How I Spent My Summer Vacation (So Far)

hello dali

  1. Got on plane with baby
  2. Inserted baby into industrial-grade bassinet with text on it implying that child itself, not merely conveyance, had become property of American Airlines and should not be removed from cabin
  3. Slept very little, pondered wisdom of said ordinance
  4. Arrived in Madrid
  5. Carried vast array of infant-sustaining equipment, clothing, emergency supplies, stroller, etc etc etc up same street four times asking increasingly bemused Spaniards “Donde esta la calle [literally a block to the left/right/left/right]?”
  6. Continued to sleep very, very little, fantasized about paella
  7. Arrived at AirBnb obviously owned/rented by bachelor of at most 25 years, had series of pleasant conversations with him on WhatsApp, discovered WhatsApp key to communication across several industries in Spain
  8. Baby-wrangled, pondered fate of young parents in country where restaurants literally do not open for dinner until 8:30, visited five distinct comic book stores within three blocks of flat. Failed to acquire paella
  9. Carried baby on front of person facing outward for first time, received many presumably complimentary remarks in language do not speak nearly as well as thought did
  10. Bought chorizo sandwich at bar where baby was source of much fascination to regular patron with no front teeth who was availing self of slot machine in corner and who tried to give parenting advice, despite hearing explanation “Por favor, mi Español es muy malo” and his saying, “Ah, only English?” and continuing to speak Spanish despite this; bartender smilingly gave him the finger for reasons did not and now will never understand
  11. Learned to lisp, failed to acquire paella for second time
  12. Failed to protect only child from middle-aged lady janitor who said “Que linda!” and kissed him before knew what was happening, said “grathiath” instead
  13. Saw Guernica, cried
  14. Saw three Dalís have wanted to see entire life
  15. Learned to say “Mi ethpotha tiene theliaca” from nice lady at cafeteria (not the same thing) who sold whatever she had that Pam could eat, including delicious olives, potato salad, frittata and mushrooms, none of which were seasoned remotely like anything had ever eaten before. Still no paella
  16. Slept slightly more
  17. Did not stop cafe staffperson from taking flagrant advantage of language barrier to pretend she had heard self order three pastries instead of one on grounds that feigned misunderstanding left self with two additional pastries
  18. Took baby to Museo del Prado
  19. Baby extra charming, demonstrated that his two main words (“oooo,” “laaaa”), while they do not make sense in sequence in English, cause stone-faced elderly woman security guards predisposed to dislike Americans to burst into smiles, pinch fat little legs, and say “hola!” back to him
  20. Discovered source of baby’s happiness: Had shat onesie, leggings, self to extravagant, unnecessary degree
  21. Watched child take lunch in room full of achingly beautiful El Greco annunciation paintings, reflected on degree to which said child appeared to be mocking self in complex fashion with demonstration of contrast; bag of adorable, beshitted garments; saintly wife
  22. Dragged exhausted wife, noisy infant to Goya’s Black Paintings, Bosch room, cried some more
  23. Finally ate some goddamn paella at the museum restaurant
  24. Regretted above
  25. Watched in joy-horror as baby rolled back to front for first time ever two moths ahead of schedule 
  26. Plotted acquisition of wine

Author: samthielman

Sam Thielman is a reporter and critic based in Brooklyn, New York. His blog is, his twitter handle is @samthielman, and if you can't find him you should check The Strand.

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