Life in Spain
By Matt Price
trip to Madrid begins in the Delta Crown Room at LAX, the private
club that Delta provides for its business elite passengers. I sit
in a designated quiet area that restricts cell phone usage. It's
8:43 in the morning, and a nearby woman orders a vodka and orange
juice. Next to her sits a man in a brown derby who talks loudly
on his cell phone. Being an elite customer, I think about asking
him to power down, but as I put my glasses on to see what kind of
man defies the quiet area, befriends an alcoholic, and wears a derby,
I see that this man is Robert Wagner. Normally this would be weird
to me. But today I am traveling to Spain to shoot a dog food commercial,
and to this point in my life, nothing is weirder than that.
I got the job, I had a million questions. Where would I be staying?
Do they know that I only know five Spanish words which probably
wouldn't help much unless I needed to feed the dog "lechuga"
(lettuce)? But my biggest question was echoed by everyone who I
told about this job: who the hell would fly me 7,000 miles to shoot
a dog food commercial? I have a pretty big ego, but I know for a
fact that I am not famous. I google myself at least three times
a week, and I know where I stand. Even amongst other Matt Prices,
I am not as well known as say the Australian journalist Matt Price
or the stand up comedian in London Matt Price. So if I come in a
distant third to my own name, why would anyone pay me a large sum
of money to come to Madrid and do what I did in the audition, i.e.
chase a cat around a yard? The plane ticket alone cost $5,263.22.
That's a flat screen TV, a flat screen on which I could watch myself
lose my dignity if I was only in Spain where this commercial would
a 14 hour flight to think about this absurd turn of events so I
tried to distract myself as much as possible. I eat everything the
stewardesses offer. "Shrimp cocktail?" "Sure."
"Filet mignon?" "Absolutely." "Hot fudge
sundae?" "Is that even a question?
aren't so bad in Business Elite. I'm well fed. I've got 8 channels
on Delta Horizons TV. I look at the map. 11 hours to go. Holy fuck
is this far. I think about all the things that I'll do when I get
back. This is a calming ritual for me when I fly. It grounds me
in the future. I decide that when I return, I want to build something
out of wood. A birdhouse maybe. Use my hands. I want to start a
band, especially before I get much balder. You simply can't rock
as hard as a bald man unless you shave it all off, and my head's
too big for that. I want to work out more. All of the time, in fact.
As soon as I return, I will go to the gym daily, and I will be in
the best shape of my life. The stewardess interrupts this thought
with warm chocolate chip cookies, and I stick out my hand like Paris
Hilton grabbing for attention.
the nine hour time change, I arrive in Madrid exactly one day later
than when I left. I can't siesta so I use my newly purchased calling
card to call my girlfriend, Tamara. Tamara and I are moving in together
in a week, and that's why I can't stay in Spain any longer than
the two days they're paying for. It's midnight in L.A. I tell her
how weird I think that is. She agrees. There's a lull. How can we
have a lull? I'm in Spain. There shouldn't be any lull!! Now I'm
worried about the shoot, not sleeping and the lull. Maybe this is
my Lost in Translation, and soon Scarlett Johansen will walk
around the corner eating a tortilla. I think to myself, "No,
dude, it's just a lull. You love your girlfriend. Go to sleep."
Myself thinks back, "But what if there is a Scarlett Johansen.
She's really pretty." "Shut up, dude. You're really annoying.
Go to fucking sleep." "I can't. I'm in Spain, and I'm
sleepless hours later, a guy who speaks no English picks me up in
a non-descript white van. For this reason, I'm fairly convinced
that he's going to kidnap me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see
where the lock is on the van door, knowing full well I can just
leap out onto the highway if I need to. He turns up the stereo,
and we're listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Greatest Hits,
and I immediately feel better. This is my Spanish driver's way of
telling me that he loves America. Or at least he's trying to soften
me for the kill. I don't care. At least I die happy because "Breaking
the Girl" is suddenly the best song I've ever heard. The crooked,
tree-lined Madrid streets whiz by, and tables of beautiful, dark
Spanish women eat tapas at a café, Anthony Kiedis fills my
ears, and I feel weirder and freer than I ever have in my entire
life. Bueno, Espagne!! Lechuga por favor!!
brief joy is squashed when my silent driver pulls up to a low income
housing project, looks at me and nods. I say, "oh, um
"Gracias" is another of the five words I know, and I will
say it four hundred more times before I leave. He points me in a
direction of a group of teenagers hanging out on a corner, and I
become fairly sure that the kids are going to tackle me and hang
me by my feet in a Spanish prison.
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