James and I met Rosina and Rebbecca in Tae-kwon-do class, in a dojo around the corner from our hostel near Plaza Dos de Mayo in Malasaña. Malasaña is a trendy neighborhood named after Manuela Malasaña, a 15-year-old girl who resisted being raped by French troops in 1808 and was therefore executed. I don’t know when it became trendy.

James and I were fond of making lists when we arrived in Spain. Here’s one:

  1. Live healthy
  2. Read
  3. Buy a basketball (where?)
  4. Get jobs (acting, meet Almodovar, etc.)
  5. Only Spanish girls (must learn language)

The Tae-kwon-do studio was called “El Dragón del Sol,” and run by a Master Han. Master Han spoke little to no Spanish but commanded respect in his dojo. Master Han did this by kicking in the neck anybody who stepped out of line or disrespected his Masterness. We felt that Tae-kwon-do would, to a degree, take care of our “Live healthy” goal. Classes were held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2:30, right in the middle of the siesta hour, explaining why the only students in Master Han’s class were James, Rosina, Rebecca and I along with a group of Korean expatriates. Classes were held in Korean and occasionally Master Han would try to speak Spanish to the four Americans, with little success.

“No chistes. No chistes,” he roared, as James and I, like any self-respecting children of the 80s, demonstrated the “Crane” technique from The Karate Kid. “Respeto!” As James and I fought to compose ourselves, Master Han completed two roundhouse kicks, one to my neck, the other to James’ sternum, James’ height being an obstacle insurmountable even by the high standards (and kicks) of Master Han. For the duration of our first class, James and I would behave and again did our best to stifle laughs when Master Han would deliver another devastating kick to the neck of one of the Koreans.

This class focused on punching:

Hana!

Tul!

Set!

Net!

Tasot!

Yosot!

Ilgob!

Yudol!

Ahop!

Yeol!

We were exhausted by lesson’s end. And while “Choices for Healthy Living” (we’d amended our goal to an ethos) had been checked off the list for the day, we decided to strike up a conversation with the two American girls with the green belts who looked wildly attractive, effectively throwing rule 5 out the window. We convinced the two girls to join us after class for cocktails.

Rosina and Rebbecca had recently moved to Madrid, too, six weeks before James and I arrived. We were intimidated by their green belts, which signified that they were “plants growing their leaves,” at least that’s what they said. James and I, as novices, started out with the ignominious white belt, signifying we were “innocent,” in addition to having no fighting skills whatsoever, other than being able to count to ten in Korean, which isn’t much.

The two girls had, as I had, spent a year in Madrid on a study abroad program during their junior years in college and fell in love with the city. Rosina had long red hair, almost too long. Rosina was almost too much everything. Her nose bordered on a kind of Bob Hope ski-jump nose, but fell just short, beguilingly short. Her eyes too, splashed with strokes of blue and green looked almost freakish, but again, came up short of freakish and had a cat-like quality. Her breasts bordered on the too-big, her tan bordered on the too-tan, her comportment, almost too-flirty. She grew on me gradually, then breakneck. Rosina enlisted astrology often, her favorite holiday was Halloween (her Mom was a witch, she claimed), she never learned to swim and toward the end of our relationship, she’d put a knife to my throat and start pushing. At first I thought she was shy, which true in a way, but the reality was the Rebbecca was devastatingly unshy.

“If you think we’re going to go back to your shitty hostel and fuck you, you’re still paying for these drinks, but we’re not and you’ve got another thing coming,” she said, after countless cocktails at a Sidra bar, still in our Tae-kwon-do gear, something I felt empowering.

“Think,” James said.

“Huh?”

“You misspoke or you don’t know the expression. It’s ‘You’ve got another think coming.’ It’s okay, even Judas Priest misuses it.”

“Who’s he?”

“Were you raised in a bubble?”

“San Pedro.”

“So, yes,” Rosina chimed in.

“Master Han isn’t the only person who’ll kick you in the neck, my pretty peliroja.” There’s nothing like a girlfight, or even the prospect of a girlfight to get men riled up. We had had plenty of cocktails and I suggested that we might all be more comfortable at our hostel where we had wine in a box and some music.

“Didn’t I just say we weren’t going to fuck you,” Rebbecca reminded me.

“What if I made love to you,” James asked, I thought cleverly. It was uttered with such innocence. James was tender that way and I mean it.

“You Texans are unbelievable.”

