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Con todo respeto (with all due respect) is what you say to someone in Chile when you are trying to bring them down a notch in frustration, in anger, in hating you. In a place where people don’t often yell at each other in anger, when someone does, you know you’ve got to look in your bag of tricks (with a nod to Felix the cat) and find that one phrase that you can use to defuse the situation before it blows up in your face (did you know you can also say diffuse the situation? I don’t want it to have a romantic light, just not to go kaplow like a poorly-installed oven, so I shall spell it defuse.)

Last night I was in barrio paris londres, which is where these two streets join in a cobblestoney glimmery little neighborhood that has a strange history. For one thing, is it where one of the detention/torture centers in Santiago was, which is now a monument of sorts. During the día del patromonio, Margaret and I went there and took a tour with one of the people who’d been detained and tortured there during the dictatorship. I don’t believe much in bad vibes, but wow did being in this building sure give me the creeps. And when you walk outside there are dozens of little plaques on the street to commemorate those executed at the location. On the día del patromonio there was a red carnation on each plaque.

londres 38, clavel

Paris Londres also used to be famous for prostitution as little as just a couple of years ago, but that seems to have died down a little. Downtown Santiago is a clever little warren of streets that serve a particular purpose, with 10 de julio being where carparts are found, and Tenderini is where you go if you need a blender replacement piece. I guess Paris Londres used to be prostitution, but the streets were clear last night. Perhaps because of the rain. Or a little something we like to call gentrification.

What Paris Londres is not for, apparently, is giant parties, as I had attended one, and on my way out (early, because I’m like that), my friends and I were standing in the rain outside and having a bit of a talking to with the neighbors who were yelling at us for having done a series of things we hadn’t done, including ringing all the buzzers, the situation was escalating, angry words and jabbing fingers abounding when J pulled out “con todo respeto” and all was quiet. Con todo respeto caballero, no fue nosotros. (With all due respect, it wasn’t us!). And the neighbor calmed down and went inside.

And then the police showed up, opened the unlocked front gate and set to yelling at the revelers (I suppose). I can only imagine that no amount of respeto was going to diffuse his ire at the situation, having (I’m sure) preferred to tool around in the van in the glimmery night than deal with pissed off neighbors and loud parties where only detention and prostitution belong. Or something.