First I was a late 70’s James Bond villain lounging in my serene, minimalist lair, eating grapes and marveling at the perfect symmetry of my monochromatic surroundings. Then I was a tourist in rural Portugal with a group of foreigners on what I can only guess was a tour of wineries.

We had all just bellied up to this ice cream counter/bar where we were staring at the Portuguese menus, none of us speaking a word of the local language. It bothered me that no one was taking the initiative. I mean, can’t I relax for just one second? Can’t anyone else take the lead once in a while? Especially when I’m on vacation in rural Portugal traveling alone with a bunch of European winos?

I speak Spanish, so I take everyone’s order and relate it to the pudgy boy in the red and white striped hat. Everyone’s drinking cognac or bourbon but I’m drinking a Campari and soda even though we’re all on a wine tour and it’s late at night. I’m in one of my antisocial moods, refusing to make small talk and avoiding eye contact.

When I go to pay, the pudgy boy’s mom clearly overcharges me. I smile and tell her that I believe she made a mistake. My fellow winos are lined up behind me and want to pay so that we can go. Not to be rude, I pay but study the receipt so that I can point out her error, which I do once the last foreigner has paid. But the mom refuses to return my money. Again, I ask nicely a third time (as I do in real life), but again she refuses.

This is when I get all Mexican on her ass. Mexican as in psychotic homosexual on a rampage in rural Portugal. I throw the napkin dispenser at the wall and slam my fists into the partition separating the ice cream from the customers. I kick the cheap aluminum chairs and overturn a scratched and faded table. I call her the worst names I can think of in English and Spanish, ugly cunt and puta pendeja.

I wake up, my heart racing, still pissed that I was screwed out of twenty-five U.S. dollars, my partner sleeping quietly beside me. I don’t like to tell him when I’m feeling tense or trapped or sad. He’s too busy at work to hear the rantings of a trailing partner. Hong Kong is much easier than Tokyo was, but still I feel that clawing, that pressure, that tightening. It’s as if I want someone to assure me that it–whatever it is–is going to be all right. Don’t worry be happy. Easier said than done.

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