Gheridge (Part 5 of 5)

PREVIOUSLY: PART FOUR

In my entire life it had never occurred to me what the maximum speed of a city bus was, but I can now tell you it’s about sixty-five miles per hour. I know that because the bus driver gunned it during a three-mile stretch of freeway. He turned off the interior lights while barreling through tunnels and repeatedly changing lanes, probably without using his turn signal. The back of the bus was jumping and there were yelps from older women sitting up front who also uttered a few choice words. I’ve never been afraid of death, but I really had been hoping to check out Gheridge first.

The bus hit smaller streets and then slowly made its way through centro, the commercial zone of the city, a place every guidebook warns to avoid at night. Hundreds of homeless people were everywhere, hugging the buildings, either sleeping on cardboard or limping around with their meager belongings. The more we drove by the huge buildings, which were headquarters to Brazil’s biggest corporate giants, the more it felt like a city within a city, an underworld that I wasn’t supposed to see. I thought about how things must be really bad for a person to be homeless in Brazil and not even to be able to live in a shack perched on the side of a mountain.

“We’ve been on this bus for at least thirty minutes,” I said to Henrik. “Have you seen any train tracks?”

“Not yet.”

“I’ve never been to this part of Rio before.”

“Neither have I,” Henrik said. “It doesn’t look safe.”

“No shit, it’s deserted. My expectations for Gheridge are lowering.”

“Don’t worry about it. I have a good feeling about this.”

“You think Gheridge is like an oasis? A bar with beautiful, clean women that is surrounded by favelas on all sides?”

“Are you being sarcastic again?”

“I don’t even know anymore,” I admitted. “Hey, look—I think those are the tracks we’re looking for.”

They were indeed train tracks. Now we had to wait for the tracks to go over a bridge. The problem was that there were multiple bridges, all similar in size.

“How big is this bridge we’re looking for?” Henrik asked, looking concerned.

“Google Maps showed it as sort of big,” I replied. “It had arch supports, so I don’t think it’s one of those little interchange bridges.”

“Does it go over water?”

“I don’t think so.”

We were two gringos in the middle of a deserted part of Rio, looking for a bridge with arches while riding on the ghetto bus.

“Look at that bridge,” said Henrik. “It has arches.”

It did have arches, but it looked smaller than I’d expected. “I don’t think that’s the bridge we want,” I said. “Let’s keep going a while. If the tracks veer to the right, then that was the bridge.”

The tracks veered to the right. There was a “Fuck” and “Damn it” and then we got off the bus at least a mile away from Gheridge. Now next to a busy highway, we’d have to follow it back to the bridge.

“Come on, let’s start walking,” Henrik said after the bus had dropped us off.

“Hold on, let me think. You know we’re in a bad area, right?”

“It doesn’t look that bad.”

“Dude, it’s bad, and we’re both obvious gringos,” I said. “Maybe we should take a cab,”

“And how are we going to catch a cab by the highway? We’d have to get on a side street, but I can’t see one from here. All we need to do is walk that way for fifteen minutes and we’ll be there.”

“Okay, but take off your shirt,” I said while looking at a guy sitting on a small hill a couple hundred feet from us.

“What?” he asked.

“Just take off your shirt.” I removed mine.

“I knew you were gay!”

“Shut up. Whenever I’m in a bad neighborhood, I walk shirtless so the thugs will think I’m like them. No one has even been mugged with his shirt off.”

“Does it work?”

“Ask me if I’ve been mugged in Brazil.”

“Well, have you?”

“Never.”

Henrik immediately took off his shirt and his pale Danish skin seemed to glow in the dark. No one was ever going to believe that such a pretty boy was a thug.

He took the lead, walking several paces in front of me, going way too fast. “Slow down, Henrik, they’ll think we’re scared and trying to get away,” I complained. “Thugs walk slow. Just pretend you’re a thug.”

