT THE FUCK UP." Cute, right? Do these people just not speak English but thought it would be fun to wear an English shirt anyway, or do Spaniards just have a weird sense of humor?
- Gay...or European? The other day in the gym I found myself on a treadmill next to a man wearing an impossibly tight spandex shirt, a heavy gold chain necklace (while running? seriously?) and about a pound of hair gel in his highlighted coif. I spent most of my time on the treadmill wondering if he was gay or just Spanish. In the US, I have nearly flawless gaydar. But here, a dude with a manicure and white capri pants could be as straight as
Michele Bachman's husbandan arrow. There's really no difference between the clientele of a gay discoteca and a "normal" one. I'm pretty thankful I'm a taken lady, otherwise I'd be highly frustrated with all this ambiguity.
- Eating all my food...and eating it properly. I'm no caveman when it comes to mealtime, but I'll be honest, I had no idea what a fish knife looked like until last week. I know the cup goes to the right of your plate and the knife's blade always faces inwards, but if you handed me a set of tiny dessert forks and spoons I would look around for a toddler. And when I don't like something on my plate or just don't feel like eating all of it, I have these two wonderful options called The Garbage Disposal and A Ziploc Container (or most of the time, My Dad). But here, I'm expected to use a minimum of five different utensils with each meal, and completely clear my plate. Gone are the days of using my fork as a knife because I was too lazy to get a knife from the kitchen. Gone are the days of picking the artichoke hearts out of my pasta. Last night my salmon fillet had espinicas (spine bones) in it, and in my attempt to remove them so I wouldn't die, my host mom informed me I was "destroying" my fish. And when I didn't touch the beets on my salad (I just saw Dwight Schrute's smirking face on every one), I was told to "cómalas, cómalas" (eat them, eat them)! I guess all this eating of weird foods is helping out with my goal of being más aventurera, but I don't think any amount of tiny forks will ever help me enjoy eating slimy, salty, gag-inducing anchovies.