I stand outside of one of the many public squares in Madrid as thousdands have gathered to watch Espana play in the world cup on a tv screen a hundred feet wide. I walk past a kid in his late teens with a shaved head and doc martins on his feet, laced with white laces, and I think to myself "I haven't seen a skinhead outside of the US except for those wankers in Berlin" and I am kind of struck with a sense of nostalgia at this lone individual swimming amonst a sea of red and yellow futbol jerseys.
But then I quickly realize that he is not alone. There is another, and another, and then a group of 20, standing down a side street right next to me. My past, unbeknownst to them, catches up with me and I am instantly sweating, trying to read if they have acknowledged my presence. They have not, but I see them scanning the crowd, eyes dark like sharks swimming close to shore. I can sense the juvenile malice and anger creeping off of them. I amtorn out of this by a young girl asking me something in Spanish, I don't know what, and I can't reply because I am moving towards the safety of the metro.
Only moments before I had been at the Archaeological Museum of Madrid, located directly acros the street, looking at ancient Roman artifacts. To say that I was breathless the entire time does the sight little justice. But now I am trying to get away from that public square and I find myself not at the metro, but at a bar, ordering a tall glass of beer.
I sit outside and immerse myself in my new book, "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain, and already in one day I have read a hundred pages and laughed out loud a dozen or more times. I am listening to The Streets, as I found their combination of urban-ness and European-ness to be the perfect acoompaniment to Madrid that I am listening to them over an over again.
Then I am off again, on the metro, no destination in mind but winding up, in a very roundabout way, Sol once again. I walk in a circle three times, window shopping the different Parrilla's (charred meat restaurants) before sticking with my favorite, where the waiter greets me with a handshake (how can one possibly go wrong). Tonight I go cheap, two glasses of beer, a grilled chorizo and potato wedges, along with that fantastic bread with olive and pepper taupanaude. I think at some point that I have been too earnest and taken the plate of chorizo that was set down at the bar seat next to me, occupied by an old man. Halfway through I realize this when his chorizo comes, but he had ordered first, and I apologize in Spanish. He is kind, and full of laughter and I make somewhat ofa lonely drinking companion of him for the next forty minutes.
Then it is time for the complimentary shot of liquor,that I cannot pronounce, but it is green and does NOT taste of star anise or liquorice, so I take it and suddenly feel as though I have made friens with everyone in Spain. What's left? Call the girlfriend, fall back in love and head out to a different part of the city to have a final beer.
To the more better Irish Pub where I get a pint of Heineken and smoke my pipe indoors, listening to Led Zeppelin. I read more Bourdain and am at this point drunk, sick to my stomach from too much pipe tobacco and I finish my night by stumbling through the maze of the metro, listening to David Crosby and Graham Nash singing "Mama Lion" and "Carry Me".
The group of young women next to me is speaking English, I can see it with my eyes even though my ears hear 2 part harmonies. I take off the headphones and ask in Spanish where they are from. New Zealand. I reflect that I knew English by sight, and give into drunkeness as I ride the metro home, singing along in my head, feeling dizzy, and more alive than I have ever felt before.