Thursday, 22 January 2009


Now it has been a long time since we have heard from Mr X and his adventures in the Faustian (but not Faustaonian, which would be much worse) world of Brazilian internet dating (his artistic soul sold in return for a few not so teenage digital kicks – and the controllers of this site would like to stress that the last line is a reference only to Sean Feargal Sharkey and the boys’ three minute masterpiece and nothing to do with any Glitter/Townsend-esque paedophilic shenanigans).

When last we heard, of course, Mr X was well on his way to becoming a cyber Don Joao, but it seems things have gone clankingly awry since then. Romantic adventures, glorious fun while they lasted, have hit the wall with doomy regularity. Mr X knows that a good heart is hard to find (and when was the last time that Feargal had this much prime time exposure?) but should it be this hard? Especially in a country when good hearts come so beautifully, skimpily, packaged?

There was Brazil’s Next Top Model, of course, the existence of whom elicited some gnashing of teeth amongst Mr X’s envious chums shivering away back home on the chilly islands. Brazil’s Next Top Model was dizzyingly beautiful (literally – she was taller than Mr X), smoke and drank like the Hurricane warming up for a few world title frames against Steve Davis, and had political views somewhere to the right of Grimsby (UK readers) / Newfoundland (North American readers).

And everything was going swimmingly with Brazil’s Next Top Model, until one night when Mr X was out drinking in Jordão. Mr X’s phone tinkled pleasantly. It was a message from BNTM. Mr X smiled – a warm night in Jordão, the air soft around him, a cold beer on the table, nothing to do the next day, and now the joys of love’s young dream! I’m reading your emails, the message said. Who are all these women? Mr X wondered - there weren’t that many women – a few emails to friends, cousins, work colleagues, that was all. Another tinkle. Another message. You’re obviously quite the romantic, this one said. All these girls on MSN. This was not so heartening – Mr X conducted his digital wooings via MSN. Tinkle number three. I don’t know if I can trust you anymore. Mr X briefly worried at this, before, like, the captain of the famous big boat built in Belfast (quite a forty shades of green tone to today’s ramblings), he had a sinking feeling. Do you want to explain to me, he texted back, how the hell you’re reading my emails? Silence from BNTM. A couple of hours later, she called with the not particularly teary explanation. I’m a hacker, she said, and I just wanted to know who I was getting myself involved with. What’s the problem? You’re not angry, are you? And the thing was that Mr X wasn’t even that angry, just a little confused, and disappointed that he wasn’t as crazy as a box of Japanese frogs drinking cachaça, which it is about as mad as he calculated he would need to be to maintain a relationship with BNTM.

More fun was had on Mr X’s travels, particularly in The Nicest Place In All of Brazil, Sao Luis, where Mr X met with another online acquaintance, one who possessed all the possible gifts a bountiful Brazilian god might choose to bestow on one of his favourite daughters.

One sunny day Mr X and Miss Sao Luis go out to eat ice-cream. Or this may be a metaphor for something else they are about to do. For example – children really like to eat ice-cream. And what do grown ups like to do as much as children like to eat ice-cream?

Mr X and Miss Sao Luis wait for the waiter to bring their ice creams. I don’t like a really big ice cream, says MSL. It’s too much. Very hard to…

Right
, Mr X says. Ok.

MSL looks at Mr X. Time passes. They wait for their ice-creams.

Of course, a small ice-cream is no good either. What use is a small ice-cream?

It is hot in Sao Luis, and the air is thicker and riper and more fragrant than in Recife. MSL chews a strand of hair and the hair is dark against the red of her lips and the whiteness of her teeth.

No, Mr X says, a small ice-cream is no good.

They wait for their ice-creams. A group of teenage girls in shorts walk past the table.

The ice-creams arrive. The waiter sets them on the table.

MSL looks at her ice-cream. Then she looks at Mr X’s. She looks at it from all angles. She pokes it with a spoon. She considers her verdict.

Hum, she says. Medium. There is a brief moment of silence.

Right, says Mr X, medium.

And they eat their ice-creams. Only, like the Jewish tourist set upon by tough nuts in Belfast and asked if he was a Protestant Jew or a Catholic Jew, he really wants to ask – medium big or medium small?

And this picture, courtesy of whizz-kid (if a 200 year old man can be a whizz kid) recifense phallic sculptor Ricardo Brennand, is a good a way as any of summing up Mr X’s opinion of the ways of love after such tomfoolery.

4 comments:

cabobranco said...

Ola James

So your in Sao Luis. Did you travel via Juazeiro do Norte and Teresina? The road between them is some travel hey? Could not quite pin down your route from your last post, not the usual way, but a great way. Os sertaos! Que characteristicas nao? Sao Luis very different to Recife. How do you compare them?

James Young said...

Hi Cabobranco. Hmmm, I think I went all the way to the end of Pernambuco (14 hours or so) to Araripina, then right to Picos in Piuai, then on to Teresina. Piaui - well, not too much to say, just the same endless scrub and white hot sky for 9 hours...a friend tells me that they´re some of the friendliest people in all Brazil though. I loved Sao Luis...I thought the people and the place had a quiet type of dignity that bigger cities in Brazil don´t have so much (replacing it with cocky swagger I suppose, and why not?). I remember sitting in a bar by the bus station and suddenly noticing what I couldn´t hear - bawled conversation from the other tables, deafening forro or worse (if there is any worse) blaring from the stereo. Lovely. And more cultural identity and energy than your old stamping ground and my personal seventh circle of hell, Joao Pessoa....

cabobranco said...

Oi James

Great journey that James. I love the sertao: most foreigners think everyone just wants to get out of the place, but it has soul for the locals and for me it is a total off the track place, a pleasure to visit.

Your right about the blared forro! The forro sang by a trio of old blokes is ALWAYS far, far better. I guess you've read the passage about Recife in "The Saddest Pleasure"?

Sao Luis much different to Recife, physically alone it feels a different World, lot less packed for a big Brazlian city.

Joao Pessoa, I loved the beach at cabo branco. I lived on the avenida, best urban beach in Brazil, granted not a party town.

Parabens amigo for your journey!

James Young said...

By the way Cabobranco I deleted your comment on the "friends/colegas" post - I hope you don´t mind, it´s just that it´s quite a personal piece about a friend who has suffered a serious accident, and I´d rather not have any comments on it that might strike the wrong chord with his friends or family. I don´t know how to block comments on any one post, unfortunately. It´s nothing to do with your post and of course nothing personal though.