Sick of the complications which this weekend brought us with the lamentable holiday of Valentine’s Day, Judy and I decided to take advantage of the sunny weather in the afternoon. We went to the Temple of Debod, an Egyptian temple that was transported to Madrid in 1968 as a gift.
I had seen it on a Sunday night for the first time after asking Javi where it was, and why I hadn’t noticed such a giant structure in the city after so many months of running around. Unlike that night, yesterday the park, which is close to Plaza España, was full of people enjoying the rest of their weekend. We sat in the grass under some trees to bask in what was left of the afternoon sun. We talked about relationships, our lives in Madrid, men, everything that we find ourselves talking about at every hour in our little home.
Anyway, we had a potluck dinner on Saturday at our instructor’s house. She lives with her husband in a far northern part of the city called La Moraleja, apparently the Beverly Hills of Madrid. The entire class was pretty much there, and we had a good time. Lots and lots o’ food and drink.
I was planning on going straight home afterwards to nurse my cold, but people convinced me to come out for at least a drink in central Madrid. So we went to this place that had a jazz band playing. Very shortly afterwards I got tired from the mellow darkness in there and peaced out, expecting to climb into my very small but comfortable bed at a reasonable hour and sleep the death-like sleep that I deserved after the grueling week.
As soon as I stepped foot in my apartment about 10 drunken people greeted me in the living room, immediately forced me into a chair, and shoved a lime and a shot of tequila at me. I’ve learned that I will never (conscientiously or no) turn down free alcohol. Apparently my Mexican roommate Berta was throwing a fiesta for her Venezuelan classmates. Suddenly we were playing drinking games, and people were asking me about New York, and Jesús was telling me his romantic life story, and La Vaca was teaching me slang, and Lorena was telling me she had just seen Yo La Tengo at McCarren Park Pool before it closed (!), and then Ricardo was falling asleep on the carpet.
At 6 in the morning, I watched as Jesus shakily poured another glass of whiskey, utterly amazed that with all the swaying he hadn’t managed to pour it all over the carpet. Or, really, that he hadn’t died by alcohol consumption by then. At 6:30 I dragged myself to bed. I’ve also learned that the best thing about throwing a party is that you are only meters from your bed on which you can just plop and pass out.
So I’ve learned a couple of fun new things over the weekend. First, that picture up there is taken from Friday night when me and Monica met up for tapas in La Latina. It’s of a cartoon Michelin Man (like from the tire company) I guess spinning flat pizza dough in his hand. Monica then told me that the flubby rolls on a fat person’s belly are called “michelines” in Spanish, a reference to the the white rolls on the Michelin Man. I made use of the word on a very good occasion later on that weekend.
I also learned a new drinking game called “La reina se casa con…” which means “The queen is marrying…” Basically it’s like a name tag game with two phrases that gets you trashed quickly.
I also saw my first impromptu flamenco performance on Friday night at this tiny Sevillan bar in La Latina. Monica and I happened to be walking by a small street when this deep-throated singing drew us into the bar. There was a small dark man singing next to a guitarist whose fingers were just running break-neck speed over the instrument. It was amazing. People were clapping their hands and stomping their feet and getting really into it. That was the highlight of the night, besides catching up with Monica over some cañas and tapas.
Also, I want to add: Whoever labeled New York City as the city that never sleeps obviously has never been to Madrid. I mean this. I have never seen anyone, ANYONE, love to have a good time as much as the people in Madrid do. On Friday, it seemed like a parade was going on in La Latina with the amount of people sauntering through the zig-zag streets. And it’s not just that they go out; obviously there are parts of NYC where you see people hanging out in the streets at odd hours during the weekend. It’s this kind of ritualized, ingrained custom of having a damn good time that you sense when you see an entire plaza filled with Spañiards sitting back, smoking, drinking, talking. They seem to live for that kind of thing. It’s not taking a break or a having a night out. It’s what they do all the time. They take eating and socializing very seriously. And you would never see anyone alone. There are always the endless groups of friends that arrive and share the rest of the night. Who needs a 24 hour metro when you have the world’s most perfect 24 hour bus lines? And who needs to worry about the metro closing at 2 AM when it never occurred to you to go home before the metro opens again?
More to come on the rest of the weekend…