The guy on the hill was soon joined by two others, and not far behind us was a young man with a backpack, his eyes firmly planted on the ground. On our left I saw some makeshift tents made of green tarps, shelters for the homeless. Even though I didn’t have much in the way of valuables on me, my heart was pounding.

I wanted to keep looking back, but I knew that would have been a mistake. Then they would have known we had something worth stealing. Thugs only look back to see if there’s someone they want to rob, so giving frequent glances would only confirm that we were good targets.

What I did was stare hard at whoever was behind us and made sure they saw me looking at possessions like shoes and bags while verifying that the distance between us and what turned out to be a small flock of men wasn’t narrowing. Henrik was now well in front of me and if I was attacked he wouldn’t even hear me above the roar of the cars flying past us.

In the distance I saw a few convenience stores with people milling outside, and then, finally, the train bridge. Next to that was a wide road with various vendors setting up shop to sell beer and snacks. There would be many rock bars, with Gheridge being the last one at the end of the road. I looked back one more time and only saw the man with the backpack. The others had disappeared. We were safe.

“Should we ask someone where Gheridge is?” I asked.

“It should be easy. We’ll just walk down this road until we see the sign,” Henrik said as we put our shirts back on.

My body was sweaty and stinking of the street. I wanted to cool down. “You mind if we get a beer at one of these bars as a warm-up for Gheridge? That walk made me thirsty.”

It didn’t take long to find a dive bar. There were two guys and a transsexual wearing a choker that contained enormous spikes. It looked like a torture device. The barkeep was a large man with a beer belly that his wife-beater could not contain.

“Gheridge better be better than this,” I said.

“Don’t worry. My friend said Gheridge is a good spot. A lot of people go there. It’s going to be good.”

“How’s my breath?” I said, leaning in close. “I forgot to rinse with Listerine before leaving the house.”

“It’s fine.”

We sat in silence for a short while. Henrik was more comfortable with silence than the average American, content to not say anything for most of the time. I broke the ice. “Carnival was kind of shitty, no?”

“I can’t say it was the highlight of my time in Rio.” He took a swig from a tiny glass that needed refilling after just a few sips.

“I think Carnival sucks,” I said. “Brazilian Carnival is for Brazilians, not gringos. Did you notice how much harder it was to meet girls?”

“Yeah, they were always with big groups of friends. They didn’t seem as open.”

“Exactly! Let me ask you this: when was the last time you fucked a girl that you originally met while she was in a group of four or more?”

“Dream girl.”

“Fuck. Okay, how about another girl?”

I gave him not more than two seconds to think, then said, “See! When a girl is out with a big group, it’s much harder to get sex.”

“But you met that Argentine girl last week at the champagne bar,” Henrik countered. “She was with a big group.”

“Yes, but I didn’t approach her until she was alone outside.”

“Even so, I don’t know.”

“Look, my theory holds for most cases,” I insisted. “If a girl is in a group larger than three, there’s no use bothering unless you know how to make a straw rise out of her drink without using your hands.”

“You know how to do that?”

“No, but there’s a famous guy in America who picks up girls with magic. He wears goggles and a top hat and looks like a circus ringleader.”

“Does it work?”

“He’s considered the best pickup artist in the world. He even had his own reality show.”

Henrik laughed. “Only in America!”

The transsexual was making long stares at Henrik. “Looks like someone could be getting lucky tonight,” I said while elbowing Henrik in the arm. “You want me to make an introduction?”

“I think I’m okay, but thanks.”

We finished the large bottle of beer and went back outside. The crowd on the street had gotten denser with people who were hardcore grunge, or goth, or whatever you call it. No other color was acceptable except black. Girls had black lipstick, black nail polish, and black eye liner (the latter I didn’t actually mind). There were many spiky contraptions and chains.

I looked at Henrik and gave him a death stare, but he just put his hand on my back and said, “Relax, buddy. Wait until we get to Gheridge.”

