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Antioxidants: The Invasion of Iberia by Tall, White Americans, Vol. 3

27 May 2008

The continuing saga of the train ride to Lisbon and the shenanigans that ensued.

So let’s recap: we’ve taken Lisbon for all she had to offer, are completely satisfied with our experience and are now at the station waiting for our train while figuring out how to get our various doctor friends to throw their soon-to-be-abundant cash into the kitty to pay for an apartment block that, given their ridiculously busy schedules, they’ll never be able to visit but we’ll appreciate in their stead, and that Peter can decorate with Stars and Stripes tile patterns. Cause that’s his idea of “blending in”. Oh yeah, and Poor Friend Jenny is on the floor of the dirty-ass train station bathroom making long distance calls on the porcelain receiver.

Trainside, we’re greeted by the same lovely Portuguese hottie that checked us in back in Madrid. Because of our unexpectedly good behavior on the train over, she remembered us, saying “Ahh! The family is back! Have a good trip?” complete with big smiles. We were SO in. We got Poor Friend Jenny tucked in and then, as before, headed to the bar car. Cause, really…what else do you do on an 8-hour train ride?

In the bar car, seats are randomly occupied, so some of our group congregates at one end, while Paddy, Big O and I take three contiguous stools between a tall, very cute brunette (so I’m told by the predators in our group; I only have eyes for Al…pause for collective groan) and a very-low-talking-but-seemingly-American-
out-that-German-tourists-tend-to-look-American-and-we-don’t-want-to-be-wrong couple. As the single gents are marveling in their good fortune, Brunette starts chatting O up about what we’re doing here, where we’re from, etc. O replies with our circumstances, adding that they’re all here visiting Al and I, and we’re here learning to speak Spanish. Brunette is intrigued, asking me “Do you speak Spanish?” I shrug and reply “un poco”, which prompted O to ask what I really DID say when people asked me if I spoke Spanish, which is a logical and appropriate question. This drove Brunette to question O, “Why would anyone ask him if he spoke Spanish?”

I swear to Real Madrid / God that the train actually lurched to a stop for a minute at that one.

O recovered first, sputtering, “but you…you just…just…didn’t you just…?” “Yeah, like, but why would anyone ask him if he spoke Spanish?” countered Brunette. A sly one, this fox. I immediately excused myself, drifting over to a recently vacated stool next to Al and the rest of the gang.

And none too soon. The conversation continued to degrade, her vacuous, Valley Girl voice filling the cabin with “uh hUHs”, “likes” and “oh my GODs”. Our end of the bar could barely hold it together. Shortly thereafter O popped up from his wingman post with “Weeeellll, I’m going to go check on Poor Friend Jenny” which really only involved him getting up, turning around, opening the door of the bar car, pausing, coming back in and sitting down at the other end of the bar with the rest of us, which meant that Paddy was now left alone with this intriguing 5’11” stack of…interest…

Judging from his continuing line of questions and replies to her fractured logic, combined with his distinct lack of a “somebody freakin’ rescue me please” look (which could have been the result of the steady stream of beers he was quaffing for survival), we figured he was doing fine and returned to faking like we were minding our own business. All the while, however, we kept an ear open to hear such gems as:
Brunette: “You want some chocolate? It’s from Belgium. It’s got lots of antioxidants.”
Paddy: “Oh yeah? Now what exactly are antioxidants?” (this was not at all a patronizing question; the girl had just said she was in med school, and Paddy figured she could shed some light on the topic)
B: “I uh…I’m not…I don’t know what antioxidants do. I think…I think they’re in chocolate and red wine has a lot, too. I should know this. If I had my computer…. Oh, I shouldn’t say things I don’t know the answers to…”

How very true.

Though the beer is nearly coming out our noses, Al and Dear and Beloved Friend Adi, remained ever vigilant, keeping a steady eye out for signals and debating as to whether or not Paddy needed rescued:
“Should we save him?”
“I dunno, he seems like he WANTS to be there; I haven’t seen any signs or indications…”
“Like what? Him trying to throw himself out the window?”

It was at this point that Big O decided that the only way to extricate one’s self from such a situation was to light one’s self on fire, and since Paddy wasn’t doing that, we figured we should use his pocket video camera to document the carnage. Super-spy Al obtained some Oscar-worthy footage by filming the reflection in the window, complete with sound. It’s stellar. It’s like watching a plumber at work on his knees under your kitchen sink. You know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t turn away.

The conversation continued for a while longer, until a comment about bad beer prompted Paddy to comment, “see, now that’s why people don’t like Americans” (I think the context was something about the big American beers not having any flavor or something like that; either way, that’s not the important part, what follows is). All the sudden out of nowhere, formerly Quiet Talking Couple at the other end of the bar erupted into “What’d you say ’bout ‘Mericans?” in a Southern accent as thick as deep-fried breaded bacon rind dipped in a mayonnaise and butter reduction. This got Paddy dragged into a debate about the merits of American beer; how the US is better than, well, everyone; how Formerly Quiet Guy’s wife can’t eat any of the food in Spain and they just wished there were a freakin’ Applebees somewhere; and other assorted tourist faux pas. Exactly which ones, I’m not really sure, as we weren’t paying full attention due to the fact that we were frantically searching for the emergency exits while trying to quiet Pete who was lobbing conversational Molotov cocktails like, “No, no, no…we like Americans. Hell, WE’RE Americans! We just don’t like Southerners!”. Luckily, Paddy was able to use his charms to placate the dude, just before we were about to pull the “In Case of Emergency Only” lever.

It was about this time (1:30a, maybe) that a rather large gentleman rolled into the bar. It was clear from his rotundity that he was American, and Formerly Quiet Southern Guy—who’s still occasionally trying to restart the battle with Paddy—catches on that he’s American too and tries to get him on his conservative Amero-centric bandwagon. Surprisingly, Gordito was a bleeder from Oregon and the two of them begin going back and forth about politics and Europe versus America and all other sorts of topics that you don’t talk about at the dinner table with family, let alone in the bar car of an overnight train with strangers. This now means that Paddy is caught in betwixt all this madness, with Brunette prattling on about how she “can’t eat poppy seed muffins because the little black things get stuck in her teeth” in one ear and a Bush / Obama / Hillary battle raging in the other. The rest of us, still sputtering over previous comments and trying not to laugh outright over current ones, saw the fuse to the powder keg burning low, and excused ourselves, leaving Paddy, Brunette and the trio of pundits to solve all the world’s problems.

Though we normally subscribe to the Navy SEAL credo of “Leave No Man Behind”, in this case, we couldn’t help ourselves as self preservation took precedence.

About an hour later, Al was in the hallway, coming back from the bathroom and saw Paddy wandering around in a dazed stupor, looking for his cabin….

Will Paddy find his cabin and recover from his intellectual beat down? Will Poor Friend Jenny ever get out of the bathroom? Will our heroes do anything else in Madrid besides get drunk together (again)? Find out with the next and final installment of this thrilling saga!


One Comment leave one →
  1. Countess of Cava permalink
    27 May 2008 12:43 pm

    Please tell me that the brunette on the train really is NOT in med school.
    This is a great read, guys, because since I have met all of you I can see the entire scene unfolding as I read.
    Just one comment: “A friend in need is a friend indeed”! Poor Pat!
    Poor Jenny!

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