Right Near Russia and Africa, The World
Finally, I got to go to Europe. I saved my pennies for all thirty-two years of my life. I added them up. I bought the plane ticket well in advance of the trip off a website called Canoe that puts all the ticket prices in a boat and then lets you choose one as it sends you “down the river of air travel” to wherever you want to go. I put the ticket on my bulletin board above the desk by my twin bed, and every day as I drank my instant coffee I looked at that ticket and thought to myself, “You are going to lose your mind when you finally get to the number one travel continent of all time.”
Guess what—I was right.
I went to every museum in town. They were amazing. I kept asking the docents, “Can this art really be so old?” They told me that yes, the little cards that listed the date didn’t lie. I couldn’t believe it. I saw stuff from hundreds and even thousands of years ago. I asked the docents what the oldest piece of art in the world was. None of them knew but they assured me that it existed. I asked them if painting was better, of if pottery was better. They told me that was up to me. I went into the courtyard under the kumquat trees to catch my breath.
Me? An art critic? I couldn’t believe it.
After seeing all the art in the world, I was tired, so I went to eat food and drink coffee. I got a very small coffee. I could barely fit my thumb in the cup like normal. I put my thumb in there and my thumb got stuck. I had to go to the hospital.
Guess what—my hospital visit was free.
I found out my hospital visit would be free right about two-thirds of my way through it. They were just about to smash the porcelain coffee cup I had stuck on my thumb when I found out. So I was like, “Could you fix a bunch of other problems that I have too?”
They were like, “Like what?”
And that’s when I showed them the tattoo of a duck that I’ve always wanted to get removed from my chest.
All the doctors conferred and told me I had to make an appointment. So I went out and had the best food of my life. I was eating it and I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking to myself, “If I had a restaurant like this next door to my house I’d stop eating hot dogs forever.” That was when a really grumbly old man said to me, “Caballero, sometimes even we eat hot dogs too. Come, I’ll show you.” He took me down a back alley to visit the office of the European Secret Hot Dog Confederation. They sat me down and put all these weird ornaments on me—they said the ornaments descended from “La Corona de Carne Larga.” Then they were like, “Hey, we have omelets and lentils and stuff, but sometimes we eat hot dogs too.”
This blew my fucking mind. We all had wine and whiskey and jumped up and down for three hours. They put on techno music and green flashing lights and everyone danced even though most of the guys there were like a hundred years old. That’s Europe for you—get old, never stop dancing. I recall a t-shirt that advised this sort of lifestyle back at home in the United States, and I wished to myself that us Americans could take our own advice from time to time.
Get old, never stop dancing. I don’t know what else there is.
Anyway, Europe is a really great place. It’s surprisingly curvy there. What straight roads do exist in Europe feel like the product of a whole lot of effort. Also everyone sounds funny. I had no idea what most of the people around me were saying. Europe must be a nation of speech impediments. I guess I can’t fault them for that though—most of the women there probably smoke and drink while they’re pregnant. I guess I’d probably smoke and drink all the time too if I lived in such close proximity to Russia and Africa—those places are really scary.
Tom Dibblee is Trop’s editor. His fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and his nonfiction has appeared in Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Point. He lives in Los Angeles.