Rich? Yes. Married? No. Coffee?
Do you actually make some money busking? We did sometimes. Like at those days when there were two or three cruiseships moored at the harbour of Cádiz. Floating skyscrapers full of people who had five hours to get to know the city. Our experience was that a typical cruise-passenger wouldn’t make it any further than the terraces in front of the cathedral in those five hours, where they mostly sat bored to death, waiting for their ship to leave again (most cruise-schedules weren’t adjusted to the siësta-times and none of the visitors was adjusted to the siësta-heat) and that they didn’t know what to do with their money when the shops were closed and the lunch was payed. That combination could pay you more than two hundred euro’s in an hour and a half. Sometimes. But the next day you couldn’t get any more than a sober twelve euros in coins at the very same spot. Generally we had about thirty euros to share after playing an hour though; life in Cádiz wasn’t expensive and after I payed the rent, the tapas and the Carrefour I always had something left.
I would lie if I’d say that it isn’t nice to carry a guitar case full of coins back home at times, and very practical too, but that doesn’t really happen much. There are better reasons to play in the streets though: you never know what will be crossing your way. And all kind of things do.
Like the accordeon players from Eastern Europe. When we’re playing in front of a terrace and they pass by with their instrument carried on their back, we nod to let them know that we’ll keep silence untill their three-minute performance is over and they have moved on to the next terrace with the coins that they’ve collected. The street’s from nobody. So it’s from everybody.
Normally they come and go with just a friendly “hi!”, but today a small guy with grey hair and deep wrinkles in his sun-tanned face comes over for a little chat. His accordeon is swinging a bit over his big belly and his eyes radiate pure optimism. I’d estimate his age to be sixty, but I’m not good at that. “Hola, bonita, de donde eres?” From Holland. “Aaah, que bonito! Mucho dinero ahi, pues no?” Yes, it’s a rich country. For one moment he looks interested at my hands and then he asks: “Estas casada?” No, I’m not married. That’s the end of his checklist. Northern Europe? Check. Rich? Check. Single? Check. “Café?” he asks in a way that suggests an obviousness that makes me suspect he could ask “wanna marry?” during that coffee without blinking. Or maybe that’s what he actually meant when he said “coffee?”, I think and I smile. Although I like his direct approach, I tell him that I’m not ready for coffee yet. Not by far. The light in his eyes doesn’t even diminish for a single moment when he shrugs as if he wants to say: “Alas, your decision, I tried,” and he sways his arm as a “bye” before he walks on whistling towards the next terrace that’s waiting for him. Carpe diem.
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