June 7, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Culture, Madrid, Spain

I think I´ve been in perpetual mullet-watching mode since the day I first set foot in Spain. Maybe I’m just captivated by their entertaining and perplexing aerodynamic-ness, or perhaps I’m still trying to come to terms with my childhood. Yes, that’s me to the left looking all happy and clueless at Disneyland for my seventh birthday. I was a kid, and it was the 80s, so excuses can be made (but Mom, Dad – what the!?!!!!???).

Before I start analyzing the heinous haircuts of others, however, I want to emphasize that I have every right to do so since I too had one of them. I believe this is a part of the healing process.  

A few months ago I decided to take my mullet spectating to the next level – I wanted photographic evidence of the hairdo in the wild. But you see, this is a very difficult task for two reasons: 1) you must get profile shots in order to encompass both the business in the front and the party in the back, and 2) in doing so, you don’t want people to actually realize that you are not only taking a picture of them, but potentially laughing at them too. This is complicated.

Well, apparently not that complicated because my friend Holly recently went to the ongoing protests in Puerta del Sol and hit the mullet jackpot (similar to the lottery in terms of excitement, but not quite). She also happens to be a pretty talented and sly photographer. Come to think of it, given her crafty mullet-capturing skills, she’s probably cut out for snapping those elusive nature shots of some undiscovered species in the depths of the Amazon.

As you can see, this rebellious haircut comes in many different forms. First there’s the classic mullet (exhibit C) – probably an American favorite, and obviously preferred by me at the age of seven. Then you have the mohawk mullet (exhibit D) – a little more punk rock, and somehow closer to acceptable. And then, my personal favorite, the dreadlock mullet (exhibit H) – an especially popular choice here on the Iberian Peninsula.

If a mullet could talk, what would it say? Aside from “I have bad taste,” it also may communicate, “I’m anti-establishment,” “I’m not a big fan of grooming,” “I’m indecisive” or “don’t break my achy breaky heart.”

So what’s your favorite kind of mullet? Does anyone else out there want to make me feel better and admit that they too once had one of these lovely hairstyles? And please, if you had a bowl cut, don’t even try to compete. Bowl cuts are way more acceptable than mullets.

Happy mullet watching!

*Jacobo wants me to clarify that not ALL Spaniards have mullets (duh), just a disturbingly large percentage of them seem to when compared to other countries (and most of them can apparently be found in Puerta del Sol, or in Basque Country – or so I’ve been told).

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Exhibit E

Exhibit F

Exhibit G

Exhibit H

Exhibit I

Exhibit J

Exhibit K

Exhibit L

Exhibit M

Exhibit N

June 25, 2010 - Posted by Erin in Madrid, Traditions

Or maybe, how not to. I’ve been asked by countless people how to “blend” in a bit more here, particularly with my impending wedding and some 40 Americans making the long journey to Spain. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to clarify how to stand out like a sore American thumb and how not to (largely after nearly four years of learning the hard way, I should add). I will preface this with the disclaimer that these are obviously generalizations on my part, so of course not everyone falls into these categories ;)!

How to look like an American:

    1. Wear flips flops anywhere but at the beach or non-beachy locations (I used to wear flip flops like it was my job – I now realize that Spanish women from Madrid would sooner be caught dead than consider such a thing a wardrobe staple).
    2. Wear a sweatshirt, or even better, a hooded sweatshirt…or if you really want to up the ante, wear a hooded sweatshirt sporting your university’s name on it.
    3. Baseball hats. Period.
    4. Gym clothes anywhere but at the gym (or anything resembling pajamas anywhere outside of the house). Seriously, people here don’t even wear their gym clothes to the gym – they change there.
    5. Any sort of summer clothes before it hits 80°F, maybe even 85°F. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worn a dress with no tights in 80°F weather and had Spaniards interrogate me about how cold I must be!
    6. Running shoes anywhere but at the gym and other outdoor excursions (and maybe not even at the gym – Spaniards seem to like to wear street shoes at the gym….and swim trunks).
    7. Ugg boots – I can spot an American college student from a mile away because of these things.
    8. Wear sports paraphernalia, or better yet, wear a hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap (oooh, or a visor!!) representing your favorite team! Don’t forget those running shoes either!

In case you’re not super eager to look like an American, why not Spaniard-ize yourself? Here’s how:

    1. Wear anything with “GAP” or “Abercrombie & Fitch/A&F” written on it. (I didn’t know Gap even sold stuff with their name on it anymore. They must apparently do so in order to fulfill the massive European demand for stuff that says “GAP,” because certainly no one in the US is buying it – not since 1995 anyway).
    2. Men: wear really colorful ties and pants. Actually, all parts of your outfit should have colorful potential (salmon is a particular favorite).
    3. Women: wear tights, boots and scarves until it reaches at least 85°F.
    4. Older men: messenger hats = instant Spaniard (a cane and a cardigan will give you added street cred).
    5. Women: every once and awhile just wear LOTS of purple. Make sure everything you wear is some shade of purple – it doesn’t matter what shade, all purples match and you can never ever wear too much of it.
    6. Ladies, during summertime, don’t leave your genie/hammer/parachute pants at home.
    7. Wear Levi’s and only Levi’s – no other jean exists in your world.

I was bound and determined to get photographic evidence of these fine specimens of American-ness and Spanish-ness, but you see, it’s not so easy trying to discreetly play paparazzi. Lord knows I saw my fair share of people looking very American at airports in the last weeks while in the US, and no joke just today after 15 minutes in downtown Madrid I’d already seen three people proudly donning A&F t-shirts. But alas, I have no photos. That said, if you spend just a day walking around Madrid’s center, my point will easily be proven. You just can’t help but chuckle at how distinctly our cultures express themselves even though it may not seem so obvious to the inexperienced eye.

I’m glad we’ve got that cleared up. Now excuse me while I put on my purple hammer pants with a UOP sweatshirt and flip flops.