“Unbelievable in our sensuality?”

“No, in your idiocy.”

“That’s all men, Rebecca,” Rosina reminded her.

Rebecca was indeed naïve, but she was put together so well you overlooked it. Even in a crappy, sweaty dobok, the sartorial requirement for Tae-kwon-doers, she looked like she could insinuate herself anywhere. She was part Croatian, part Basque and all San Pedro. “Pedroids, we’re called.” Like Rosina, Rebecca was beautiful, but in a more glamorous way. She is the girl that guys refer to when they make that outrageous hourglass motion with their hands. Her Spanish was the best out of all of ours, and she even enlisted the telltale lisp into her linguistic repertoire. ‘Barcelona’ became ‘Barthalona’, ‘cerveza’ became ‘cervetha’, ‘sí’, became ‘thi’, and tho on. It drove James crazy. Later, when she would hold forth in Spanish, and he’d heard just about enough of the lisp, he would get in her face, perform a long, drawn out raspberry, then usually recite some Master P lyrics. Master P was a steadying force in James’s life, more so than myself, his family, God, anybody. Master P grounded James. But now, on first meeting, I think he thought Rebecca’s lisp was exotic.

We finished another round of drinks and after a few more attempts to swindle these girls back to our hostel, we ended our little party with kisses on both cheeks from both of the girls, “an extremely minor orgy,” James pointed out. At least over here, you get a kiss. It’s wonderful. No matter what kind of begrimed boor you are, no matter if you wake up alone with no wife to kiss, no husband to kiss, no nothing. All you have to do is meet somebody and instead of that cold, sacrosanct and generally stateside handshake, you get a kiss. It’s perfect. We parted ways, James and I heading back to our hostel, on the way to which, we were violently attacked, set upon by refuse from the gutters of the Gran Via.

I always thought of Europe as an inordinately civilized place, a place that learned something from centuries of senseless suffering, scorched earth, Inquisition, fixed bayonets and countless wars of varying degrees of foolishness. I thought of tulips in Amsterdam, innocuous teas in London, cuckoo clocks in Geneva, and beguiling Flamenco in Madrid. What a crap thing to think. Nobody learns anything, nobody and nothing changes—we only pretend to change. The tulips are laced with arsenic, the tea is thrown in your face, scalding, bubbling your skin, the cuckoo clock comes crashing down on your skull and the Flamenco is danced on your ribs. But in part, James and I were to blame: If you’re donning the white belt of the self-defense novice, it behooves you to change into something less targetable before you hit the streets. That’s not Europe, that’s anywhere.

A group of four, maybe five kids around high school age approached James and me along the perimeter of Malasaña. They were drunk, like us, and were passing a two liter bottle of orange Fanta that must have been mixed with vodka. Nobody is ever attacked by dudes drinking just orange soda—that wouldn’t sit right with the cosmos. My Spanish was pretty good and I heard the boys remark on the fact that we looked like fags and then something about “cinturones blancas,” or white belts. I said to James, “Look out. These little bastards are going to try and fuck with us, I think.” James snarled, “Whatever.” There was a good thirty feet between us and the knot of rambunctious street kids. One of them was wearing a shirt that read, “Queen Bitch.” I thought of David Bowie, then how it was an improbability that the kid even knew how vampy and feminine his shirt was, then I thought to run.

“James…run!” I did an about face and started off in the opposite direction. James, steeled by alcohol and forgetful of the semiotics behind the wearing of a white belt, charged toward them. Goddamnit, I thought, then said. I did another about face and ran toward the mess. James was already on the ground, having been kicked in the groin. The Queen Bitch was kicking him in the head. I assumed “Naranhi Junbi Sogi,” or “The Command Position,” trying to remember to release some of the air in my lungs, but not all. I felt ridiculous and wish I had just rushed them ala a Texas street fight. As I stood with my feet shoulder length apart, focused on my breathing, one of the kids threw a rock at my face that hit me square in the nose. Blood rushed down my face and I was blinded by my tears. I stayed in the Command Position, wobbling. Then came a flying kick to my sternum from one of the sauced-up tatterdemalions. I went down hard. I never threw a punch. I didn’t even have the chance to count to ten in Korean. The last thing I remember before losing consciousness was being choked.

I woke up to James wiping my face with the arm of his dobok. I still couldn’t see anything but I could hear James.

