“Oh, Beulah, Peel Me a Grape”

This iconic line is from Mae West’s 1933 movie “I’m No Angel.” The movie is filled with some of West’s most famous lines, such as “Why don’t cha come up and see me sometime?” and “It isn’t the men in your life, it’s the life in your men.” To my mother, “peel me a grape” epitomized the self indulgence of the “ldle rich.” This came back to me the other day while we were lounging in our 5th-floor apartment after a lovely meal at Savoy Restaurant, on the street just below. We were wondering how to get back on some regular schedule after two months in the US followed by Girona’s Temps de Flors. I said, “Perhaps we should just stay here and call down for room service.” And suddenly Mae West’s line was so clear in my memory:

Are we what my mother would have called the “idle rich?” Probably. Even though we are hardly “idle” and certainly, not “rich,” we are blessed with a rich and bountiful life here in Catalonia. This ancient city that we call home is a treasure trove of everything we need and most of what we want. We have two excellent restaurants within 100 feet of our apartment, and everything we usually shop for is within a 10-minute walk. How self indulgent. 

We have just spent two months in the US, a country where most people have to get in their cars and drive a mile or two to buy the simplest item. Our children, who live in the suburbs of Colorado and California, couldn’t even buy a cup of coffee without getting into a car. (What will people in the US do when the oil runs out?)

We don’t own (and don’t need) a car in Girona. We walk nearly everywhere, which is good for our health. When we need transportation there are trains, buses, and taxis almost at our doorstep. If we want to drive out into the countryside, I rent a car for a day or two. Girona airport is only 15 minutes away by taxi, with budget flights all over Europe and to North Africa, at a fraction of the cost of flying from the US. If we long for the “big city,” we take the Ave/Avant bullet train to Barcelona, arriving in 38 minutes at over 200 KM per hour.

When you consider that when we lived in the US we owned two cars, our current transportation costs here are small. Yes, we live the life of the “idle rich”—while being neither. So, in the immortal words of Miss West:


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