Women´s Panties 3 (a deception)


¨Qué triste, negro. What sadness,¨ she said to me over the phone. ¨All the 50,000 peso notes are false. Even the 20,000.¨
¨¿Qué pasó
¨I went to buy the hangers and the Paisa told me the two 50,000 peso bills and the 20,000 were false. What sadness, negro. What sadness.¨
The hijo de puta malparido Paisa had switched the good bills for fakes, I thought. In the market in the centro, and at Christmas, it had to happen all the time. She must have missed what that ill-birthed, son of a whore had done. I didn´t say anything. It didn´t matter now.
¨I still had enough for the ganchos,¨ she said, ¨And for the yellow underwear that the Rolos have asked for.¨ It was believed in Bogotá that golden underwear brought prosperity in the new year.
¨Just come back,¨ I said calmly. ¨I´ll meet you at the shop.¨
I considered it and then I thought maybe it hadn´t been the Paisa. I went in the bedroom for the 50,000 peso note I had taken from the shop the day before. I compared it to a note withdrawn from the ATM and immediately I saw the difference. The paper was wrong. The ink bled at the edges of the bronze ¨50¨ in the corner.

I held both bills to the light as they do at the supermarkets. The forged note did not have the thin strip embedded in the paper that said 50 MIL COLOMBIA. It was also smaller than the real note. Someone was working the panty shop and had passed off a fake 50,000 peso note each of the four days we were open.
I hurriedly put on my shoes and left the apartment. No doubt they would try it again today. I had to get there in time. I hurried up the avenida in a rage, thinking about what I would do to him. I´d blind him first with the pepper spray and then drag him into the bathroom and beat him until the police arrived. Maybe I´d carve something on the fucking ladron with my knife.
But the pepper spray would make a mess of the shop. And what if it wasn´t a guy? There hadn´t been any guys in the shop that I remembered. Probably the counterfeiter was sending women. He was sending women with 50,000 peso notes and telling them to come back with the change and to keep the panties.
When I caught the woman I would keep the note and detain her until the police arrived. Or better I could tear up the fake and tell her to take the message back to the hijo de puta counterfeiter. That would make things clear.
¨¡El patron llega!¨ shouted Señor Roberto as I came up the block. He was putting out bicycles in front of the bicicleteria.
¨¿Qué más, amigo?¨ I shook his hand and then the little man hugged me tightly, his face pressed against my chest.
I went into the shop and told Ines to show me the false notes. The fake note I brought and the two of hers were identical. They had come from the same counterfeiter.
¨There will be another falso today, amor. Es cierto. The counterfeiter will send someone again.¨
I showed her the differences between the false and the real. She insisted it was the paper which made the difference but I explained a new bill might also appear too crisp. Then I held a fake and good note to the light and she picked the good note as the fake. I held two fakes to the light and she picked one of them as real. She wasn´t seeing it. I showed her the ink bleed around the bronze ¨50¨ on the fakes and she nodded that she understood, but I tested her and she missed that too. I would stay to catch the thief anyway. We could practice at home tonight.
¨But you cannot do anything to the one who comes with the falso,¨ Ines said. ¨They will send others to harm us or pay someone. What will happen when you leave and I am here alone?¨
She was right. I couldn´t do anything. It was the Colombian way to sneak up on someone, or hire a stranger. Colombians did not confront you. They were cautious and kept their distance. They even fought with belts instead of their fists. Anyway, the fault was ours. The thief had only acted in accordance with his nature and we had allowed it. We had given the papaya, as the Colombian expression goes.
In the afternoon a woman and a young girl came into the shop. They selected a top and panty set and two thongs. I watched the woman give Ines a 50 mil note and she came behind the display rack and gave it to me. It was a forgery, the same as the others. I came out and confronted her.
¨Es falso, mamí.¨ Her face was rough and she didn´t make eye contact with me. The young girl with her looked entirely innocent and unknowing.
I gave her the note and saw the tattoos on her hands. Then she rubbed the bill to show me the ink did not smudge.
¨That signifies nothing,¨ I said. I pointed at the ink bleed around the 50. ¨Mira. Look. It is badly done. And the strip inside the paper is missing.¨
The woman´s hands were shaking. It surprised her to be confronted by a gringo.
¨No más pendejada, mamí. You will have to do better next time.¨
The woman put the fake note in her pocket and turned to leave. But the young girl still wanted the thongs. She paid with 4,000 pesos of her own and they left.
That night we were walking home and Ines wanted to stop at the drycleaner to pick up the bed spread. She wanted to pay with one of the false notes. I didn´t say anything. The drycleaner was closed. Then she wanted to buy some nail polish. She wanted to pass a false note there. Again, I didn´t say anything.
I stood at the entrance of the shop and watched as she selected different bottles of nail polish and brought them to the woman at the counter. She passed the bill and the woman quickly pronounced it a fake and handed it back. She passed it back as if she had been receiving fakes all day. The counterfeiter had probably tried them at shops throughout the barrio. Ines paid with good money and we left.
¨Let´s just forget about using the false ones,¨ I told her.
¨Yes,¨ she said. ¨It doesn´t feel right.¨
¨It was our fault anyway,¨ I said.
¨Yes. We should have known.¨
¨Tonight we will practice so that you see clearly the difference. So that it does not happen again.¨
¨Nunca más de esa mariquera
¨No, mi amor. Never again that faggotry.¨


