Jetlag and drizzle has dominated the dawn days of the year. The former was good for the first night since it was New Year’s Eve and I could make it through much of the night feeling almost like a true Spaniard. I have always liked to go out, but even in my heyday, 4:00 a.m. was about my limit, whereas the real revelers would push on until morning rush hour. I have done that, just never been a big fan of it. My body just gives in. The Spanish are in no hurry on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes they will hang around at home and play games like charades until three or four in the morning and then announce, “Ok. Let’s go out!” I have trouble dealing with people who carry on to Lady Gaga at the same time farmers are rising to milk their cows and my brother is knotting his tie on his way to the 6:00 a.m. express to Grand Central. I become irascible and just plain nasty. But since the biorhythms of my body were about six hours behind, I managed to appear alert and even amiable at three in the morning, when I was at a friend’s house and actively participating in their karaoke game. My voice only sounds good when I am alone and uninhibited by an audience. But when I stand before a listener, be they a couple of friends, everything falls apart…or at least that is what the damned machine on the TV seems to indicate, using words like “bad” or “terrible” and at best, an occasional “acceptable”.
By four in the morning my body began to slouch in its seat and my jaw hang low, and instead of turning into the kind of guy who would spark a riot, I was starting to look like Stephen Hawking, but without the brains. By the way, I was encouraged to see that another writer in this world, one is far more famous and accomplished than myself, admitted in print that Hawking’s famous “A Brief History of Time” was incomprehensible. Not entirely, I feel. The first eighty pages are pretty much easy to follow, but all of the sudden, you slam into this brick wall and say with a dozy look, “Huh?” You read it several times and if anything it becomes less clear. The writer warns you of this, but you read on fearlessly all the way to the end, close the cover and say, “Ok, let’s see what’s on ESPN” in hopes you will find renewed faith in the world that makes sense.
My friend Luis told me he was about to go too and asked me if I minded waiting a few more minutes. As my body had showed signs of slipping into the first stages of a coma, I did not put up a fight. He popped a cigarette out of his pack and slid it into his mouth meaning we’d be there a little longer. Time was as relative and incomprehensible as ever.