“I thought you meant run toward them, T. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. God, you look like shit. Do you want to go to a hospital? C’mon. I’ll help you.” James tried to pick me up, but I was too heavy. He heaved me up for a moment, then we both collapsed again to the pavement in front of a sex shop, groaning, wheezing and broken. I sat crumpled in his lap, a huge vent from the sex shop gushed fetid air scented with fruity sanitizer out onto the street. James rubbed my head and apologized some more as sex exhaust flooded our nostrils.

 



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Described as an "up-and-coming humorist" by Esquire, TYLER STODDARD SMITH's works have been featured in: The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes, The Best American Fantasy, Esquire, Meridian, Pindeldyboz, The Big Jewel, Yankee Pot Roast, Word Riot, Barrelhouse, Monkeybicycle, and McSweeney's, among others. Visit his website at: http://tylerstoddardsmith.wordpress.com

39 responses to “Queen Bitch”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    This is great, Tyler. Your descriptions of the girls are priceless.
    So many things about this made me laugh.
    I was sure it was ‘another think coming’ but apparently it is actually, ‘thing.’ Who knew?

  2. Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

    Thanks, Zara….but it IS “think,” I think. Anybody have any proof? Now I’m confused and don’t know what to do with my life!!

    • Zara Potts says:

      I feel exactly the same way! I’m so confused. I’m sure that Simon Smithson or Gina Frangello can shed some light on this…. Please? Anyone? Tyler and I don’t know what to do with ourselves…

      • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

        Oh, this is just great. Zara, I feel like we’re trapped in linguistic purgatory. With the sky on fire thousands of miles away and the gulf coast belching out apocalyptic pestilence, maybe It’s indeed safer just to sit here in the interworld and wait until we’re rescued by the ghost of E.B. White (or the Smithson/Frangello semantic rescue brigade). It’s cold and I’m frightened…

        • Zara Potts says:

          WHY isn’t anyone helping us, Tyler?
          WHY????

          Maybe it’s because I confused the saying ‘row to hoe..’ with ‘road to hoe..’

          I’m cold and frightened too. I think we should light a fire.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          The ghost of E.B. White is waiting for James Patterson to come out of his house – which he has to do sometime.

          In the meantime, it’s ‘another thing’ right? I’m so sure it is. But that being said, ‘another think coming’ would be a charming piece of wordplay.

      • Reuben Helms says:

        Looks like it’s a “think” (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/another-think-coming.html), but I’ve only ever heard “another thing coming”, but with the same meaning. It’s another thing, not the same as the first thing represented in the first think, and look out, here it comes *pow*.

        BTW, nice piece. The TKD reference caught my eye. I’ve been doing it for a year and a bit, and I always remove my belt outside of the training hall. Keeps folks guessing. 🙂

  3. Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

    Hooray! Now, for all “intensive” purposes (I am rue to admit I just learned it was “intents and…” waaaaay to late in life) we have soared upward toward a higher rung of linguistic illumination. Smiley face.

  4. Simon Smithson says:

    “Master P was a steadying force in James’s life, more so than myself, his family, God, anybody.”

    Then James is walking the true path of enlightenment and illumination.

    Ha ha ha ha… he thought you meant run towards.

    I’m sorry.

    Violence and injury aside, that’s fucking funny.

  5. Greg says:

    Holy shit, Tyler. What a turn of fucking events. So well written… yeesh.

    I have a green belt, by the way. Next time we see each other, keep that in mind.

    • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

      Boose, I just can’t take you seriously when you’re nude on that horse. But then, I don’t take alot of things seriously, which is why I often end up knocked out in front of sex shops.

      On a side note, you know how there’s always some asshole trying to swim the Bering Strait or to Cuba or across the English Channel? Well, you’ve given me an idea. For my next project (which will, I imagine, take significant grant money–are you listening Macarthur???) I am going to ride a horse from Texas to Reykjavik. You can come along if you want. It’ll be like Thelma & Louise but on horses, in the Atlantic and also we are dudes. But pretty much exactly the same.

      • Greg says:

        I am so in. Instead of cliff, though, we will jump with our horses off of a significant waterfall while humming the Bonanza theme song. Also, we will be holding hands.

        • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

          Our new book of poetry: Jumping Horses From Significant Waterfalls.

          fortune smiled, the day we filed the Ponderosa claim,
          hand to hand
          and
          hoof to hoof
          we leapt,
          hydrodynamic
          in equine grace.
          Iceland babes are hot.

          Eat your heart out Auden. Can we get Pushcarts from the TNB comment section?

