Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another One

A year or so ago, a woman moved into the annoying house next door. Nothing strange about that, people come and go from there all the time. Problem was, this one took a liking to me. A powerful liking. The kind of liking that makes you understand why Brazilians are so insanely jealous. She liked me and she let me know and she let the whole damn world know while she was at it.

There was a funny incident at my wedding where some random woman I had never seen in my life took a liking to my father, who was 75 at the time and has been very happily married for many years. She was so aggressive about trying to flirt with him, and get him to sit next to her, and I don't know what else that he tried to flee the reception. He was acutely uncomfortable. I told him to ignore her and seated him at another table with all my brothers and she finally got the picture and backed off. Before she left she even tried to make a dramatic pseudo-apology saying that she was also happily married and there was some kind of misunderstanding about her intentions. Kinda indefensible if the first thing you say about a guy is "QUE GATO!!" which means literally "what a cat" but really means "what a sexy guy" and then won't shut up about how he should be doing certain things that would force him to pay attention to her. Brazilians have an excellent expression "cara de pao," which means "face of wood" to indicate someone who is completely shameless about doing something, like telling big fat lies.

One of the 'nice' things about living here in Brazil is that I'm sometimes considered a hot prospect by the Brazilian ladies, something I was generally not considered when I lived in the states. At least that's what I've been told- I am generally completely oblivious when someone is trying to hit on me and always have been. With this neighbor obliviousness was not an option. She shamelessly and blatantly offered herself to me on several occasions despite zero encouragement from me.

This all came to a head one evening as I was walking past the bar on my street and she was sitting at one of the outdoor tables with some people and said very loudly "There goes the best looking guy on the street." I ignored her. Fortunately for me, Evani happened to witness the incident from the window, and she was loud enough that Evani heard every word. I guess she had some sense of shame because she didn't bother me after that. Or maybe she was scared of Evani. Evani has made it quite clear that she would claw the eyes out of any woman who tries to jump my bones.

The only good thing about the annoying people who move in next door is that they always move away after a couple months, reportedly because it is such an unpleasant place to live.  This particular annoying neighbor did the same thing, moving to a house on the next street over and we didn't see her around much anymore. Fine with me. Evani, who is tapped into the grapevine here on our block, occasionally tells me random things about our neighbors and/or ex-neighbors. The two items I heard about this woman, whose name I don't even know, was that she had gotten into smoking crack and prostituting herself. Oh well- plenty of that going around. This week Evani told me she was dead.

I didn't know or like the woman, but I knew who she was and I'm always shocked when I hear something like that, much more than Evani is.  Evani has seen so many people around her die that it doesn't faze her unless she really liked the person.  She sometimes accuses me of not believing things that she tells me, but the truth is that I find some of these things so hard to believe that I can't just accept them without being a bit incredulous. Blame the message, not the messenger. This is at least the fourth ex-neighbor that has died under less than natural circumstances since we moved here, and I can't even count how many have kicked off, or been kicked off, in Paripe. Another acquaintance of hers, a drinking buddy of her brothers who I met a couple times died this week as well. She told me some other guy who I never met was murdered the other day. As far as I know, no murders have happened on our street since we've lived here, although I did hear a dog get shot at five in the morning the next street over about a month ago.

When Evani told me about this woman I had to modulate my reaction, something I've learned to do with mixed success over the years in order for her not to think I don't believe her and also not to appear overly interested in what happened, to keep her from getting suspicious. The story, which did get 'confirmed' by another gossip hound on our street, is far from clear- apparently she was selling herself to sailors here in the bay (a practice detailed in the movie Cidade Baixa (Lower Citywhich takes place here in Salvador) but nobody knows if she was murdered or overdosed or what.

To conclude... how do I conclude? I already said I didn't like the woman, and I don't even know her name. She told Evani one time that she has a little girl somewhere that she is not raising; I feel badly for the kid, although she probably didn't know her mother real well. I doubt anyone here on the block is going to miss her much. I could go on and on about how awful poverty and drug addiction and prostitution are. As I have said before in this blog, everybody knows that stuff already.  But you understand it a lot better when someone says "Hey, remember that woman that lived next door? She's dead now."


A.L.R. said...

O pai O! What a dramatic post. I hope that your next neighbor is less crackish and prostitutish. Bahia only gets more crazy.

markuza said...

Thanks man... as for the next neighbor, there are about a dozen of them and one or two are always in the marginal category... one of them being the stoner prostitute with the three kids- oh yeah, I wrote about them! The ones that washed my car out of the blue. They're gone now too.

I hope you can join us for our election returns party on Tuesday at the Clube Espanhol!