Sunday, January 8, 2012

Arguments and Never Having to Say You're Sorry

The day (Saturday) started out promising and on a lovely note. The night before (another practically sleepless one - my body clock issues again...) I had done some research on "where to get an American style breakfast in Madrid" and lo and behold, discovered the VIPS chain of restaurants.  There was one just a few blocks from Hostal Gonzalo, where we were staying.

We had a lovely breakfast - no chocolate and churros!  No 5 euros for a slice of toast with no butter and a small cafe con leche!  I had my first scrambled eggs in a week - it was like Heaven.  Don was happy too with his breakfast, despite ordering an American Breakfast instead of the English Breakfast he said he'd wanted; of course he had no idea why he'd ordered the wrong breakfast, he just went ahead and ordered the wrong breakfast.  We received french fries (with breakfast???) instead of the home fries listed in the menu, and those didn't get eaten (we'd had our fill of McDonalds fries, having eaten at McDonalds two days in a row, including "breakfast" the day before -- Big Mac Meals).  I do want to note, though, that when we returned to VIPS the next day for another American (and English) style breakfast the cook got the orders right and served what they consider "home fries."  They were okay, but I would have paid 5 euros for some well-cooked and properly seasoned hash browns!  And butter that has some actual flavor - por favor!  And a free glass of cold tap water!

After breakfast, we headed out for a short walk to stretch out our legs and make plans for the day.  Along the way we stopped and took some photographs of a very old Madrid church, St. Jerimino, and also went inside.  There were several very beautiful Madonnas inside, but the lighting was not good and we were not allowed to use flash on our cameras.  Ironically, the thing I remember the most was the electric votive candles that have replaced the real things.  I do understand the move to electric candles (battery operated?) but you know, it just didn't have the same effect I remember from visiting churches years ago.  And no - Jehovah god did not strike me dead as I passed over the threshhold into St. Jerimino's -- probably because it was a bastion of madonnas and the Goddess!

St. Jerinimo Church is situated above the left entry area of the Prado Museum.
Here is a view of the impressive stairway (parts carved of much deteriorated sandstone, it appears)
that leads to the center entrance.  The building is an incredible mix of styles as well as brick-work,
set-in stone work, limestone trim and sandstone trim (deteriorated).

The front facade of St. Jerinimo Church.
The following photographs from the interior of St. Jerinimo were taken by Mr. Don.  I think if you click on each of these photographs of the beautiful madonnas you will get a separate page with a VERY large JPG that you can admire the details on more fully. 

Then we strolled through a lovely residential neighborhood - obviously "high rent."  It reminded us in a way of some parts of Fifth Avenue in New York.  There was not a lot of foot traffic and we had a wonderful walk without banging elbows with scores of other people.  Mr. D was full of energy and talk.  We passed an "old" city gate constructed by one of the Bourbon kings - it's lovely and impressive.  Mr. D had taken my picture in front of this gate during our 2002 visit.

On our way back toward the Neptune Fountain I suddenly espied the James Joyce Irish Pub! There it was, one of the popular "Irish" restaurants in Madrid that Mr. D had been reading about. He had mentioned that he would like to visit an Irish pub if we got the chance. And so, I pointed it out to him. It wasn't far from our hotel at all! 

And then there we were once again, atg the intersection of the Calle Acala, Paseo del Prado and the Gran Via.  On the left if the corner facade of the Banco Espana.  The middle building with the impressive winged sculpture at the top of the dome is the Hotel Metropolis and the Calle Acala and the Gran Via fork there.  On the right is a building - I have no idea what it is, but it reminded me so much of the Milwaukee County Courthouse with its neo-classical structure and gigantic pillars.  It is part of a closed-off to the public area so it must be a ministry building of some sort or other.  Not seen in this photo is the Fountain of Cybele just out of frame to the right.  We got some great photos of Cybele the next day.

We headed back to the hotel to download our photographs and video and take a bathroom break and reorganize.  Our plan for the afternoon was to head to the Museo Arqueologico.  All was harmony.  I should have known.

