During my junior year of college, I lived and studied in the southern Spanish city of Seville. The Sevillanos, as Sevilla’s residents are called, really know how to live life properly. They eat lots of pork, drink lots of red wine, and have a penchant for flamenco, which involves a lot of clapping and stomping, two pastimes that virtually everyone enjoys.
I’m pretty sure it was also the Sevillanos that invented the Spanish diversion referred to as botellón.
How do I describe botellón? It’s pretty much the most awesome thing ever invented by the Spaniards, besting bullfighting, paella, and Christopher Columbus.
Botellón involves gathering a few friends to drink al fresco in predetermined location, usually a plaza, but oftentimes just in the middle of the street. Before arriving at this predetermined location, you must stop by a small street stall to purchase a lote. A lote contains four plastic cups, a bag of ice, a bottle of rum or vodka, and a two-liter bottle of coke or sprite, all wrapped up in a plastic bag for you to easily transport your goodies to the botellón, where thousands of youth sing, drink, dance, and make merry until one of their friends throws up or can’t walk straight, at which time you proceed to the disco.
Wikipedia cites as generating “noise, dirt, and moral issues.” This is accurate.
Anyways, back to my story. On this particular weekend my friend Liz, who has for some reason has remained friends with me since I was six years old, had just landed in Seville. Knowing I was under pressure to show her an amazing first night in Andalucía, I gathered some friends to hit up the botellón.
A night out with Liz typically goes one of two ways.
First option: She remains relatively sober, rolling her eyes at your every shenanigan, maintaining poise and sensibility, which always makes me feel like an ass the next morning for having [insert ridiculous activity here].
Option two: she drinks rapidly and with tremendous intent, leading her into a state of mind that her family refers to as “Captain Jack Sparrow.” When Liz reaches Jack Sparrow it’s impossible for her to stand without swaying, and celebrity/animal impressions are probable. Once Liz has reached this point of inebriation, vomiting is 100% certain, the only variable being at which hour she’ll spew.
Liz was very excited to be in Seville, so I suspected she was headed straight for Jack Sparrow. Sure enough, an hour into botellón, she was swaying around, asking a group of nice Spanish boys for fuego (fire) so she could light her cigarette (Liz never smokes). The nice boys’ response was something like this:
“YO TENGO TU FUEGO!!” (I’ve got some fire for ya!) at which point the young Spanish gentlemen whipped out his George W. Bush for public viewing.
Liz’s eyes grew wide. That wasn’t quite the type of fuego she’d been looking for. I was hoping for a vomit right then and there (which admittedly, would have made this story even better), but instead she broke into hysterical laughter and voiced her immediate interest in dancing.
“Quiero bailar!” Liz shouted, leaving her native language behind and speaking Spanish for the first time since arriving in Spain.
I gathered up the group and started to make a move towards the disco. Arriving at the club, I watched a brief conversation between my Spanish friends and the bouncer.
Liz decided this was the best time to demonstrate her skilled velocaraptor impression.
“They say she’s too drunk for the disco.”
I nodded. That was accurate.
“QUIERO BAILAR,” Liz said.
“Yes, Liz, I know you want to dance, but they won’t let us in.”
“Quiero bailar,” she repeated with sad intonation, adding in a pouty face.
“I know Liz, I know,” I replied, offering a comforting pat on the back.
“YO TENGO TU FUEGO!” Liz said, mimicking our nice new Spanish friends’ whipping out of their balls in the street, hands holding her imaginary penis which was spraying something everywhere.
“Yep, time to go home now.”
I hailed a cab a shoved a very reluctant Liz inside.
“No dancing tonight.”
“No balls either, Liz.”
Liz looked down, tear in her eye, feeling defeated that her epic night had come to an end.
Most of the stupid shit Americans do in foreign countries involve taxis. I’m pretty sure US foreign relations could be greatly improved if we just behaved ourselves when going home at the end of the night, refraining from all vulgar activity that rightfully offends cab drivers.
The first two minutes of our cab ride home were fine. Liz continued to mutter quietly between bouts of nearly passing out.
Then I saw her start to convulse.
A tiny trail of vomit started to trickle out her mouth, sending off a putrid odor in the cab.
“Esta vomitando?” the bald, sixty-something cab driver asked me. “Is she puking?”
“Oh, no, she’s totally fine!” I said nervously, voice cracking. I turned to Liz.
“Hold it in, Liz, were almost there.”
This caused Liz to puff her cheeks out like a squirrel with a mouth full of vomit nuts. Unfortunately, Liz simply could not hold it in for long.
Looking back, I shouldn’t have sat Liz behind the cab driver.
Projectile vomit, which seemed to appear in slow motion, spewed out of Liz’s mouth and onto the bald taxi driver’s head. My eyes widened as I yelled a drawn out “noooooooooo!” unable to do anything about the explosive spew landing all over the poor cabby’s cranium.
The cab came to an angry, abrupt halt.
On a positive note, I was able to expand my vocabulary of Spanish profanities by listening to baldy’s unending tirade of rage. On a negative note, this cab driver seemed to be on the verge of violent retaliation, and was saying things about my mother and country of origin that should never be repeated.
Liz’s head remained planted in her lap, as I was frantically digging through my bag for a $5,000 peso note. I shoved the equivalent of US $20 at the puke-covered, screaming cabby and threw (literally) Liz out the door.
Liz tumbled into a heap on the sidewalk. Once restoring her to upright position, I attempted to run for our lives.
Unfortunately, running for one’s life is an impossible task to successfully endeavor when that person is in Jack Sparrow condition and unable to move their limbs without assistance. Therefore, Liz and I’s attempt to “make a run for it” resulted in stumbling right three steps, then left three steps, then right again. We were making very little progress towards my apartment, although we would have been quite successful at trying to escape a crocodile.
“Damnit, Liz, move FORWARD!” I yelled, my hand around her shoulder, attempting to guide her in the correct direction, taxi driver still in view, shaking his fist in the air.
Liz and I did make a successful escape, demonstrated by our current status of “alive.” But that was Liz’s first and last experience with Spanish botellón.