Women´s Panties 2 (local practices)

¨Falta el aviso. When will you put up the sign?¨

It was Señor Roberto. He had ducked under the roll-up door and come into the local.

¨Ya, casi,¨ I told him. We were almost finished getting the panties and tops stretched onto hangers and put on the display racks. We were almost ready to open the shop.
¨You fault only for the sign,¨ said Señor Roberto. ¨You should put up the sign now. You should have put the sign up first.¨

The long, pink sign that read in white block letters PANTYS A $2.000 was leaned against the wall. It was stretched upon a flimsy balsa wood frame held together with staples.
¨Voy a ayudarte con el aviso,¨ said Señor Roberto, ¨I will help you to put up the sign. Vamos

I followed him outside the shop with the sign. Above the entrance was a thick metal plate. It was smaller than the sign and it also wasn´t flat. Even if the sign was screwed into the plate it would not lay flush. Señor Roberto went into the bicicleteria and returned with a drill and two foot stools.

¨How will you do it?¨
Señor Roberto climbed the foot stool and held the sign up above him against the metal plate. He wanted me to step up on the other foot stool and begin drilling through the wooden frame and into the metal. Then we would put the screws in. But the sign was moving all over the place. Señor Roberto couldn´t hold it straight above him. If I drilled holes none of them would line up. With the sign moving I´d probably destroy the wooden frame by drilling through it.

¨Do it! Begin the drilling!¨ Señor Roberto´s thumb was pushed into the plastic, deforming the sign. There was bike grease on his other hand that he was smearing onto the sign. Señor Roberto was ruining it.
¨No. No,¨ I said, ¨This will not work.¨

¨Yes! Yes! Start the drilling!¨ The sign was moving all over the place.
The young bike mechanic from the bicicleteria had come out to watch.

¨Start the drilling! Start the drilling!¨
¨The sign is moving. The holes will not be aligned for the screws.¨

¨¡No importa nada! It matters for nothing! Start the drilling!¨
¨Tell him this is a failure,¨ I said to the young mechanic. He looked at me and said nothing.

¨¡Vamos! Begin the drilling!¨
¨You are destroying the sign, Señor Roberto. Come down.¨

Despite all this commotion women had begun to enter the store. They stepped around us on the stools at the entrance to get inside. They went in and came out cautiously with their bags of panties and tops.
Señor Roberto was tired of holding the sign over his head and came down from his stool and went into the bicicleteria. I had the drill now to myself and made measurements on the metal plate and on the sign where the holes should go and marked them with a pen. I got on the stool and tried to drill the first hole through the plate but the bit wasn´t strong enough. The young mechanic was still outside watching and I asked him for some wire. Perhaps I could wire it to the metal plate.

I was turning screws into the wooden frame of the sign to which I could wrap the wire when Señor Roberto returned.
¨Utiliza este torneador.¨ He had a very long screwdriver.

¨No, señor. Todo va bien.¨ I was screwing easily through the balsa wood.
¨This has increased power.¨ He held the long screwdriver before my face. ¨Use this one.¨

I continued turning a screw into the frame as he held the long screwdriver in front of my face.
¨It will be better to use this torneador for its power.¨

¨Goddammit!¨ I shouted in English. ¨Goddammit! Just get the fuck out of here!¨ and I spiked my screwdriver on the sidewalk as hard as could. I didn´t see where it went. I didn´t care what the women in the store thought. Señor Roberto and the young mechanic hurried into the bicicleteria.
I found my screwdriver and finished putting the screws into the frame of the sign and then stood on the stool and wired it to the plate. The sign hung perfectly above the entrance. PANTYS A $2.000. Ines came out and admired it with me. We had already sold 50,000 pesos worth of mercancia, she said. She was very happy.

