Madrid in Crisis 3

You want to know what happens when the President of the ECB doesn’t deliver what he promised just a few days before?  You get a 7% in the stock market, that’s what you get.  In about eight minutes.  Man, that’s worse than hitting the Bizarro rollercoaster at Six Flags New England; or at least that’s what they say.  I’ve never been on it.  I don’t do those things because my life is already in enough risk as it is.

            And on the same day, the huge Spanish flag that waves over the Plaza de Colón, near the center ofMadrid, plummeted to the ground.  Just an hour before.  Honest to God.  Can you get anymore symbolic?  Maybe perhaps if it had smothered some poor unemployed guy to death.  The banner is just that big.  290m².  Yes, that’s more than four times the size of my home.  I a releasing this information in the hopes the international media will pick it up and publish it as yet more proof that this country is falling apart.  That anyone with two eyes, two ears, a mouth and a nose, will immediately tug away all capital from this land and invest someplace else, because now that the faltering economy is dragging all of Europe, and by extension, the rest of the world down with it, yes, my friends, let’s do everything in our power to make things worse.

            Ora pro nobis.

            Mario Draghi, by the way, didn’t quite say he wouldn’t help outSpain.  He didn’t quite say that at all.  He just explained procedure.  He said that the Bank just can’t buy up sovereign debt on an act of unilateral initiative.  There had to be a little step required beforehand:  The countries had to ask for it.

           Spainwas trying to avoid this, and this is why I think that is.  If the ECB just lent a helping hand on its own, politically speaking,Spaincould always say it never “requested the aid” out of desperation.  That makes the country look good.  It would be just accepting the assistance of a friendly and rich neighbor.  But that s not the way things generally go.  Protocol demands a formal petition.  And the papers all cried foul, saying that the ECB was pushingSpaintowards a formal rescue plan, as if that weren’t the case now.

            Oh well, once word got out, I raced to the center to watch all of the rioting going on, hoping that maybe I could benefit from the looting.  It was August after al, and I did need some new things for the home.  But the streets around the Puerta del Sol were packed with foreigners who, in my opinion, should not have been there in the first place, because they had been forewarned that this country was on the verge of becoming a haven for mayhem.  Not one of them looked the least bit worried, except for the fact they wouldn’t understand a lot of what the menu said.  How could they be so calm in the face of impending doom?

            I ventured over the San Miguel Market, a pricey but attractive food market reconverted into a fairly fancy gourmet tapas venue, and there I met a friend who had tickets for an outdoor flamenco dance performance. It was part ofMadrid’s summer cultural offer.  The dancer was a guy named Farruquito, who was famous to me because of a hit-and-run accident he was involved with years ago.  He did the hitting; he did the running; he killed the victim.  The most outrageous part was that when the police finally caught up with him, he put the blame on his little brother.  I used to do this about things like stealing Oreo cookies or breaking a window with a tennis ball, but even then; and when it comes to homicide, I’d like to think I wouldn’t shake my finger at a brother and say “He did it!”  Now, the rationale was that he figured that if his brother, who was thirteen at the time, took the blame, then the sentence would be less for being a minor.  Whereas he would have to face a more serious penalty.  Talk of poor handling of a crisis.   The police didn’t buy it for a second, and Farruquito fessed up.  He did time and looked like a big jackass too.

            But people who commit crimes, people who make mistakes, can be redeemed.  People can recover from low moments.  Ora pro nobis.

            And there he was, in the gardens of Sabatini, with the white-lighted Palacio Real in the backdrop, and a full moon rising over the opera house to our left, we enjoyed a wonderful evening a traditional Spanish flamenco dancing.  I know squat about this artform, or the little I know hardly makes me a connoisseur, but I can recognize quality.  I can.  El Farruquito and another little brother awed us with their footwork and mastery.  It was a purist style, the way I am sure most of the crowd was hoping for.  All was forgiven.

            At the end, El Farruquito spoke and said how happy he was to be back in Madrid, that’s what they always say, and how important it is for him to perform at the level Madrid expected of him.  That is true.  Madrid is not Andalusia, but there are many with a fairly high understanding of flamenco.  A large and elderly gypsy woman who sat just to my left and who had been enjoying the show probably more than anyone there in the audience shouted for all to hear, “That’s right Farruquito.  Because we are good people, and don’t you forget it!”

            You are.  We are.  We know.  I know. Madridneeded a night like that.

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