Monday, April 5, 2010

Our new friends, Quicksilver, Eric and the Pope.

I have screwed up another book proof so there was no release last week like I had planned. I also sent it to the wrong address so it was lost for a little while. I swear to God this book is never going to be finished. I’ll be working on it again as soon as I finish this blog post.

Sorry for the delays in posting. I blame Eric and Secret Force. (I spent last week editing Secret Force: Quest for the Pro Tour II and could not pull myself away.)

Eric is our very clever and extremely intelligent friend from Paris who came down to Madrid for a few days. He’s almost as smart as Wendy. Yes, that smart. There was no subject I could bring up that he was not informed about and had an opinion on. We met at the Mercado de San Miguel and, miracle of miracles, found a table. While I held onto the table they went in search of food. Wendy asks Eric “Are you hungry?”

Eric responds “Does the Pope protect pedophiles?”

And thus began our weekend.

We took him on a tapas crawl and showed him our favorite places. We stopped into the place that we think has the best Spanish tortilla (eggs, potatoes onions, and if you’re lucky, maybe some red peppers or chorizo) in Madrid. It’s a little seafood bar off the Plaza Mayor and the first time we went in there we had an amazing bartender who actually took his break, and shared his dinner with us!

We went in with Eric and he was behind the bar. We haven’t seen him for a while despite stopping in every now and then. We get a couple drinks and a half an hour in he tells us “You don’t remember me but I served you on my first night working here.”

“No hombre, I totally remember you! You shared your dinner with us. We ate your fries!”

I am amazed. They serve hundreds of people a day, he hasn’t seen us in eight months and he remembers us. An hour goes by and I ask for the bill and pay it. We have more to see. He comes over with the change and refills our wine glasses on the house. Sure, we can sit a little while longer. For the next two hours we are rooted to our stools because the conversation is varied and exciting but also because Jinn keeps refilling our glasses anytime we take a sip. And he keeps bringing us other tapas to try. All on the house.

The next day Wendy and I took the Ave (high speed train) to Segovia. It was packed for holy week, the streets filled to bursting. We went to our favorite restaurant “Narizota’s” (Big Nose in Spanish) and for some reason, I remember our last trip far better than Wendy. Mostly because it’s in the book that I have been revising and editing for the past year, but I also remember things I didn’t even write about. One of the things I remember is our waiter at Narizotas. No matter how busy it got, he was always attentive, always kind and just kept moving faster and faster to keep up with the people. There was no limit to his speed. We approached the restaurant and as I’m reminding Wendy of this, I see him. “There he is. Awesome, we’ll have good service today.”

We sit down, he looks at Wendy, looks at me and says “I remember you. You were here about 18 months ago, right?”

What the hell? They serve a thousand people a week and he remembers us?

“Yes, we were. And I remember you. Do you know who ‘The Flash’ is?

“Yes, but I am from Marvel so I am Mercury.” (It only occurs to me later that the substance ‘mercury’ is sometimes referred to as ‘Quicksilver’, the most famous Marvel speedster, so either I translated badly or the character’s name in Spanish comic books is Mercury.)

I can’t believe that Jinn and now Jesus remember us. I’m also quite surprised that Jesus knows the difference between Marvel and DC.

He comes back over with our wine and asks us “Now, who is Captain America?” Which he explains means “Who is going to be brave and try the first sip of wine?”

A group of six Canadian male students sit down and they are struggling with the menu. And by struggling I mean they don’t understand a word of it. They ask the woman next to them for help and she is some weird English lady that doesn’t provide any help. Usually I let Wendy handle these things but her back is to them and eventually I think “You know what? I can handle this.”

And I do. I go over and explain 90% of the menu to them, item by item. I should have just skipped to the steak. None of them care about the appetizers, salad, or fish. When I finally get to the meat section of the menu they all perk up. “Steak with fries? Which one was that again?” Then Mercury comes over to take their order and I explain to him how they want things cooked, except for the one guy who wanted his steak “Well done.” I holler over to Wendy “How do you say ‘well done’ in Spanish,” because, well, steak just isn’t usually cooked that way in Spain. We eventually decide on muy hecho. They’re able to point to “Heineken” without my help and despite the fact we’re pretty sure they’re sixteen, get a couple rounds. Drinking age here is eighteen, but hey, being Canadian they’ve probably been drinking for years. (To clarify, I didn’t order this for them, just observed it from our table.)

We take a look inside the cathedral and I am surprised. I thought I was getting jaded but it just must be the cathedrals we’ve been looking at. I am just as awed now as I was the first time I came in. We have arrived on the right day. Inside are all the statues and floats for holy week with dozens of Jesus’ and Marys in different poses and outfits.

It is a beautiful day and processions are going by us in the square so we decide to get a table in the sun and enjoy some people watching. After a few minutes Wendy points excitedly over my shoulder “Mercedes! Right there! Grab her!”

The train station is a good fifteen minutes out of town, and oddly enough, there are no taxis waiting at the taxi stand. There is a tiny woman ahead of us, she gets a cab, we wait ten minutes and another one still doesn’t show up. Behind us is a very nice older couple that we start to chat with. Her name is Mercedes and eventually Wendy calls the cab company to make sure the driver of the last cab actually did radio headquarters to send more cabs. He confirms that one is on the way for a party of Wendy and also one for a party of Mercedes. Despite the fact that we are in front, a cab pulls up and the driver says “Mercedes?”

“You two should take it,” she tells us. “You were here first.”

We protest then eventually decide to just share it and have a nice conversation with them while riding into Segovia proper. We find them really captivating. Our hotel is before theirs and we part company.

“They were lovely.”

“I know, I really liked them. Now why didn’t I give them your card so they could call us when the four of us are back in Madrid?”

“I don’t know. I really feel like we missed out somehow.”

“I feel like we’re supposed to be friends with them.”

“I feel that way too.”

Despite the fact that they are going to a friend’s house for lunch, as the day progresses, I know we will run into them. While Wendy looks for a table in the sun amidst the mass of humanity, I walk around the Plaza Mayor looking for them. No luck. “Don’t worry Wendy, I am certain that we will see them again. I just know it.”

It is five hours later and she and her husband walk behind me.

So I grab her. She has no idea who I am at first but brightens immediately once Wendy stands up. We are introduced to her friend and her acquaintance who speaks flawless English and I give Mercedes Wendy’s card which has our apartment phone number on it.

We have a great weekend but the next day it is raining so we spend most of the day inside. We take the Ave back in the evening. Eric comes over that night to play Carcasonne, watch Glee and gossip. He and Wendy stay up until five a.m. talking. I bailed at three. There’s more to tell but I have to wrap this up.

Link of the day -

This should be required reading for kids who need to learn the alphabet, and also to any comic book fan. Thanks to David Gerlach.


  1. You must be quite the memorable couple for all the waiters to remember you...Or big tippers!! Sounds like a wonderful weekend!

  2. Loved reading this and can totally see it all happening. :) xoxo