A few days late with posting this, but, y’know, pretend it’s Monday morning if you’d be so kind.
It began with taking a Google Maps screenshot on my iPod. Well, actually, it began with standing in front of a selection of eight baseball caps laid out on my bed. I tried them on one by one, dismissed six of them, came back to the other two, and settled on a Milwaukee Brewers cap. A New Era 59Fifty replica of a cap they wore from 1978 to 1993, and continue to wear as an alternate now and again. I had no dog in the Super Bowl fight, but because of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger being a less than savoury character, I’d plumped to root for fellow Wisconsin team, the Green Bay Packers; thus the Milwaukee cap.
Google Maps screenshot taken, iPod stocked up with podcasts that had accumulated during my vacation, and I was ready to rock. Or ready to walk. I’d decided, you see, to walk to a friend’s house. I’d measured it out on Google Earth, and it was about 7.4 km. And it was a long walk. Felt long, anyway. Mostly because the route took me along one mostly straight road for the majority of the journey. I could’ve got a cab, or used a bus, or even done about half of the journey on the Metro, but it was a nice day—not too hot, not too cold—so walking seemed like the perfect way to start the party. Plus, doing a wee bit of exercise before spending the rest of the day boozing seemed like a good idea.
Catching up with baseball talk in my headphones, listening to a couple of episodes of The Bugle (link goes to Wikipedia, because I refuse to link directly to something that is published by a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch) which, rather pathetically, is how I’ve caught up with what’s been going on in Tunisia and Egypt. It’s quite pathetic these days how out-of-touch I am with the news. I have, to a certain extent, stopped paying attention. A cursory look at BBC News, the Guardian, and the New York Times every day, but I’m not fooling myself that most of the current affairs that somehow make it into my consciousness happens while I’m scrolling to get to the sports news. Throw in a two-week holiday, and pictures of stuff going on in the streets of Egyptian cities kinda meant very little to me. (Although, it is one of the great joys of being on holiday: not seeing politicians’ faces for two whole weeks.)
Ninety minutes of sauntering along Paseo de la Reforma later, I was at my pal’s place in the Lomas de Chapultepec area. First time I’d been to his place. In a rather fancy area, too. Big house. I am friends with this guy, because I got to know his friend. I got to know that friend, because I’ve been a friend of his sister for many years. I arrived an hour later than the mentioned starting time of the party. I’m not gonna get all Top Gear on you, and this is something I’ve discussed with several Mexicans who all concur, but timekeeping can often be something Mexicans aren’t overly good at. It seems, from these discussions, that it’s just a cultural thing: a meeting time is mostly a guide, rather than a punctual thing. I’ve found it tough to get my head around this. I tend to be quite a punctual person. If I’m meeting someone at 3.30, I’ll often be walking around the block a few times because I’ve arrived at 3.15. So forcing myself to be later than the advertised start time of a do is something I find difficult.
The game started at 5 p.m., so I aimed to arrive at around 4 p.m. Not too early, not too late; time enough to get into the swing of things a bit before the game started. Of course, when I got there, I was only the fourth person to arrive. A couple of beers, a wee chat, TV on in the background with the sound turned down. Music on. More people arrived, and by the time the game started, everyone who was gonna be there was there. The first quarter of the game, most folks were chatting, one eye on the telly. A few were actually watching, but on the whole it was background stuff.
It’s kinda fascinating watching, and being a part of, a party progressing. From standing around behind the sofas that were facing the TV; chatting with a couple of dudes. And children who tirelessly play, and inevitably attract attention from some or all of the people. Moving around to get a drink, get some food, and whether you return to the people you were talking to, or go off and talk to others. Moments of self-consciousness when you think about going to do something, have a change of heart, and end up stood in a no man’s land, trying to look cool and calm and not attract attention, and casually moving back to another part of the room where you had always been planning to go to, anyway.
As the level of alcohol in bloodstreams rose, the game became more interesting with Pittsburgh scoring a touchdown before halftime. And thus began the only real moment of the game when everyone was watching the TV: the half time show. The Black Eyed Peas. There were people in the room who enjoyed their music. I have conflicting feelings about the band. I don’t like them. But I do really like that “I Gotta Feeling” song (partly because of associations I have with the song) and I can’t help but have a bit of begrudging respect for their ability to write earworms.
Whether it was the Peas, the booze, or the Steelers coming back a little to not look as though it was one-sided, the party got more party-er. Most people in the room were rooting for the Packers, so the result was welcomed. I built Lego “monsters” with an eight-year-old. Making a monster was pretty easy. We both took two of the axle thingies with a wheel on either end so we could make a basic car shape, then just added loads of Lego on top, and smashed them into each other.
Boozy boozy boozing. Kids and parents left and the ten or twelve people left ended up playing a word game. Word beginning with a letter, keep going until someone fails or repeats: they take a shot. Thankfully proper nouns were allowed which made my job easier, considering I only know a handful of Spanish words. And being the author of a worstselling atlas, I stuck with geographical names. Venezuela. London. Mogadishu. Burma. No shots for me, ha ha! And like teenagers, then came truth or dare. Oh dear. I truthed. I dared (shots).
And all of a sudden, when one person decided to go home, everyone moved towards the door. Ride home. Epic stagger up the stairs. Fell into bed. And woke up at midday, hungover and a bit annoyed that I’d slept so late. At least I was until I walked towards the door to go out and get coffee, and the door opened and my utterly exhausted-looking flatmates came in. At that point, I remembered it was a public holiday, so spent the day doing what I believe the Aztecs called “fuck all.”