“Yeah, I’m sure it will miraculously change at Gheridge.”

“Now that was sarcasm.”

On the bright side, we were the only gringos on the street. We got constant stares, especially Henrik, who was the only natural blond around. Everyone probably thought I was his Brazilian tour guide.

The road curved right and the sounds of people got louder. “I’m pretty sure Gheridge is this way,” Henrik said.

Then I looked to my left and saw a large pile of rubble. It seemed like the result of a missile or bomb attack. Concrete blocks were strewn about and I could see a gap where the main door must have been. Strangely enough, the rubble had become a hang-out spot, and at least three dozen teenagers had picked a concrete block to sit on, smoking and drinking. In the middle of the rubble I saw a young girl with black everything. She couldn’t have been older than sixteen, but she was absolutely stunning. I could easily see her natural beauty behind all that gunk on her perfectly proportioned face. And who had his arm wrapped around but a twig of a boy who I could have lifted with one hand. He also was wearing black lipstick and eyeliner. They started kissing.

“Look at that over there,” I said.

Henrik turned his head and said, “I’m used to that now. Brazil is weird like that.”

“Yup. Guys who would never get laid in the States are banging girls that are hotter than anything we have. Oh, life, why do you play such cruel tricks on me?!”

Our English was getting some attention now. Kids would look at us, only to realize that they were lowering their cool quotient in the process, then immediately look away.

“Well, we’re here,” Henrik said.

We stood in front of a tiny neighborhood bar with fewer people than the pile of rubble. There was rock music playing inside and a single pool table, but nothing more than a couple plastic tables and chairs. There were four or five ugly girls talking with guys.

Looking around in disbelief, I said, “Holy… fuck. You brought me all the way over here for this? What is this shit?”

“Strange,” Henrik replied. “This isn’t quite as good as my friend described it.”

“Not quite as good? The shitty juice bar next to our place has better-looking girls than this!” I took a deep breath. “Are you positive this is the right place?”

Henrik looked at the sign and said, “Yup, this is Gheridge all right.”

I looked at the sign myself, then looked at Henrik, then looked at the sign again. I stared at each letter very carefully, as if trying to change them with my mind. I closed my eyes for two seconds, then opened them again, but the letters didn’t change: G-A-R-A-G-E.

“Hey, Henrik,” I said, looking at the sign once more. “What does that sign up there say?”

“What?”

“Can you say that word for me?”

“Is this a joke?”

“No, it’s not a joke. Just say it, please.”

He looked at it for a few seconds, then said what I already knew he was going to say. I nodded, then put my hand up to my face, not sure whether I should laugh or cry.

“You… stupid… European! That says Garage, not Gheridge! I never would have come here if I knew it was Garage! There’s no good bar in the entire world that has a name like that!”

“Are you sure?” He was scratching his head. “It’s not pronounced Gheridge?”

“No, Henrik, it’s not pronounced Gheridge.”

“But how do you explain the word garbage. Why are the endings the same but the sounds are different?”

“I don’t know, man. But that’s definitely not Gheridge.”

We both stood staring at the sign in silence, as if it was a monument of some sort.

“So, you want to go to Emporio?” Henrik finally asked.

“Yeah, I’m down.”

We each bought a bottle of beer for the road and caught a bus to Ipanema.

One year later, I arrived in Copenhagen to visit Henrik. On my first night he took me for a walk through his Vesterbro neighborhood, pointing out the cool bars and cafes.

“Why are all these bikes unlocked?” I asked. The first thing anyone notices about Copenhagen is the bicycles.

“No, they’re definitely locked.” He showed me the small wheel locks that went on the back.

“But anyone can just pick it up and put it in a van!”

“Sometimes that happens, but you’ll get your bike back when the police catch the guys.”

“They catch bicycle thieves here? There must be no crime here then.”

“There’s quite a bit now,” he said. “We even have shootings between gangs, just like you do in America.”

“How many people die a year from shootings?”