In the afternoon Señor Robert came into the shop. I felt badly for yelling at him and spiking the screwdriver. But Señor Roberto was smiling. He didn´t seem to remember what had happened earlier.

¨We should mount a bicicleteria together,¨ he said. ¨Será el patrón. You will be the owner of a panty shop and a bicycle shop.¨
¨Oh, yes,¨ I said. ¨In the future we will mount a bicicleteria

¨Peugeot. Gitane. LeMond. We will sell only French bicycles.¨

¨LeMond was the greatest of the French cyclists,¨ he said. ¨I remember watching the marvel that was LeMond.  You must be very proud of him.¨
¨El es americano. LeMond is an American.¨

¨Nonsense. Qué tontería,¨ said Señor Roberto. ¨Of course he isn´t.¨


Off Corss, Merry Christmas

A best-selling top and panty set. The Colombian is captivated by even the appearance of the English language. 


Women´s Panties (a hidden transcript)

Recent events in Bogotá, Colombia

I was putting together the displays for the panty store when Señor Roberto, the friendly little man who owned the bicicleteria next door, ducked under the half open roll-up door.
¨Buenos dias, amigo! Como te vas!¨ We shook hands and then the little man hugged me tightly with both arms, his face pressed against my chest. I had only met him the day before.
¨When will you open the tienda
¨When we have received the mercancia,¨ I told him. ¨Perhaps Monday.¨
¨Bueno. Bueno.¨ He nodded and looked around the local.
I went back to screwing on the legs of one of the mayas, the standing upright displays we planned to hang the panties and tops from. Señor Roberto stood at the roll-up door watching.
¨¿Qué tal Francia, amigo
¨I don´t know,¨ I said.
¨Surely you do. How is France?¨
¨Soy americano. I am American.¨
¨Yes. I told you that yesterday.¨
¨I do not think so.¨
I measured the last piece of red plastic sheeting for the floor and cut it with my knife, using a piece of cardboard to keep the line, and then put it into place.
¨Tienes que descansar un ratito, amigo. Come. I want to show you something.¨
I followed Señor Roberto across the street and into a building that was under construction. On the ground floor was a tall mound of dry cement. The workers had mixed some of it and were putting up a brick wall. The lower level was to be the new location of his bicicleteria, explained Señor Roberto. The second floor he planned to rent to a family. Construction would be complete in twenty days.
Señor Roberto called over one of the laborers, a very dark negro from the Choco.
¨Let me present to you my friend,¨ Señor Roberto said to the negro. ¨He is French.¨
¨In truth, I am American,¨ I said and shook his hand. ¨Mucho gusto
¨¿Vienes de Estados Unidos?¨ The negro asked.
¨He is a norteamericano,¨ Señor Roberto said proudly.
In the afternoon Señor Roberto invited me to lunch at the pescaderia. He was insistent I order the cazuela de mariscos. It was a dish he ate four times a week for the maintenance of his cycling physique. It was the dish of all cyclists from the Boyaca. Señor Roberto ordered it for the both of us.
The creamy soup of mixed seafood came steaming hot in an earthenware bowl and delivered upon a wooden platter. With it came a plate of fried plantains, salad and arroz con coco. The server brought a pitcher of fresh lemonade and two glasses.
¨Why do you choose to live in America? It makes no sense at all.¨
I smiled at him. I was trying to think of some way to make things clear to him.
¨Why do the French not wish to live in their own country?¨
I didn´t say anything. It had started to rain outside. I blew on a spoonful of cazuela to cool it.
¨Do you have brothers and sisters?¨
¨I have a younger brother,¨ I said. ¨He lives in France.¨ I said it and knew I had made a mistake.
¨Claro. Of course he does,¨ said Señor Roberto. ¨And why should he not?¨
¨He is americano
¨Yes. As I am. Somos norteamericanos
¨Claro. Of course,¨ he nodded. ¨You are North Americans. But when will you open the tienda
¨The cazuela is delicious,¨ I replied.
¨Yes. I eat it four times a week.¨
We finished eating and went to the counter to pay for our meals. The cazuela was 12,000 pesos.
¨¿De donde viene usted?¨ the woman asked me.
¨My friend is French,¨ said Señor Roberto proudly.
¨I am American,¨ I said.
¨But you live in France?¨
¨Yes,¨ said Señor Roberto,¨Claro. Of course.¨
¨I live in America,¨ I told her.
¨Then you are americano
¨He is americano. Claro, of course,¨ said Señor Roberto, ¨Vamos amigo, let´s go. I must get back to the bicicleteria