The one thing about getting into an argument with someone you've known for 13 years is that you do it in shorthand. "You always..." and "you always..." and "you are..." and "No, YOU are..." The thing about Mr. Don is - when we get into one of those arguments, he doesn't know when to shut up, and he gets furious when I stop talking, clam up, and go storming off away from him as fast as I can go...  What he fails to understand is that he says such nasty things and I could retaliate in kind, but what good would that do? 

We argue - nothing new there. We don't argue very often, I think, in comparison to other duos, but when we do argue it's usually always about the same thing - his refusal to listen to anything I have to say when he thinks he has it right -- and guess what -- he usually doesn't. On the Piss Me Off Scale from 1 to 10 this is a 10 and it never fails to set me off like a firecracker.  What is particularly provoking is that he should know this by now, and yet he still insists on doing it.  Why???

It's a button that he insists on pushing despite 13 years of arguments about it - fierce arguments and break-ups, too, all caused by his inability to say okay, let's try your way, or to ever admit he's wrong when it turns he is wrong. And, you know, the Heavens would collapse if he - gasp - ever actually apologized for acting like an arrogant, ignorant schmuck when he is mistaken.

As per usual, the whole thing started over something really really stupid - how to get to the Museo Arqueologico in Madrid. We visited in 2002 without digital cameras and we were both eager to see the collection again with cameras in hand this time.

It was a beautiful day - the weather was warm for January, even the locals were commenting on the extraordinary weather, and sunny.  The particular quality of blue in the Madrid sky is something to behold. I had the address for the Museo Arqueologico on Calle Serrano.  We had a map of the immediate area.  We knew that the Museo was right next to the building that houses the National Library.  Should have been a piece of cake to navigate to the correct location, right?

We set off at a leisurely strolling pace, unlike the pace that was more akin to the forced march pace of the day before.  Couples were out in force, strolling arm in arm, and children were everywhere.  Up the Paseo de Recollectos we strolled, looking for the building that housed the National Library.  At one point I thought it might be an imposing building behind a wrought iron fence, but Don thought it was too small to be the right building, so we kept on walking.  Further up the street we found the correct building, but before we crossed the street to it we rested on a well positioned park bench while Mr. D had a cigarette and we both soaked in the sun and idly chatted.  It was lovely. 

After our nice break we crossed the street.  I wanted to keep walking on that street -- we could not see a street name.  Mr. D insisted that we could enter the Museo by going through the library and he wanted to turn into the driveway that fronted the main entrance.  He said he remembered doing this in 2002.  Since he has no memory of anything else that we did in Madrid during 2002 I found this rather suspicious, particularly since I had no memory of ever doing such a thing to get to the Museo;  my memory was of a long walk on Calle Serrano to get to the Museo and I remembered sphinxes on either side of the entrance that was approached by a short flight of stairs.  There were no sphinxes in sight.  I said I have the address for the Museo -- Calle Serrano 13, and this ain't it.  Major Ignore.  He went deaf on me totally at that point.

Major Ignore continued as he insisted we go up the stairs to enter the building so he could ask someone where we were.  Well, I knew where we were - it wasn't at the Museo! Let's go out that way and walk up that street (I pointed to a nearby gate that opened to a side street) - maybe it leads to Serrano, I suggested.  Major Ignore continued.  He was focused only on entering the National Museum up a long flight of stairs (looked to be about 50 steps), ignoring my bad knees.  He was saved from being gut-kicked only by the appearance of a young man from the left asking in clear English for directions to the same Museo for which we were searching.  Turns out he was a tourist from Amsterdam.

At length, we approached a guard on the premises who said go there (pointing through the gate through which I had earlier suggested to Mr. Don we go), walk up the street and then turn the corner to the left and we will be at the entrance to the Museo.

Off we went - the three of us.  Lo and behold, when we reached the corner after walking a long block, we are on - CALLE SERRANO. 

I said oh look, we are on CALLE SEERRANO.  Major Ignore.

