Romance is a mystery everyone longs for but few know how to navigate. That's where Poptek's Andrew Ingram comes to help. A world traveler and a world reknown lover, your questions will finally have some answers as Ingram shares his vast wisdom of the wonder of when a man becomes enravished in the beauty of a woman.
Dating Dayton (Vol. 2): Andrew and the Catalan.
We met in the patio bar of the Hotel Neri. Yes, I lavishly take care of myself when I travel. I had just made it to Barcelona, still distraught over losing my one true love, Jeanette. Jeanette Picard. But that was three hours ago. It was time to move on with my life.
I was in Barcelona to attend El Clásico. That is the heated and annual football match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. I can describe it as heated as the two teams represent not only the two largest cities in Spain, and the two most dominant teams in La Liga, but also two different political ideologies present in Spain. Barcelona represents Catalunya, or the Catalans, an ethnic group born and based in Northeast Spain. Catalunya recently voted to seceed from Spain to form their own country. We'll all see how that goes. Real Madrid represents nationalistic Spain, who at their worst points under Francisco Franco banned the Catalan language and even executed rival Catalans.
El Clásico was in a few days, I first had to check in to my hotel and what better way to decompress from jetlag and a failed, cross-cultural, almost-engagement than to get a drink in the hotel bar.
I don't "drink", by the way. With a face like I have, drunkeness is too great of a risk of being taken advantage of. So when I travel, I have found that Coca-Cola tastes so much sweeter than in the States.
In romance, there has to be a commonality that brings two people together. For us it was that we were two attractive, eligible people, in the same expensive hotel bar who enjoyed over-priced, non-alcoholic drinks. Her name was Inés. Inés Siempre. And she could win La Señorita España pageant in any year that she competed. There was no way that I, nor any heterosexual male, could have missed her.
She caught my eye, not only by her exotic beauty, but in the way she actually demanded my attention. I had already noticed her as soon as I walked in to the bar. She looked my way from across the patio and motioned for me to come sit at her table. In the aggressiveness of her affection I just thought that, "Spanish girls really are as saucey as advertised". And in my hurried pace to accept her invitation, I smoothly caught the waiter to order another of what she was having. She likes Sprite.
Inés' advances were surely surprising but my charm was trained and prepared for this moment. Men you have to be ready for moments like this. I cannot stress that enough.
Pretty soon after I sat down with Inés, we began sipping our drinks and playing this charming game where she would go from one table to the next, never sitting still and moving as soon as I followed and sat down. It was quite a turn-on how "hard to get" and yet assertive she was playing. Our conversations oscillated between crescendoes and whispers, all depending on how close she would have me approach. We covered so much in so little time. From politics to God to Spanish economics to her family and her Catalunian people, we had an ease and openess between us that allowed us to discuss anything at any time without any fear.
Inés was an absolute celebrity, maybe not to the rest of the world but in the way I saw her. Though I should not have lost track of another celebrity, a real superstar, who I passed upon entering the patio bar. Loitering near the fringes of the bar, like most thugs do, was the famous French striker in town playing for Real Madrid (and who shall remain unnamed due to pending investigations related to legal charges brought by other women not named Inés). I mean I didn't really miss him upon my arrival. I was at first star struck when I saw him. Like most awestruck experiences, even involving icons you may absolutely despise, all criticisms temporarily disappear replaced by fanboyish nervousness and the overwhelming need to get a picture. I didn't though. All those feelings of awe were happening in the same moment when Inés was capturing my heart. So I rushed right past the thug and paid him no attention because I had a beautiful woman to woo.
All of this was not lost on me though. Famous soccer players in the same hotel. Firey spanish women. All of this within 20 minutes of check-in. Spain was turning out to be everything I dreamt it to be.
But it didn't turn out to be a good dream.
To all my women readers, I will let you in on a secret that most men may not admit to. We all have insecurities. If your man acts like he doesn't, well then you need to dump him and find one of us shy, sensitive, bookish types. We are the real deal.
As exciting as my new found relationship was with Inés, she was way out of my league, and every doubt I had about myself was being alarmed.
Those alarms went through the roof when the scene changed and the Frenchman came over to our table. Dating Advice #4: Determination is 90% of any lasting relationship . . . that and avoiding restraining orders. My disdane for the Striker returned as I questioned him (in slow, rough Spanish) as to why he was invading our space. Inés obviously had a history with him as the argument transitioned from me yelling at him to them yelling at each other. Dating Advice #5: Never get involved with someone who has been involved with any player from Real Madrid. The type of players Real Madrid attracts all weave a tight web of restraining orders and legal battles and it's just too much to navigate. Our argument turned into a tussle between the American and the Frenchman. Thankfully I didn't contract any STDs from the punch to the gut I landed. It did land us both in jail though. Turns out Inés had already alerted the authorities concerning the Striker before I had even arrived. Our table-to-table game was hot, but was really her attempt to avoid eye contact and close proximity with the Frenchman. I felt used. But oh well, she was really pretty and worth the embarrassment.
Now if you have never been in a Spanish police van, it is truely an experience. They are short and skinny, with a really annoying, high-pitched, rhythmic siren. I have to say that the experience didn't invoke any fear of being disciplined. Rather, I felt like I was in a Monty Python sketch. The clowns never appeared though. And on the ride to jail I did get the Frenchman's autograph. We actually talk on the telly once a month. Though I told him that I won't testify for him in a court of law. He's famous but he's very very guilty.
Dating Advice #6. Never go to Spain. It looks just like Florida and Spanish women just aren't worth the emotional ride they take you on.