“In Copenhagen? About ten. In the entire country, fifty or so.”

It was a world away from Brazil, or even the United States, but apparently such numbers were worrying to the Danes. They had even begun to have home invasions, something that hadn’t existed a few years earlier.

We sat down to eat at a kebab place to get caught up.

“I’ve started seeing a girl,” he said.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah, she’s pretty, incredibly fun, and has the most beautiful brown eyes I’ve ever seen. I really, really like her.”

“Tired of blue eyes, huh?”

“Yeah, I never meet girls with brown eyes here.”

“Is she good in bed?” I asked.

“We haven’t had sex yet. I’m taking it nice and slow.”

I smiled and said, “You know, that sounds familiar.”

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  • outlaw josey wales

    Great writing, and nice ending.

    I am actually looking forward to your Danish Diary. I feel they it will be a full on laugh-a-minute hatefest.

  • rasputin

    Awesome writing, looking forward to buy A.D.B.I.P. as soon as i have some cash.

    Rock on

  • Cliff Arroyo

    Small pedantic point.

    Something similar to gheridge is the traditional British pronunciation and that’s probably what Henrik learned in school.

    The pronunciation given here is a little different

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/garage#Pronunciation

    but I’d been assuming that the real name was going to be ‘garage’.

    Nice story overall. Was Henryik dating a Danish girl or an immigrant?

  • E

    Nice ending. Great story.

  • Gringoed

    “Are you being sarcastic again?”

    “I don’t even know anymore,”

    SIMPSONS DID IT

  • Anonymous

    Wow, what a great story. It’s particularly funny to me as I have a friend from Sweden who acts -and quite frankly, looks- very similar to Henrik. By the way, the proper retort to “stupid American” is “Eurofag”. Riveting piece of writing, though. Better than anything else I’ve read of yours (Bang and DBIP).

  • John

    Great story, that made me laugh like hell.

  • http://www.thegmanifesto.com The G Manifesto

    Excellent writing, it had me laughing a lot.

    Classic story of the endless search for that bar or nightclub that we all think will change our lives.

    We have all been there. Great work.

    - MPM

  • St

    Haha, great story

  • http://www.thevelvetrocket.com Justin

    Nice to have a travel story poured into the mix… I’m looking forward to some of your European travel stories.

  • speakeasy

    This story was a fun read and really illustrates one of the best aspects of travel, the characters you travel with and navigating a new environment. I could come up with some equally funny stories about the time me and a friend accidentally walked into a gay bar while searching for something else. Good to see the travel stories coming back.

  • http://oldsystemwillfall.wordpress.com Nestorius

    “I wanted to keep looking back, but I knew that would have been a mistake. Then they would have known we had something worth stealing. Thugs only look back to see if there’s someone they want to rob, so giving frequent glances would only confirm that we were good targets. What I did was stare hard at whoever was behind us and made sure they saw me looking at possessions like shoes and bags while verifying that the distance between us and what turned out to be a small flock of men wasn’t narrowing.”

    This is what differentiates the smart traveller from the other idiot tourists.
    It gives me much insight if I were one day to go to Brazil.

  • RentSeeker

    Why does Henrik want so badly to go extinct?

    It makes me depressed.

  • Roosh

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments. :bow:

    Cliff: The new dream girl was Danish. You’ll hear more from Henrik when I’m done with my Denmark anti-guide.

  • Renan

    Roosh, did you know that Garage it’s next to the most famous whorehouse in Rio?

  • Anonymous

    Great work,

    The only reason denmark recently has higher levels of Gangland crime is cos of non european immigrants that they let in

  • Amour Fou

    HAHAHA!

    CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’VE BEEN TO GARAGE!

    And I think you didn’t stay there long enough to realise HOW CLOSE (parallel street) it is to the dirtiest, grimiest, CHEAPEST “red light district” in Rio… Vila Mimosa. It is the place truck drivers go to spend their monthly earnings on 5 reais worth of blowjobs.