Electricity & Writing

¨Socrates: But if these things are only to be known through names, how can we suppose that the givers of names had knowledge, or were legislators before there were names at all, and therefore before they could have known them?
Cratylus: I believe, Socrates, the true account of the matter to be, that a power more than human gave things their first names, and that the names which were thus given are necessarily their true names.¨ — Plato, Cratylus
19. Names for the pre-literate Greek were an auditory divination, a myth-event, not entirely stable in meaning, received by men from gods. Names today are visual pictures: spelled, defined and administered to children by the state through mandatory schooling.  
32. To point out the parallels between science and the state, as both operate upon the principles of legibility, standardization and systematization, is to perhaps only propose another grand human narrative, one more general and meta than the last, and thereby seemingly more true. In the search for the one true story of man, of first causes and prime movers, one continues an old train of thought endemic to the West.
43. Still, it is proper to ask how the technology of the written word changed the language people spoke. Prior to the appearance of writing, was the language man spoke less rigorously logical, more emotional and impassioned, more religious?
46. Fred Nietzsche criticized his Birth of Tragedy saying it should have sung. Plato argued the poets were immoral and needed to be removed from his ideal city-state. Teddy Carpenter abandoned his anthropological project, equating the study of non-western, pre-literate peoples with a kind of criminal act. Perhaps the tragedy of philosophy is that it tries and fails to sing and to make poetry. Philosophy must finally reject the poetic or, in the acceptance that it can never sing, must itself go silent.  
55. They say now that poetry is one particular electrical action in the brain among many. They have observed it and measured it. The brain is like computer hardware, they say, and poetry one of many softwares. There have always been computers, for man has always been a computer.
58. Man conceives himself through his technology. The technology of the written word allowed for the standardization of names and the creation of narratives of causes and effects: the complexities of argument and logic. The technology was useful: it broadened the state and met his goals of enhanced security, property ownership, and law. It grew his material wealth, provided him with pleasures and expanded his empire.
61. Plato´s Socrates speaks of his daimōn, a rationality that guides him. Notably it is inaccessible to both gods and other men. By answering its call and accepting its guidance, he is separated from gods and men and made an individual. Philosophy would progress to internalize this force of rationality within man, to make it a feature unique to man. Later, to the systematic economists, rationality would become a core assumption about men in their arithmetic of global economic life.
75. The technology of writing began as an amanuensis and was slowly grafted onto man. Its logic and reasonableness became a part of his speech. The spoken word became secondary to the written. The eye achieved dominance over the ear. Man learned to speak in text.
79. What is called consciousness is the embodiment of the technology of writing. Consciousness does not appear to man as poetry or song. Consciousness appears as a voice, a voice of reason, an interior logic: a written voice.
80. Without the technology of writing there could be no subject, no individual.

81. ¨Schizophrenia may be a necessary consequence of literacy.¨ - Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, 1962

85. The problems of other minds, whether the world is illusion or true, are the problems of literate men. The text was essential in the development of these ¨problems.¨

87. The historians tell of the Dark Ages, the centuries after the Roman empire had collapsed and men lived in small villages and feared the forest. These villagers were illiterate and state-less. Europe was sparsely populated and little was known of life beyond the village. Men were often without clothing and walked around shamelessly naked. Curiously, these men of the Dark Age were nameless. Was it coincidence that in the absence of the state men also lost their names? With this breakdown in legibility even in regard to himself, was it possible for a man to conceive himself as an individual?
99. The computer is the electrification of the technology of writing: the joining of his mastery of electricity to the older technology of writing. He sees the world through this enhanced electrical writing. He observes electricity in his own body and brain and believes he is not very different than the electricity and logic of the computer. He aspires to merge with it: to become reason, logic and legibility electrified and all knowing.
100. In the moving picture Lucy (2014) dolphins are depicted as using 20% of their brain capacity, compared to humans at 10% (brain capacity appears to be a measure of electrical activity relative to cerebral size). At 20% of its brain capacity, the film implies, a dolphin is physically endowed with functional sonar, which a human must manufacture technology to replicate. During the course of the film the protagonist Lucy expands her use of brain capacity and gains control over the laws of the world as detailed by science (gravity, fusion, etc.). Curiously, as she expands the use of her brain and becomes more reasonable, she loses her sex drive, empathy for other humans, any recognition of historical moral codes and ethics, and respect for private property. Eventually Lucy departs her body and merges with a computer. Finally, at 100% of brain capacity, she transforms herself from a computer into an electrical wave that can inhabit all living and non-living things, past and present. Man as computer hardware has made his final evolution into a supreme, immortal, all knowing and unbounded electrical rationality. The utopian dream is complete, the final step of his evolution from single celled organism.
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