So, Emily and I went to Spain recently. Barcelona to be exact. Now, we’re 29 so it’s not like we were going for some cheap, Jersey Shore, drunken what-have-you. We’re not 18 for the love of god. We are adults now who have thought about the idea of a 401K. We’re going for the architecture and the oceanfront bistros. We’re talking about day trips people. Happy jaunts into the little “villas” where the waiters nod lovingly when we order our bottles of Cava in broken Spanish. And then they take us to meet their grandparents.
Actually what happened is this, which is what always happens when two American tourists visit a foreign city. We walked around for three hours every night in downtown Barcelona before our tired banter couldn’t escape the fact that we were exhausted and needed a bathroom and a cocktail and had no idea where the fuck we were. We couldn’t have picked ourselves out on a globe at this point.
So our third night there, we end up at a tired Irish bar on the most tourist strip in the entire country. We might have tried for something more “Spanish” but I swear to God it’s like no one spoke English there. I walked up to the bar and boldly order us two shots of Tequila. It’s time to have some fun. Emily looks at me and says “No!” DISSONANCE! There is a break in the ranks. We are alone in a world that doesn’t even have noticeable street signs. We have nothing without each other, and here we are bickering over the quickest way to get drunk. “Whiskey,” she says. WHISKEY SHE SAYS! I’m deflated. I’m tired and deflated and now at risk for Emily’s review of Barcelona being: “Yeah, Margaret was great…but she honestly tried to order me Jose Cuervo at an Irish Pub…….no, I’m not lying.”
I led her downstairs where there was not one but three cute European guys playing cards. JACKPOT! (for those who are looking for the cheap, tourist make-out experience – which, of course, is not us……we saw Gaudi sculptures too. I’m totally gonna write a song about that later.)
“Hi!” we say collectively. Not only collectively but loudly.
“Hi.” they say collectively. Not only collectively but with a noticeable lack of enthusiasm.
The three cute European guys went on with their card game without much notice of the touristas chugging whiskey and tequila to their right. It didn’t take long for us to accept the challenge.
“WHAT ARE YOU GUYS PLAYING?” I screamed.
“Umm…we’re playing a Danish game. It’s…(sigh)…it’s a game people play in Denmark. It’s very hard to explain.”
“It’s ummm….I guess if you want to come over and watch….”
The cute guys went silent as Emily and I loudly scooted our bar stools over to the adjacent table. SCRAPE! SCRAPE! SCRAPE!
“Man, do they make barstools louder in Spain or what?” I said.
“Yeah…(sigh)…yeah.” Cute Guy #2 said.
Emily and I put our elbows on their table and grinned wildly as every one of the cute guys leaned back.
“So, what are you playing?” Emily said.
“Like we said earlier, it’s a card game that they play in Denmark.”
“I fucking LOVE Denmark. I mean, I’ve never been but I have a friend there.” I say.
“No you don’t.” Emily Says.
“I know.” I say.
Everyone takes a drink.
One of the cute guys, and I am not lying here, re-negs on the deal. Almost immediately. We were pulled up to the table for less than a minute when he says…“We actually are really close to the end of the game here…so….”
“Oh of course!” we say. And again, I’m not lying…WE SCOOT BACK TO OUR ORIGINAL TABLE! SCRAPE! SCRAPE! SCRAPE! Though it should have been one of the most degrading moments of our lives, we were just enough Tequilas (and Whiskies…fuck Emily) in. They could have stabbed us at that point and we would have offered to buy them a round.
“How long are you guys in town?” Emily screamed from the next table over.
“Ummm….just till the morning. Just till tomorrow morning. That’s it. This is the last night we will be in Barcelona.”
“That’s great!” I screamed.
Now, here’s the fun part. There’s like 15 minutes of silence between the two tables. Emily and I pretend to have new things to talk about, which, of course, we don’t. We are so bored with each other, it’s getting sad. The cute European guys finish their Danish card game. Instead of graciously cutting our losses and wishing them a good night, we up our game.
“So!” I scream. “Did you guys know…” and here I start laughing. I start laughing because I know who I am in this moment. I know how far from Eat Pray Love I have fallen. I also know, that finishing this sentence will result in the inevitable outcome of Emily and I returning to our hotel room alone…staring at each other and splitting a 4 Euro bag of M&M’s from the mini-bar. With this one sentence, we become worse than a cliche. With this one sentence, I become the 19-year old I have fought 10 years to escape. But, being the writer that I am…I can’t start a story without finishing it.
“Did you guys know that if you weigh all the insects in the world, they will weigh more than all the people in the world?”
Silence. Absolute silence from the cool guys. I sit there with my eyes wide and my mouth agape, twisted into some kind of grotesque smile. I keep waiting for any sort of response. A “Really?” would do. Or even a “That’s weird.” I would take. They sit there frozen except for their hands which are all reaching for their wallets. I start to feel a little awkward. But…BUT then I hear Emily pipe up next to me.
“And…AAAAND…did you guys know that there are three times as many rats as people in New York City?”
I look at Emily and she smiles back at me. And then we laugh. We laugh out loud because we know what path we’ve taken. Which is not the path of the Anthony Bourdain. But the path of the stranger in a strange land with the absolute strangest of pick up lines. We are united in our failure to become genuinely interesting people.
We were laughing so hard that we hardly noticed when the guys quickly rose and made their exit. And three days later, when we saw one of the cute guys we met at the Irish pub (that’s right, one of the guys who was leaving Barcelona in a few short hours) we looked at each other again. And Jesus Christ how we laughed. Then I’m pretty sure we ordered another bottle of Cava.
“Quieres…Queiro…wine with bubbles!…booze dude!…BOOOOZE!!”