    But I am sure it was worthed… at least for the anthropological experience.

    Loved your tale.

  • sloopjohn

    Vila Mimosa is very famous and is actually the site of a former slave market. Although cheap and very working class, it is supposed to get some pretty decent looking girls.

  • noman

    Great writing, I like this whole little series. Question for you… I’ve been a reader of the blog for a while, and lately I try to do about 7 to 10 approaches per day.

    The high number of approaches has me disliking women more and more. Are they all superficial and annoying, or is this something particular to America? (I haven’t traveled abroad much so your opinion on this is valued.)

    They act so snotty at times and it’s like what do you even have going for you? You’re a college girl with a pair of tits, no income, no original thoughts stirring around in that vacuous skull of yours. I’ve worked hard for everything in my life to achieve a degree of success and if it weren’t for the fact that I want to bone you, I’d never even think twice about someone as flaky and inconsequential as most 20 to 25 year old women are.

  • Anonymous

    @19
    Good point.ifeel the same as you do.
    I think like 90% of them are worthless and only the 10% of them that maybe worth it are the poorer working class that dont have their parents still floating them around in life by buying cars and rent for them etc…
    Yeah that age range looks nice but it comes with a price and youll need a big bottle of advil after messing with them.
    Ive always liked younger milfs that age.they seem to appreciate a guy more for some reason and will do more for you.

  • Adventure21c

    “there’s no use bothering unless you know how to make a straw rise out of her drink without using your hands.”

    I wonder how good Mystery was in his prime.

    What was his approach to f-closing rate at his peak?

    Anyone know?

  • K-Man

    Great story Roosh.
    Still I wonder how you didn’t check it out more thoroughly before going – now Brazil may not have yelp.com but any place that’s any good at least has a website these days. Or appears on the club promotion websites that exist in every country.

  • Girl

    Noman, they can smell your desperation.

  • Rudebwoy

    What a great story and some really nice writing.

    The bus journey is a classic, taking off your shirts in a ghetto had me in stitches. What a great idea and where the heck did you learn that?

    Please more tales and a Henrikk update! I am surprised he has not learnt anything from you.

  • samseau

    liked it

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  • baz

    great story, reminded me a bit of my time in rio, SP, campinas and SJDC about ten years back, although i had a gf back home so kept it in the pants
    my fellow gringo, whilst a nice guy, was very square and lifeless, more interested in going to the oldest café in rio than checking out the nightlife – that said, i think he would’ve been the worst wingman ever anyway1

  • Anonymous

    Nice story. You are wrong about there not being a good bar called garagem in the world though. Recife had this afterhours spot that had that name-and was an actual shop during the day- that was the best place for pick up at any given night. Really run down but for some reason people of middle and upper classes flocked the place for cold drinks, good eclectic music, lack of rules enforcement(plenty of ganja smoking) and most importantly extremely easy hook ups. It’s been torn down for a couple of years though.

  • Matheus

    hey roosh man im from brazil, but have lived in the us for nearly 12 years, i went there for 3 months and i spent carnaval there, you said you didnt like carnaval there, well i think its because you stayed in rio, i strongly recomend you go to campanha minas gerais or ouro preto, minas gerais, beautiful women plus it isnt that rio carnaval thats all about dancing, in minas its all about fucking. im only 16 so i got the young bitches, but those cities are perfect for gringos because they have never seen one before, and youll make out with a bitch within 5 minutes of meeting her, and theres a cheap motel nearby for wen you get some action. BTW im actually going to live in brazil in a couple months, maybe you can come visit me in campanha and ill show you a crazy party bro, every saturday, hundreds of people will show up at the same street its a huge street called the praca, no need to pay cover and all the girls are right there. You can hit me up Swagger69MDT@hotmail.com we can set something up, and you can get some young bitches. Maybe you can even help me with my game bro. peace, Matheus