Barcelona is tres chic. From young to old the Barcelonan drips style. Hair is worn long by young men and short by girls, pants are as common as jeans, spectacles are worn by verily 70% of the people allowing for all manner of trendy bifocals (not correct use of word, but cool word nonetheless). Beards, never unkempt, are common. Shorts aren’t done nor are baseball caps and food is never taken while walking.
This all has an interesting effect upon the unaccustomed eye. It presents an image of a society that is full of young sophisticates who, if character is judged on appearance are all budding philosophers, literati, musicians, artists etc. who are deeply engaged with the issues of the day and all engrained with an undying curiosity about the world, both physical and abstract, that surrounds them. It seems like a city full of engaged and intelligent equals, like the Barcelona that first confronted Orwell in the 1930s.
The illusion makes me quiver with delight. It held me for my first few days here but eventually the rose tints dulled and I realized that, in reality, people here are probably just as infected with the conceit and apathy of their (decidedly more self-conscious) fashionista brethren in Melbourne. But the illusion was a nice one.
Anyway, after that totally over-generalized digression we arrive at the topic of this entry: me (speaking of conceitedness). So, I wear a belt. I wear other items of clothing too like shoes occasionally. But for me the belt (la cinta) is a point of security, I feel incomplete without one (as with my watch and long socks). Ironically, however, the belt I have with me on this trip affords me no security, the unreliable bugger.
It is a rather nice Zegna belt that is brown on one side and black on the other side and can be flipped around to match your shoes. Its buckle can be detached to allow its length to be shortened. I had it shortened a few months ago at one of those little boothes that are in shopping centres. The smith obviously didn’t love his job as his brusque truncation of my leather demonstrated and for this dispassion I have suffered ever since.
The belt has become a capricious thing as the leather, without warning, will simply break out of the jaws of its buckle while the buckle, weighing down the other end of the belt will dangle unceremoniously between my legs like a long metal headed penis. The length and, in turn, the visibility and absurdity of this thin python (pythin?) is determined by how far I walk with it dangling around. Usually I notice by the time it bangs my knees, or my pants start to fall down.
Upon noticing there is nothing I can do but, as discreetly as possible, scoop up my dangly bits and reattach them. Unfortunately this always gives the impression that I am doing up my pants after doing a wee or something like that.
This presents an awkward situation in the perpetually crowded streets of Barcelona. While this pucker young gentleman struts along, hands in his pockets, crotch thrust outwards, whistling gaily, little does he know he looks like an idiot and if children are nearby a pervert to boot. As soon as I notice my dilemma I am left to struggle with my belt, re-clipping and tightening my pants at just the right height to prevent re-breakage but also to stop pant slippage. It is a technical process that involves me fiddling around with the intricacies of the belt clasp under my jacket that hangs to my knees all the while looking like a bigger perv with every second spent diddling.
In order to avoid drawing attention to myself I try and pretend I am engrossed in a store front display or a poster while I try as subtly as possible to reattach my belt. This presents a problem when the only store front available has a woman’s gown on display or something similar thus giving me the visage of a lecherous gentleman playing with himself over a mannequin. Even worse if I am sitting down on a park bench, sitting next to a gaggle of old women.
In order to stop my belt breaking I have resorted to wearing my pants at an impossibly low height. This means that they will encounter as little physics as possible and therefore the belt won’t be jimmied out of its clasp by my movement.
So now I have to sloop around town with my pants below my waist, my shirt untucked, and my belt serving no purpose whatsoever. All the while incurring the judgements of those impeccably dressed and über cool Catalonians.