Partying with Spaniards is humbling.
Picture the scene: it’s three am and you’ve been dancing for hours, but not with as much panache as those around you, because they’re Spaniards and you aren’t, and even you are starting to question the wisdom of ordering that 54th round of tequila and yet it somehow has been ordered because Spaniards and tequila go together like, well, Spaniards and tequila. The evening eventually ends and you make your way home in a daze, wondering, “How can an entire nation behave like this all the time? Is this the real reason for the debt crisis?”
The next morning you awake, stunned and euphoric and your first thought is: “I’d like to do that again.” Your second thought is; “Can I do that again?”
I met the Spaniard and her friends on Cinco de Mayo at a cute little Mexican joint in Williamsburg. My husband had been gone exactly two months and I’d walked to the restaurant with the feeling I was trying to get used to; a hollow, frightened falling emptiness, as if I’d just been punched hard in the gut and pitched out of a plane without a parachute.
A night with Spaniards totally did for that.
A band played late—till until they practically fell over—and then they were replaced by a loud sound system. We danced. And then we danced more. A cheerful bunch of filmmakers and photographers, the Spaniards are all old friends and they race around the city in a big, chattering hive. I envied their unspoken and united commitment to having a good time.
‘My’ Spaniard told me about the film and culture festival she organizes every year. She’s a filmmaker, with loads of exciting projects on the go and undecided about whether to live in Madrid or New York but really wanting to ‘divide her time’ as they say on the dust jackets of the books of successful authors. She also said she was looking for a place to stay for a few weeks.
A little later in the evening I said my apartment is feeling too damn big, why don’t you come and stay with me?
When my husband left one of the things I did was to draw up a list of stuff that should probably happen each day. (I love to-do lists; I can ignore them until the end of time.) In the beginning it had things like ‘eat’ and ‘don’t imagine him with the other woman’ on it. (Yeah, neither of those got out of the gate.) But I also had an inkling that if I was going to survive this awful experience with any kind of grace and growth, I would need to reach out to others. So I put ‘reach out to others’ on the list. And I had a fleeting (yet noble!) vision of me, sensibly shod and much greyer than I actually am, volunteering at a small museum gift shop or no-kill animal shelter.
But there are lots of ways to reach out. One is to invite a woman you’ve known for the better part of three hours to stay in your home. Skip the purchase of Clarks.
The Spaniard wrote the next day, thanking me for the offer and graciously saying that she would understand if I wanted to retract it in the clearer light of day.
I quickly calculated the odds of her being a Spanish female Ted Bundy (My grasp of the laws of probability are imprecise but just how unlucky would I have to be to get divorced and dismembered in the same year?) and said the offer stood.
Everyone should have a Spaniard in their lives at times of crisis. They are indispensable. They buy beautiful flowers. They respond positively to invitations at one in the morning to go out and drink whiskey even if it means getting up out of bed. And once they have installed the requisite amount of alcohol in your system to ensure you at least couple of hours sleep, then they will sit on your stoop until five am talking and talking until you feel a little less alone.
Every Spaniard worth their passport will teach you how to make tortilla Español—just the way their mothers do it. (The secret is in the pan. It has to be small and absolutely, positively non-stick for the flip to work. Trust me.)
Every Spaniard worth their passport will laugh and then clean up the catastrophic mess on the stove resulting from the use of the wrong pan.
Spaniards will assume that your invitation to come over means they can invite all their mates and so a dinner for four will spin out into a party for 14. They will arrive hours late. They will come even when they are so ill that they have to lie on the sofa, because they cannot resist a party.
Spaniards will make you late for important international soccer matches and shriek with excitement the entire way through, especially when Spain is winning, which they usually are. Spaniards will escort you, con gusto, from soccer match to pre-dinner tacos and cocktails, to seafood paella dinner parties, and think that’s just an average Saturday.
In short, a good Spaniard will save your life, each and every time you need them to.