Maybe I should have been flattered, but …

This bit-o-memoir really gets inserted in last week’s story about meeting Herois do Mar and The Sound.

When I left my hotel to meet Roman and the band, I called a cab and went down to the street to wait for it. There were several women on the street in front of the hotel, so I didn’t feel too nervous standing outside waiting.

I was dressed as if I’d stepped out of a Stop Making Sense video: long, wide-shouldered suit jacket over a long, full skirt. A foolish look, to be sure, but mine at the time. It did not at all match the outfits of the ladies who were waiting with me. They all wore short, form-fitting dresses, lots of spangly jewelry, high heels, big hair. I was thinking they were headed to a party and thinking I should probably be dressed at least a little more like them to go to dinner with the Herois. Form-fitting was, obviously, not my style back then, and the women’s dresses were far shorter and tighter than anything I’d wear even today, but they all looked cute and much more night-on-the-town than I did.

We weren’t the only people out and about, of course. The hotel was on a big avenue, so there were plenty of people walking and driving past. A couple of men walked over and picked up women, walking away arm in arm with them, and I wished I’d thought to ask Roman to come pick me up at the hotel since I had no idea where I was going.

And then a man walked up to me. He said something, and I shook my head, said I didn’t speak Portuguese. He looked very surprised, but tried again.

“I give you two thousand,” he said in shaky English.


“Two thousand. I give you two thousand. Good price.”

Oh really? Oh, really?” I took a quick step back from him, told him to get away from me, said (loudly, so anyone nearby would get the picture, too) that I was a tourist. He backed off, saying something that was maybe an apology, maybe just declaring me an insane, shrieking harpy. The other women laughed — at him, at me? Probably both.

My cab came shortly after that. I was still in a huff — really the best word for it. The driver spoke English — of course? — and asked what was up with me, so I told him. He laughed. “It’s your hotel,” he said. “You stay on the third or fourth floor, yes?” He nodded when I confirmed his guess. Turns out the first and second floors were a brothel. Right. A brothel. And the pretty women in their tight dresses? Yes, of course. They were prostitutes.

At the restaurant, I turned my anger into a funny story, told the group what had happened. Everyone laughed. Carlos Maria, laughing, said I should have been flattered. “Two thousand escudos is a lot of money,” he said. “Mosts girls on the street only get a few hundred.” Everyone laughed at that, too.

So I guess I should have been flattered. The charmer on the street thought I was enough of a prize to offer me Emperor’s Club prices. Well, maybe, I should have been flattered, but somehow …


is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers.

3 thoughts on “Maybe I should have been flattered, but …

  1. That’s a great story. How did you end up at that hotel, by the way? That would be a somewhat startling thing to learn about lodgings.

    Your story also reminds me that I have a story of my own to share about being propositioned. I was 17 at the time, and, as you might expect, not terribly flattered…


  2. If I recall correctly, I was sent to that hotel by the information booth people at the train station. Their idea of a joke, maybe? Bad, bad joke, if so! Or maybe they thought I was looking to set up shop in beautiful downtown Lisboa? Happily, the people at the front desk marked me for a tourist and gave me a room I wouldn’t have to work for!


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