Sofia the Whore

The Incredible Ponce lives on a street called Calle de los 3 Peces (Street of the 3 fish – don’t ask me what the significance is), and on the corner of his street and mine there is a shop called ‘Sin Pecado’ (‘Without Sin’) which is a good kind of joke if you know him at all. On the front of his building, next to the buzzers there is a recurring piece of graffiti which no matter how many times it is removed, always returns with a vengeance that can only be fuelled by a man scorned. And hell hath no fury, believe me, like this graffiti ‘artist.’ The message has been there for as long as The Ponce has lived there, which is over a year. You’d think the perpetrator would have got bored by now after the amount of times they have erased it, painted over it, even scratched it out with what looks like a key, gouging deep lines into the plaster. But no, back it comes, every time the message as furious as before.

It simply says ‘Sofia, puta.’ (Sofia. Whore.) Then her mobile phone number, a crude price list, and the number of her flat. Further embellishments change sporadically but to paraphrase: Sofia will apparently give you a great blow job. (I have never understood why when a man directs this at a woman it is some kind of ultimate insult. Surely it’s a great skill to have.) She has a good pair of tits and she’s a fantastic lay. (again, how in anyone’s mind can this be insulting?) The full works will set you back about 30 euros. Sometimes she is simply a ‘whore’, sometimes a ‘cheap whore’ and sometimes she is the ‘Neighbourhood Whore’, and I’m never sure which is meant to be worse. For a while, just in case you weren´t sure what it looked like, there was a crudely- executed drawing that resembled that primped triangle-headed cartoon character or a hairy clam until you got close enough to… oh, I see…..

A few months ago the graffitti started to appear on a wall on the side of my building as well, so not only is Sofia denounced on her own doorstep, but also on one of the main thoroughfares into the plaza. Poor Sofia. I wonder who she is, and I wonder what she can possibly have done to unleash this level of spite. I picture Sofia as an attractive, slightly slutty South American girl, trousers tight enough for a permanent camels’ hoof, maybe a spray-on keyhole t-shirt in lemon yellow with a slogan in glitter across the nipples, long hair and pretty eyes hidden underneath too much aquamarine eye make-up. Then again, Sofia could equally be a shy introverted girl, the sort who never wears make-up, hides behind her fringe and hunches her shoulders to minimise her bust. The sort who hardly ever talks to boys and giggles when she does. Sofia could have any physical attributes you care to give her, her appearance doesn’t matter. The only incontrovertable truth is that she broke some man’s heart, and if it wasn’t his heart, then she certainly broke his balls. She may have been a real bitch. This would explain his determination to slander her for so long and so insistently. I say Poor Sofia not because I am particularly on her side, she might have done something unforgiveable. Perhaps she was married to him and she slept with his best friend, or his father, or she left him for someone else and screwed him for everything in the divorce courts. Perhaps he wasn’t very well endowed, he had premature ejaculation problems or couldn’t even get it up and she laughed at him. I have no idea. I say Poor Sofia because we all behave badly at some point, we all trample on other peoples’ pride and hurt them deeply, but not all of us have juvenile graffiti and our telephone number scratched into the brickwork of our house afterwards.

You could equally say -Poor him, after all, she must have done something pretty terrible to him for him to resort to this. On the other hand, he could be a psychotic stalker with a restraining order against him or a creepy rejected ex-boyfriend who one of these days might catch her on the doorstep coming back from the supermarket and beat her brains out, or force his way into her flat and throw her off the balcony. That sort of thing happens here with alarming regularity. There’s just something so nasty and misogynistic about the graffiti that my sympathy for him shrivels and dies.

There are days when I am tempted to reply with my own message- ‘Get a life, mate’, or ‘How old are you?’ but I know really, there’s no point. This guy may be fourteen, forty-three, or past pensionable age, but there’s no stopping him. He´s hopping mad. Entering into a wall-side debate with him is akin to starting one of those lobotomised conversations you find on women’s public toilet doors – ‘you’re a slut’ – ‘Oh yeah? well, you’re a total slag’ and so on. No point at all. The only lesson to be learned from Sofia’s dilemma is that sometimes having a febrile imagination is a curse and not a gift. Other people could quite happily walk past this graffitti every day and not see it. I not only see it but internalise it until I have invented characters, motives, victims and outcomes, an entire soap opera running for several episodes in my over-active head. And like a soap opera, there’s never any end to it. Think yourself lucky.

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