Monday, November 28, 2011


12. "Nobody truly admits the existence of someone else."

In the Rua Garrett of the Chiado, there is a bronze statue of Pessoa seated at a table outside one of his favorite hangouts, A Café Brasileira. The table and chairs of ca. 1910 design are part of the composition.

I go inside to the bar, order and espresso and advise the woman (I refuse to adopt the fatuously inflated post-modern term, "barista" for someone who in this case is surely an immigrant from Luanda, or in other countries, would be either a dropout from a state university or a private university graduate with a degree in something like Peace Studies or Sustainable Horticulture) that I will be sitting outside.

Once I have deposited my book/camera bag and changed to clear distance glasses I take out my old Olympus SLR and position myself less than 4 feet from the sculpture, raise the camera to my eye and--just as I depress the shutter button--a short woman in a black jacket manages to squeeze herself between Pessoa and me, ruining the shot.

Because it is my birthday I have vowed to be generous and kind, and therefore resist telling her "Gracias, pendeja", as I would have if someone had pulled that agressive move in Mexico City, but under my breath I mutter "Thanks, asshole", and hope that she hears me--which, clearly, she will not, as she had admitted neither my existence nor the immortalized existence of Pessoa.

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