Size matters. Europe knows it does, American behemoths.
by Captain Bradley
I’ve always been tall. Then, I became big. Pretty big. I’m certainly not svelte, as I was three decades ago. To be specific, I’m 6’3″ and around 265-275lbs or so, depending on how my week is going. There’s the back-story.
As I sit here in Paris, awaiting my long, yet pleasant, 9-hour flight home on Air France (they treat even peasants pretty darn good with food & drink), I am reflecting upon how this one oversized American was perceived and treated in the sweet country of Spain and the rather short-shrifed airport of Paris.
With a nod to the very Frenchman himself , Andre’ the Giant, I kinda know what he may have felt like when in America. In weird way, I felt like an American version of him (albeit he was a foot taller and maybe twice my weight in his prime…which is why he died in his prime 40’s) across the pond this month.
I’ve never ducked so many times walking through airports, not so much around train stations, but almost anywhere awnings protruded from buildings or when entering and circulating around historic structures. I avoided head injuries on an all to frequent basis. And I loved it all.
Most of all, I got a lot of kicks from the reactions of towns people and fellow pilgrims. Here were my favorite ones:
#3….checking into our last pension in Santiago and we were shown a private room with only one double bed, but with a leather futon. Our host spouted off something about my size to Brianna and she was correct. God bless her. After we checked in and went out to explore the town, our host came in and made that futon as comfy for me as possible. However, there was nothing anyone could do about 2ft of my legs hanging off the end. I still slept well, after 13 marathon days of hiking the Camino. (See all recent posts)
#2….one of our daily traditions was starting fresh after a good nights sleep, not rushing that part, and stopping a few kilometers up the Way at a small village cafe’. One morning, we had to go about 7 or 8k just to get to our first option, along with many others. Brianna had her usual and after a bit, I started to want something more than my daily, fresh-squeezed Orange juice (you should see the contraption that makes it fresh everywhere). I finally went in, apologized in advance for my espanol, and effectively asked for just sliced chorizo. No bread. Just meat. The older lady retorted “no bread?” I said no. She pushed the issue. I said no. She held up two sizes of chorizo and I chose the large one. She filled a plate and took one more run at my need for carbs. She pointed to my size. Discussed her point with her beautiful sidekick behind the bar and the said to me “you so strong (she did that muscle man pose) and so handsome…” with a really coy look on her face. Those two then looked at me like Ringling Brothers was is town and I retorted “Well, you two are so beautiful ” and they giggled like little girls. As they were, I was being generous too. BTW, my chorizo was outstanding for an early lunch….along with a grande cervesa.
And #1……no doubt! There were several moments with all of our Spaniard ladies who we were happy to sleep with (see a few posts ago), if only for one night. They giggled. They chatted in espanol. Their ring-leader spoke excellent English. They, in short, were the most entertaining group of pilgrims that we kept passing, allowing to dart ahead while we slept, and then catch up to everyday. I think the last time was the best as they giggled about me and I heard the interpretation from time to time. This last time demanded a photo. A really short, cute, funny shot the older gal wanted on the trail with me. Of course, I played along. Stooped over, the picture was snapped and we did that cheeky faux-kissing thing all around. They all giggled and we were off again for the last time. Ladies, you will be missed.
Call me Andre’. Call me an albatross. Call me that super sized American…but don’t call me collect…(insert snare drum)…I have no qualms about being this size. It’s the way mom, dad, God, food, and booze made me. I’m fine with it. It’s Europe and their means of travel (not the trains, just the planes and taxis) that don’t serve big strapping, aging John Wayne types, with toupe’ or not, very well.
Won’t stop me. Next time, My Love and I, with any to all willing kids, will be here and all over this country or countries of choice. I won’t do this again without My Love and willing & excited & engaged kids along for the ride.
Looking forward to decades of destinations with My Love, our kids, our grandkids, and only God knows who moving forward
Cheers and happy & safe travels to you and yours!