        • Greg says:

          Soon to be a major motion picture trilogy, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Melissa Etheridge as the horses.

  6. Joe Daly says:

    Really fun story to read, ending notwithstanding. Like others have said, the ass-kicking at the end was a brutally unanticipated turn of events. I had assumed that the story was named after Rebecca. You had me hook, line, and sinker!

    Good stuff.

    • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

      Thanks, Joe! Rebecca, it turns out, is not a queen bitch, at least no more than I. But she did stab me in the throat. Which is kinda shitty.

  7. Matt says:

    This is exactly why, at my dojo, we explicitly tell our students not to be going out in public in their uniforms and belts–it really cuts down the chances of getting the crap kicked out of you in front of a sex shop.

  8. James D. Irwin says:

    Oh man, this was beyond awesome.

    I’m pretty sure it is another ‘thing’ coming though. Maybe it’s a US/UK thing though. Like Judas Priest I hail from the land of scalding teas…

    I had a white belt once. I never progressed because I was unfit, undedicated and the friend I got lifts with emmigrated. And that’s how I came to be a pacifist…

    • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

      ‘Cause you’re the Green Manalishi with the two-pronged crown!!! (you have to imagine me singing this in assless chaps and leather and spikes on a motorcycle in that Rob Halford squeal, though–okay, maybe you don’t.)

      Thanks for the nice comment!

      • James D. Irwin says:

        haha. I wrote a novel last year that heavily references that song (well, the Fleetwood Mac version).

        I do love a bit of Priest though. If me, you, Matt and Greg got together I reckon together we could Take on All the World…

        • tyler stoddard smith says:

          World domination!!! I just threw a dart at my map…alas, it hit right above Nova Scotia. You gotta start somewhere, I suppose.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Canada, right? Easy.

          Neil Young’s one of those pacifist types whilst Geddly Lee and Lifeson are ageing nerds. Peart’s a big fucker, but there should be enough of us to overwhelm him.

          Then all we have to do is sneak up behind Randy Bachman, jump him and shout ‘GUESS WHO!’ and then start takin’ care of business. When he begs for us to stop we’ll tell him he ain’t seen nothin’ yet, kick him in the head again and we’re done.

          Where are we going next?

        • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

          All I know is that I, along with everybody else, is working for the weekend. But you ain’t seen nu nu nu nu nuthin’ yet…

  9. As Master P himself would say: Ughhhh! The voice, the pace, the details, the plot. All absolutely perfect. I love this. I actually had to read your bio because if you didn’t have impressive publication credits (which you certainly do), I would have known the whole world is a fucking bullshit fixed lie and I would have stopped behaving immediately and fucked people in the supermarket. So it’s win/win for us both.

    • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

      It’s nice to know that Master P is still culturally relevant. What’s unfortunate, Peter, is that you’ve ruled out supermarket fucking. I somehow feel complicit in limiting your sexual exploits to other, less subversive venues for love-making, i.e., gas stations, the mall, Six Flags, etc. Please don’t put that on me…It’s too much for one man to bear!

  10. Malorie says:

    Ever make it past the white belt Tyler?

    Awesome story by the way, I felt like I was a 3rd Power Ranger, but landed on my ass in a booze-soaked robe.

    • tyler stoddard smith says:

      Thanks, Malorie. Alas, the white belt was it, unless you count my brown belt I got at Macy’s (at least I can use IT as a weapon).

  11. Tyler, I’m poopies! You entertained/educated me with perfect writing and I repaid you by throwing my own social cowardness on your back! While I can’t promise I’ll sodomize a coy-yet-definitely-giving-signals senior citizen in aisle 6 by the canned beets just yet, I’ll tell you what I will do. In physical homage to you and your ass-kicking literary skills, today, July 16th 2010, I will violate 3 unripened cantaloupes. Word is bond.

    • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

      Playa, you know that’s all I’d ever ask of a fella. Just be careful–cantaloupes are notorious sluts and will often lie about their STD status (don’t get me started on the cantaloupian herpes I received from a street stall in Alphabet City).

  12. Marni Grossman says:

    “‘What if I made love to you,’ James asked, I thought cleverly. It was uttered with such innocence. James was tender that way and I mean it.”

    I loved this line. Funny and also nostalgic. Great read.

  13. hoc bong says:

    hoc bong…

    […]Tyler Stoddard Smith | Queen Bitch | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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