“When I get up in the morning, a lot of the time, someone’s just coming home.”
We were having tapas in Madrid with one of my best friends from high school, who has lived in Spain since 1988, when she crossed the Atlantic to teach English for a year or so and ended up marrying a Spanish man. She had three kids in quick succession and now they’re almost grown.
“Your kids are coming home at 6 in the morning?”
“Sometimes, sometimes it’s Alberto. He’s having some kind of mid-life crisis. He’s found some high school friends and they’re sort of … hooligans.” She laughed the easy laugh she’s always had, just going with the flow.
“Well, you know we live in a small town. One of his friends keeps a horse in his back yard. The horse is named Luther. They have a horsecart, and they take it out on the town. So they can drink and not drive. And they dress up.”
“It depends — matadors, flamenco dancers, once like Romans. They decorated the horsecart like a chariot that time. The kids know that if the horsecart is in front of one of the bars, they can avoid that one.”
We utter the kinds of syllables that mean please don’t stop telling me this story, stab at our gambas al ajillo.
“Oh, sometimes they also take a ham. And a big knife.” She pushed her glasses back up on her nose. “I guess in Canada you couldn’t take a big knife into a bar. They cut off slices of ham and give them to people.”
“In the bar?”
“Sometimes from the horsecart. Just in the town. Oh, and there’s a dog. Named Odie. They dress him up too. They’re trying to teach him how to drive the cart.”
The shrimps are gone, along with the asparagus with coarse salt, as I try to digest a life where this is the form a male midlife crisis takes.
J has an afterthought. “Sometimes they skinnydip. The kids won’t go to the pool anymore.”