Saturday, September 10, 2005


I’ve often suspected that Spaniards are part-vampire. Why? Because they go out of their ways to avoid sunshine. And nowhere is this more true than in the home.

If you don’t believe me, then take a midday stroll down any residential street in Madrid or Barcelona and look up. You’ll notice that the windows of most people’s homes and apartments are hermetically-sealed with heavy curtains or aluminum persiana blinds. God forbid that a sliver of sunlight should be permitted foreplay with the long-suffering ficus in that fourth floor apartment on Calle Goya!

I must admit that this practice of compulsive sun-avoidance has puzzled me since the moment I arrived in Spain. After all, if you loathe the sun, then why live in a country that averages 364.67 cloudless days per year? I’m sure that an enthusiastic partner to a house-swap could be found by selecting any name at random from the Seattle or Edinburgh phone books.

But I don’t just find this behavior puzzling. It strikes me as a bit cheeky, as well. There is—you might be interested to know—a psychological illness called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that strikes many people who live in countries with good beer. People suffering from SAD experience mild to severe depression during times of the year when the weather is especially dreary. The most common treatment for SAD is to sit in front of a “Lightbox”—i.e., a box emitting a bright light that boosts the spirits by acting as a surrogate sun.

How ironic, then, that Spain—a country that, for all intents and purposes, is a 1,000 kilometer-long Lightbox—has a population that maintains their living rooms under conditions suitable for film development. It’s a bit like the Wall Street business executive who rakes in millions, then moans about the amount of income taxes that he must pay. SAD. Very SAD indeed.

Anyway…after nearly six years of bewilderment, I couldn’t contain my curiosity any longer. I thus decided to seek answers by undertaking a scientifically-rigorous survey of every Spaniard I know—or, at least, those who were still speaking to me at the time.

And after grilling those two Spaniards, a startling trend emerged. Their responses were nearly identical—and presumably not just because they were married. Here is the transcript of our interview:

Sal: “Why do keep your curtains closed during the day?”

Spaniard: “So that the house doesn’t get hot.”

Sal: “Why don’t you just open a window?”

Spaniard: “Because the curtains are closed.”
There you have it! The greatest puzzle since Fermat’s Last Theorem has been solved! Sure, I might’ve preferred a more scholarly conclusion—like, for example, that living in light-deprived dwellings is a carry-over from Spain’s agricultural era when midday siestas were a necessity rather than a luxury—but facts are facts. Besides, the simplest answers are often the most incisive…and such is the enormity of my finding that I’ve personally spoken with well-placed people in Oslo—but, regrettably, they inform that nobody has ever won a Nobel Prize through the use of circular reasoning.

Then what, you may ask, has become of my vampire theory? Well, I’ve discarded it due to a fundamental flaw that I discovered during last night’s dinner: Vampires can’t exist in country that uses so much garlic in its cooking.
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At 12:33 AM, Anonymous Kick Shoe said...

Vacation, huh? I thought you were dead. Welcome back to the land of the living.

At 12:38 AM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Hey Kicker:

You were half-right. I got back Tuesday morning, and still feel like a zombie. Jet lag is like hangovers...the older you get, the longer they take to shake-off.

BTW...your blog-related productivity has also been a bit spotty. But I didn't think you were dead. I just assumed you were drunk.

Yeah...better drunk than dead. Definitely!


At 12:41 AM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

BTW...five Euros goes to the first person who correctly names the movie from which the above photo was taken.


At 12:45 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

welcome back, missed your wit. Love the pic of your daughter in flight...what a cutie...

p.s. Its Blackula

At 12:53 AM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...


You win the five Euros! It's under the doormat in front of my house. If you leave for the airport now, it'll be in your hot little hand by 9am tomorrow morning (Madrid time).

But enough about your hand. I'm more curious about your foot. Photos?!


PS: Apologies to all my other readers...who probably have no idea what the hell I'm talking about.

At 2:31 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

Sal, I'll be there at 9:00...does that include breakfast on the you could whip up some nifty smoked bacon and eggs with your smoker of yours...oh, wait, I've seen your results. But I will take a raincheck on that 5 euros...and don't think I'll forget. I'll be in Madrid sometime this year and if you see a tall, tattooed, redhead standing at your door with her hand out, you know its me...

At 6:04 PM, Blogger Angie said...

Sal, the new picture is great. You look sagely, watching the world from your wicker chair on your front porch. But I do miss that pink shirt! :)

At 8:03 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Thanks, long lost friend.

Good photos of me are so rare, that I must take advantage of the few that trickle in.

Speaking of photos, what happened to yours? You're not doing that anonymous blogger thing, are you?


At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Lenox said...

Hiya Sal. I, too, am away from my desk. Barbara and I went to Pamplona for a couple of days last month to see a doctor at that city's main hospital. We had a change of clothing and a coupla books in the trunk. Next thing we know, Barbara is booked in for several operations (doing fine, by the way) and - long story short - we are now semi-permanent residents of this fine town.
I suspect our son has taken advantage of the unexpected opportunity offered and has turned our home down on the costa into either a commune or (as the English tastefully say), a knock-shop. At any rate, he hasn't asked for any money.
Say, anyone know where you can buy decent tea-bags up here?

At 11:42 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Hey Lenox:

I was wondering what happened to you this summer. Glad to hear that Barbara is doing fine, but I bet you are longer to flee the rainy north for the arid southeast.

Rearding your teabag rant, I sympathize but can't help. I haven't had a decent tea-bag since my last trip to to the British colony of Javea. It was Tetley's, BTW.

Keep in touch when possible, and thanks to the monthly shipments of The New Entertainer.



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