Tssst, I Am Not A Cat

14 March 2006

The Spanish hiss at you to get your attention. Instead of a "hey!" it's a "tssst!". The Cheat want them to know he's not a cat.

I am not a cat.  I do like cats.  I live in Catalunya.  But I am not a cat. 

Now that that’s settled, we can move on to the matter at hand: why do the Spanish hiss at people when they want to attract their attention?  You know what I am talking about, that clenched teeth, abrupt short burst of hissing you hear the old grannies and cabbies and everyone make when you leave the supermarket having forgotten the cheese at the checkout.

“Tssst tssst!  Has olvidado tu queso!”

Now I don’t now about you buddy, but where I come from we don’t hiss at each other.  We hiss at pets when they misbehave, maybe even at the TV as an expression of disgust or disapproval if we are feeling particularly melodramatic.  So am I the only one who finds this annoying?  Do you not feel a little irate when some civil servant dude hisses his “you can’t go in there now” at you like your name was Frisky?

I for one am not unaccustomed to being treated like an animal, for reasons that I shan’t go into here, so my reaction to this is not a reflection of snobbery or an elevated sense of self.  No friends, I just plain think its odd, that in a culture famous and proud of its ability to make generous amounts of noise; slap, kiss and body slam each other; shout orders across a classy restaurant and low-volume social events like Feria de Abril, that this sleazy hiss is a bit surprising.

What the hell is wrong with these people?  How about next time when I’m concentrating on my book in the metro, grannie just asks me if the seat next to me is taken.  Maybe it’s the fact that with my long hair and generally dishevelled appearance, I look a bit wild and uncouth, thus undeserving of courtesy.  Maybe too, I am overreacting to what amounts to nothing more than a attempt at subtle communication.

I’m missing the point.  I see that now.  The Spanish are actually telling me something, that to them, I am in fact a cat: a wandering, loud, semi-destructive and yet adorable homeless creature seeking the affections of the locals.  When I am not waking them in the middle of the night with my serenades of woe (loudly cursing my unreliable motorcycle), I can be seen sauntering blissfully in the sun looking for a comfortable warm spot or pretty females to play with.  I consume, I tend to be a loner, and I speak a language they don’t understand.

Tssst tsssst
, this is about to end.  Pay attention.  I have to tell you something.  I am not a cat. 

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