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Warheads as Wampum

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Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 27 April 2010 22:47

I was at the cashiers register at the Riba Smith Supermarket in Marbella when the man behind me in line started surveying my groceries and grunting, ambulance the way a computer sounds when its processing data. I asked him “What are you thinking?” and he revealed that he had never seen frozen soybeans before. He said they were something like peas, only bigger and “more juicy.”

...he looked at me the way, I imagine, cowboys did when first receiving wampum from the Indians

“And this?” he asked, pointing at my two bulbs of fennel. “Does it have good taste?”

“Very rich,” I responded.

I tried to leave the parking lot of Riba Smith, which by the way is a total clusterfuck, and the scruffy guy who had been guarding my car came over just as I realized I didn’t have any change to give him. In the US, we keep change in the car for parking meters but in Panama I usually try to keep some coins lying around for traveling salesmen and, in this case, watchimen who feel entitled to fifty cents or so.

The concept is corrupt sounding to a Westerner: the need to compensate someone for not fucking up your car. While the unwritten agreement of watchimen would technically work on any valuable asset (give me a few coins so I don’t mess up your jet, house, children…etc.), it is most commonly in Panama parking lots where they’ll tap your window as you’re backing out, this until you compensate.

“Do you know what? I have just realized that I do not have simple money in the car,” I frowned.

I fished around the center console until I found and pulled out three individually wrapped Warheads, a curiously sour candy which I was given a few months ago. I handed the man the Warheads and he looked at me the way, I imagine, cowboys did when first receiving wampum from the Indians as if to say, “what the…?”

“It is candy,” I said. “Eat it.”

The man put one in his mouth and instead of driving off, I waited for his reaction.

“Oh,” he cried. “Oh, it itches. It itches very hard!!!”

When the initial sour shell of the Warhead wore off after about ten seconds, the man thanked me with an “oficial.” He then said something, which I couldn’t determine to be English or Spanish, and not wanting to prolong the interaction I said, “Yes. Si.”

He repeated the words, something about a sneaker, but this time I said, “Ahhhh, OK,” and drove off.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 April 2010 22:52