The Museo is closed for renovations - something we didn't know.  There is a bench on the street outside the closed iron gates barring our entrance to the short walk to the equally short stairway entry to the Museo - flanked by two sphinxes.  I sit down as Mr. D proceeds to continue to chat to the charming young fellow from Amsterdam for another 20 minutes.  He decides to head to the Prado instead.  I had wanted to go to the Prado, but the entry fee was 12 euros, ridiculous!  Besides, Mr. D had said he wasn't interested in going back to the Prado (we'd had a brief visit in 2002) -- what's to see there, he said, besides a bunch of religious pictures and "The Garden of Earthly Delights" which he likes and I find hideously ugly and uninteresting.  And so it goes...

Eventually the young man from Amsterdam turns around and heads off in the direction from which we'd come.  Mr. D comes over to me at the bench, where I am pointedly ignoring his existence.  He (the young tourist from Amsterdam) is going to the Prado, he says. I'm thinking about going to the Prado, he says.  Maybe we should go to the Prado, he says.

We have some words.  Not one acknowledgement out of his mouth that the entrance to the Museo is exactly where I said it would be - on Calle Serrano.  He could have avoided the entire argument if he had only acknowledged that fact.  I mean, we were fricking RIGHT THERE. 

No, I'm not going to the Prado.  Remember, you didn't want to go there?  It was too expensive and you would be bored?  I'm tired, I declare. I'm going back to the hotel.  I head off down Calle Serrano back to - the Paseo de Recollectos.  If only...  If only he had said okay, let's walk up this way for a stretch when I'd first suggested it. No fight, no meeting young man from Amsterdam whom he'd found more interesting than me.

I just want to get away from this stupid, stupid man.  I don't know how long a walk it actually is, but it seems very long.  He's going on and on at me all the while and I'm sure people can see steam pouring out of my ears.  My brain feels as if it is melting.  Among my other sins at some point it seems it is all my fault that the Museo is closed since I did not check it beforehand on the computer.  As we approach the intersection with the Fountain of Cybele, which signals that we are only another half mile or so from Calle de Cervantes and our hotel, he says some particularly hurtful things, trying to provoke a response perhaps, much to the interest of people we are passing on the sidewalks.  It's always about YOU, he shouts.  You ALWAYS hold a grudge, he shouts. That statement in particular is so ridiculous it provokes a response and I turn around.  Some people halt in their tracks, watching the unfolding drama.  Oh, he got a response, all right, no doubt not the one he was looking for.  I turn back and continue on my way; at some point he takes off in another direction.  I wasn't looking, so I don't know when that happened.  I was just glad to have him away from me at last and to have his barrage of venom done with.

I stop by the GAMA store (a sort of mini-supermarket we discovered our second night in town) and picked up an inexpensive bottle of rose wine.  They have excellent inexpensive Spanish rose wines there, as well as other popular offerings but me, I like the roses and the sweet reds.  I get back to the hotel as fast as I can and open the bottle, pour a small glass of wine and gulp down several small glasses of water (there is no such thing as a large glass of anything in Madrid, it seems - certainly not anything approaching 8 ounces - but the bathroom does offer two small glasses so one can use both from which to drink).  I try to blog, but blogger was absolutely not cooperating at the time. Probably a good thing.

I gave up blogging and tuned into a smooth jazz station on my trusty little Acer notebook.  I opened the window (the rooms are way too warm), closed the curtains, crawled under the bedspread fully clothed and managed to fall asleep between 4 and 6 p.m. or so when there was a knock on my door.  Groggy, I groped my way out of bed and opened the door -- probably not a smart thing to do but I feel very safe at the Hotel Gonzalo.  There stands Mr. D acting as if nothing has happened.  I am leery.  How would you like to go to supper at the James Joyce he asks?  Okay, I say.  Give me a few minutes to get ready.

Abracadabra!  Presto Chango!  Argument over, as if it never happened. Until the next time he turns schmuckoid on me again.

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