Monday, November 17, 2008

Finding and leaving Vivaldo (bus-cab-scream-breathe)

I had been anxious walking with Big as he cruised his neighborhood, acknowledged all the right folk and bartered for better prices on concrete, nails and lathe. I wanted to be in Pituba on time. I didn’t quite understand which bus or stop was the right one for me. I hoped that it would all become self evident along the way.

As it worked, the bus was much slower than I had imagined. My phone was inoperable, so calling Henrique was a non reality. By the time we hit Avenida João VI, which I knew began the beginning of the hamlet, it was a few minutes shy of nine. I hoped that it would fall into place as we drove on. I asked the driver and he was somewhat clueless. Other passengers interjected their thoughts, but it was a blur to everyone. I kept going thinking that I would see a landmark, just ahead. In my stress, I had botched the name of the cul-de-sac that Vivaldo lived on.

Finally at 9:05 with nothing quite adding up, I jumped off the bus, flagged a cab and asked for help. He was local to the area, a bit spacey and had no idea what I was talking about. After we circled a few blocks he agreed to let me use his cell. He dialed the number and started to talk to one of the housekeepers when Vivaldo obviously grabbed the phone on the other end and barked directions at him. His neck hairs tensed and we sped off. It took him some time after we came into the hood. The guard at the gate recognized me and we drove down the block. It was almost 9:30. I heard the dogs barking behind the gate when we drove up.

Vivaldo was already at the curb looking out for us. Immediately he had decided that I had found one of those merciless cabs who had just taken me for a ride. He ripped a new asshole and gave him a colon cleanse for my driver, who initially was apologetic, then defensive, and finally brutally hostile. The Latins' were in session, and it wasn’t pretty. I worried for this man, who rightfully bitched of failing health. I thought this was not the catalyst for an episode or a bad memory of Scott that needed to be the denouement of my morning or my new acquaintanceship. I just wanted the cab to drive away.

One of the housekeepers pulled on Vivaldo’s arm, as the cab cursed, took the three point turn too quickly and sped off. Immediately Vivaldo was protective and apologetic of me. Later, he demanded specifics. He told me that I had already missed lunch. “Lunch?” I asked. It seems that even though I had shared my schedule with him, he had planned a luncheon last Saturday with two eminent Anthropologists he thought I should meet, but I never telephoned. “Oy vey, here we go….” So when we went back to the cab incident, I was honest and anxious as I shared the details. He told me that I needed to learn the city; No… “I needed to stay here with him, read, study and ask questions. That was it!

--When did I have to go to NY?”

“: Today, no that wouldn’t work. Couldn’t I stay on?” “Boy, did I wish….” Well, he decided we just had to get to work, time was passing quickly. We sat down and were served juice and coffee before I went upstairs to the library and he retired to his office. Before we split he finally explained the relationship he had to the comely middle aged Blonde who had been and still was ever present. I had thought that she was a cousin, sister or some relation. No, she was the widow of his cousin’s friend up from São Paulo. He had thought that her mourning should happen somewhere else to clear her head. She had spent two months with him, and would leave in a few days.

I got lost in my studies upstairs, candy all around me. It was true, we both saw books the way most men see porn. I was beside myself and barely knew where to start. Especially since most everything was written in Portuguese, then French, with a small minority of titles in English. Hours later he called up to me with a restless throaty yell. He was hungry, wasn’t I? “Come down so we can discuss lunch.” I shut the books, closed the sliding glass doors and locked up before I climbed down the stairs. As I expected a double Scotch neat and a few beefy snacks were waiting us in the sitting room. He asked if I had any special dining requests? “We eat simply here, whatever they fix is fine, it is always a surprise.” I thought that a bit curious since he was a Culinary Anthropologist, but I stayed quiet and went with it.

We were four for lunch, his cousin, the widow, Vivaldo and me. We had a simple meal of a macaroni salad, some simply cooked vegetables, grilled chicken, rice, Farofa, and some stewed fish. He opened a round Argentinean Cab for he and I, while his cousin drank coke. In the end, the widow joined us in the Cab. After lunch he told me of his family’s business, Jurabeba Leão do Norte. I acknowledged that I was familiar with the history. Consequently he felt that I needed a bottle to remember him by. We sipped this bitter that was alleged to aid and strengthen my member whenever needed. Whatever. Then he had them bring us some Nocello and coffee with the sorvete we had for dessert.

It wasn’t three o’clock and I was swimming in the sauce, trying to keep my tenses straight and not make a bigger ass of myself. We decided that it was better to end our session here. He sketched out his summer, our winter and we made tentative plans to get together in May or June. His driver picked me up, and we drove north along the coast to Zeno’s to get my bags, say goodbye to Zeno, João, Itapúa, and actually Brazil.

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