When we liked girls, that is, in the ninetiesWhat separated us from them was a very great distance: the word. Now, boys and girls are only separated by the Civil Code, practically. Before, there was a lot of obsession with the word, the lip, what to say. Movies were made on what to say, manuals on what to say, and great theories about what the other would say later, which was never ‘yes’, but something more beautiful. Thanks to new technologies, today flirting comes out to give us back, there are plenty of words everywhere and you can say them to yourself alone at home. With Tinder, it is enough to click and know the law to link what you need in the 21st century. That is the advance.
When we liked girls, in the nineties, there were male models, not in muscles, but in words. I was Woody AllenSure, he was the funniest of flirts, someone who could do something as incredible as talking to a girl while walking down the street. Think about it: it is impossible to talk and walk down the street at the same time, it only happens in the films of Woody Allen and in those of his imitators. There was also ‘Before Dawn’, from Richard Linklater, where Ethan Hawkne I kept saying funny things to Julie delpy, as if Hawke needed phrases. But talking a lot to flirt could mean the opposite: that you got together to talk a lot, to hear your intelligence and humor, to make the conversation and not love. And there was – to name just three – ‘When Harry found Sally’, he found her to bar him mercilessly. Billy Cristal making jokes even after marrying Sally; in fact, they broke up so they could keep saying things to each other.
He was linked to talk a lot, to hear his intelligence and humor, to make the conversation and not love
When we liked girls, in the nineties, anecdotes like this one were heard in the subway: a young man talked about his friend Pepe (let’s say), who had toured the disco ‘entering’ all the girls, absolutely all, and, When he finished, he went back to his friends and told them nothing, that they didn’t pay any attention to him. And his friends told him: “Take another turn.” And Pepe took another turn. There was a lot going on in the nineties, yes. When we liked girls.
Just published ‘The privacy of travelers’ (Destiny), the new novel by Josan Hatero, which obviously you don’t know who it is. Of course, it comes from the nineties. Hatero appeared a lot in the press when Ray Loriga, when Lucia Etxebarria and when Jose Angel MañasYoung writers then who wrote a lot about flirting in the big city and other unimportant things. They had their moment of glory, which was not literary success, but being young and knowing it. Now young people do not know that they are young, they only have in mind that one day they will not be.
Josan Hatero wrote stories, some novels, a lot of silence. I had forgotten him after not publishing in the whole century more than one thing with drawings and romanticism, in Alfaguara. Now he returns with a long novel and short love affairs, and in it there is, among many other things, a vindication of the dialogue on, from talking to fucking, which will surely be very striking for today’s twenty-somethings, who link by giving ‘like’ to the entire Instagram disco.
The Intimacy of Travelers is about a man with great experience with women who is paid by someone else to make him fall in love and then abandon a girl. In between, we contemplate the love affairs of the three characters, more populated with words than sweating. There are even initiatory moments where a father trains his son on that great myth of the nineties, flirting: “The first lesson is free: learn to walk. Those of your generation do not know how to walk. Try to walk as if the traffic lights are going to turn green as you pass. Keep your head up and roll your shoulders a little as you walk. Stomp. (…) Women are crazy about safe guys”.
Among the gallant conversations, we find exchanges like this: “You like sex too much.” “It is not true. I really like women, sex is just a shortcut”. And some plagiarism to Woody Allen (‘Annie Hall’): “I think that before entering we should give each other a kiss. To get rid of the pressure, don’t you think?
The novel’s 90s halo is completed by the soundtrack, with Suede, Morrisey, New Order, The Cure … and that vision of cinemas as places where you are not going to see a movie, but rather for the movie to see you with a girl.
The book is about finding out why two people decide to make mistakes together
Hatero writes from rest (we are already 50 years old), syntactic aim and psychological filigree. The book isn’t about much more than figuring out why two people decide to go wrong together, rather than doing something really fun. Obviously, we didn’t quite find out, although there are some moments of romance manipulation that reach a certain playful sophistication.
And everything is in words, as I say. The internet hardly comes out.
If I’m honest, I never understood why men had to make women laugh in the nineties, and not the other way around. That verbal gurgling out of sheer fornicating desire (already criminalized by the ministry of Irene Montero in his usual monthly report) reminds me of Ray Loriga’s line in ‘The Man Who Invented Manhattan’: “Pushing meaningless conversations uphill.” It was never my thing.
In fact (anecdote), a girl started dating me when I was already a writer, expecting from me I don’t know what poetry. After a few days, he released: “You are a writer, but you don’t tell me anything that a bricklayer can’t tell me.”
I already told you this was when we liked girls. A long long time ago.