Thursday, November 27, 2014

Spanish Birthday

Hair styled, earrings dangling, and lips glossed, we were in the living room trying to pay attention to the soccer match on t.v., nervously waiting for the birthday girl to finish getting ready. “What's the rush?” she protested, “Nobody shows up for dinner anyways until 9:30.”

We looked at each other nervously. Arriving an hour late for the birthday surprise wouldn't do. “We have to be on time,” one of us answered. “People are waiting.”

For the entire week we had excitedly chatted on Whatsapp about the surprise: a private flamenco show in a little cave housed by one of Villacarrillo's bars. I had jumped on a bus 80 km away to come for the party. Seeing old friends was always a treat, but having live Spanish music was the icing on the cake.

The birthday girl's mom, normally very calm, threw open the front door and yelled, “C'mon, go, go! You have to leave now!” The girl, very confused, climbed into the car and off we went. “Why are you driving so fast? Slow down, we're in a pueblo.”

I stammered, “Uh,...I'm just really hungry.”

We arrived at the empty bar and the owner said, “Oh, you're the first ones to arrive.” The birthday girl rolled her eyes in a manner of “Told you so.”

“Why don't you have dinner tonight in the cave?” said the owner slyly. We approached its entrance, which was almost pitch black. “Can someone turn on the light?” said the birthday girl. “I can't see where I'm going.”

“Don't worry, the switch is inside.” I said.

Suddenly, in the darkness, there was a quick strum of a guitar. As our eyes adjusted, we saw a platform flanked by a guitarist and singers. A deep, strong voice pierced the oscurity with a monologue about AndalucĂ­a calling back its daughter to the village for her birthday, which made us applaud with delight.

The atmosphere took a joyous turn with songs of alegria and passion, and in the cozy space people stood up whenever the emotion overtook them, fingers snapping, feet stamping out a gypsy beat. The mood was exhilarating.
As we stood up and danced and clapped, someone asked the girl what she thought of the surprise. “One of the best birthdays of my life!” she shouted, beaming.

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