Bad Times in Buenos Aires
‘Do you want to be more thin?’, she asked with malicious feeling.
It was a shot across the bows and I was manoeuvred into a rapid and unconvincing defence.
‘No I do not! I’m happy as I am thank you!’
‘Good!’, Sylvia made a smile to convey that she did not believe me. She gave a patronising little shrug – ‘if you are happy, it’s fine’ – and I felt a surge of hatred towards her. There had been no chocolate cake on hand today so she was trying to beat me some other way. I pondered acts of violence that included taunting her about that extra kilo, the lack of boyfriend. She would be easy to hurt.
Actually we say “thinner”, not “more thin”, I said, aware that it was not nearly revenge enough. Sylvia removed her infuriating smile and bestowed it on a child vendor who had stopped at out table and was winding up something with a look of intense concentration. Poor men, women and children circulated around the cafes of Buenos Aires selling all manner of curious objects at suspiciously low prices.
‘What have you got for us?’ Sylvia asked the child.
‘A toaster’, he said
‘A crazy toaster’
The boy released a blue plastic box with yellow feet on to the table and the three of us watched it as it waddled across the wooden surface, yellow smiling toast popping up and down, past Sylvia’s coffee towards her thin bejewelled hand. The hand hovered spiderously, then pounced on its Taiwanese prey.
‘Nice’, said Sylvia. She handed the boy a dollar and dropped the toy into her handbag where it paddled impotently against the leather until the cord ran out.
Miranda France, ‘Bad Times In Buenos Aires’