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August 26, 2009

Spain Thus Far

Spain is hot. Everybody told me it would be hot in August, so the heat does not come as a surprise. Even so, knowing something and experiencing it are two different things. No wonder they nap so much here. Just being outside for five minutes makes you feel as if you’ve eaten a big meal and need to lie down. We’ve been here three days and I’ve spent ninety percent of my time supine.

When I was looking for houses to rent my only requirements were that it be large enough to host friends and that it have a pool. The kids, I figured, would want to spend most of their time swimming because children enjoy swimming the way people from the Midwest enjoy buffets. But even though I got it for the kids, the pool has become our home’s center; each day begins and ends there because it is the only reliable relief from the Spanish sun, which is geographically very close to being an African sun, and we all know how hot that is.

Nor does the house have air conditioning. Most Spanish homes, I am told, do not. I do not know why this is. Perhaps because they are savages. Of course I was worried that this would be like not having running water, but I am surprised how quickly we’ve all become accustomed to being surrounded by untreated air. Lesson learned: the human body is amazingly resilient. Who knew one could survive indoors in the summer without having the discussion about whether “turning it up” or “turning it down” means making the room colder. We have not had that conversation once since being here, and frankly, I haven’t missed it.

We are staying in a small beach town called Sitges, which is south of Barcelona. Sitges is the gay capital of Spain, as evidenced by the muscular men in sleeveless t-shirts strolling around eating flan. Actually I haven’t seen any flan yet, which I find strange. I expected to see flan in Spain the way I expected to see rock stars in London: everywhere. In both cases, my expectations went unrealized. I don’t know where they’re hiding the flan in Sitges, but it’s certainly not being consumed by the town’s large homosexual population. Or if they are, they are doing it in secret, which doesn’t make sense since it seems like the homosexuality would be a bigger secret than the flan. So much has changed since Franco.

Our British friends have joined us here, and our old French au pair, and my wife has an old friend living in town with his wife and their children, recently decamped from Italy. Consequently our vacation has taken on a real international flair, a whirl of unintelligible romantic languages whizzing around me as everybody trades familiar gossip about what it’s like in Milan and Brussels and Connecticut. A confession: international flair makes me squirmy. Yes, the European Commission for Such-and-Such is a worthwhile topic of conversation, but so are the Yankees. Nobody wants to talk about the Yankees here, not even to complain about their obscene payroll. Nor is Taco Bell as popular a topic as I would like it to be. So I am having to pretend to have heard of various Spanish architects and feign interest in seeing cathedrals and museums, and I find myself saying things like, “Doe this kava must come from the northern region?” In America, we never discuss regions. Or kava, for that matter (which is like champagne, only Spanish so it’s made out of paella.)

The Spanish lifestyle if well-known, of course. An early dinner is eight o’clock, and things don’t really get hopping until around ten. This a little much for me simply because I don’t have that kind of enthusiasm for life. Last night we were out until midnight, which felt extravagant. We ate fish and drank kava sangria and finished the night with mojitos fifty yards from the Mediterranean. The kids ran along the beach laughing and reciting Hemingway from memory, which I found to be a touch gauche.

We are here for another week, and our lives have already settled into a lazy, languid pace. Sleep until late morning, then off to the pool where we watch the kids almost drown for several hours, then a small lunch, naps, followed by several hours of discussion about what we are going to eat for dinner. Then dinner with some sort of booze, more hanging out, and finally bed. It is a fine way to end our summer, and I can understand why people choose to come here for vacation. The only thing that would make it complete is flan, but I am too embarrassed to ask where they are hiding it.

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Camille

They're hiding the flan in the smoothies,silly. Else they'd melt.
Don't tell me you wouldn't enjoy a trip to Golden Corral, you elitist.

Enjoy the rest of your time! Enjoy a siesta for me.

Ginevra

"children enjoy swimming the way people from the Midwest enjoy buffets."

so very true. enjoy your vacation.

Citizen Pioneer

Why am I not you?

Christina

They're hiding it in their european man purses, yo. If I were there I'd be all over that secret flan.

Steve

At least there aren't shirtless, sunburned rednecks hopped up on beer and trailer park meth riding scooters everywhere, like there were on my vacation to the Redneck Riviera. I won't even bother with describing what the dudes were like down there.

David

Obviously, this doesn't make me think you need a second season of MMHI all that much.

Bryan Sharp

I wish I could help you with the flan, but I've made a promise to myself to ignore the existence of things that sound like they could be something I cough up when I'm old.

tapioca, Gouda, and Quidditch have already seen similar fates.

Beezus

Bittersweet anticipating the show tonight - last one of the season!!!
So, will this be available on DVD soon? Last year, for my New Year's gifts, I bought 6 copies of "My Custom Van" ... wanna keep the MIB theme going... was hoping to get "MMHI" on DVD.
Happy tapas and naps.

Julie

I'm going to Spain for Christmas. I need to know more about the Flan Rebellion and the non-air conditioned savagery. Although I suspect we won't need it at Christmas. Right?

thecitychicken

Although "...things don’t really get hopping until around ten. This a little much for me simply because I don’t have that kind of enthusiasm for life" was a really funny line, I feel your blog post about your vacation in Spain and your French au pair probably didn't win you favor amongst the working class.

Kris

I have to say, that last paragraph made me quite jealous.

Unicornball - Bill Schwartz

Run around the town screaming at the local Mexicans "¡puta madre!

Felicia

Wondering which particular work of Hemingway the kids were quoting. I'd guess "Old Man and the Sea" by virtue of your location. Perhaps "A Moveable Feast"? REALLY hoping it's not "For Whom the Bell Tolls"...doesn't seem "beachy" enough.

Rafa

If you're in Sitges I'm going to assume you'll be doing at least a day's worth of Barcelona sightseeing. If so, I highly recommend Park Güell, a serene and surreal park on the north part of BCN. It might be the coolest hang out spot in the whole town, and has an amazing view of the entire city; fun for the whole family.

Also, eat some tortilla (no, it doesn't resemble a Mexican tortilla of any kind). Maybe in a sandwich (bocadillo). Just eat it. That and proper serrano ham. The food is the best part if you let yourself experience it.

The Naked Redhead

Whoah, whoah, whoah! Not ALL people from the Midwest enjoy buffets! Some of us also enjoy kegs, all-you-can-eat pasta, and Monk marathons.

Reenita La Mahneetaschmeeta

Great read Mikey, glad you are all having fun and not working hard. Vivito y coleando. El campo fértil no descansado, tórnase estéril.

However, it sounds like you're all getting pretty sauced. Darle un beso a la botella.

Fancy vacation. Looks like you hit the jackpot! Sacarse el gordo. Tener más lana que un borrego.

Hey, how do you know all those good looking guys are actually gay? Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos.

Tsk tsk, sleeping so late! Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.

Stay away from Antonio Banderas! Le patina el coco. Más loco que una cabra.


HTAZ

FROG BOX THE SHIT OUT OF THOSE SPANIARDS!!!

pdutchess

i gotta say...i do not envy you one single bit. you have just described my vacation hell. no A/C? are you kidding me? enduring that for longer than a half of a half of a half of a day would turn me homicidal. wtf is wrong w/ spaniards? f*cking masochists.

suzanne

Michael, what you must say over and over: "Ay! Calor!", while fluttering your fan. It seems to help.
I'm glad you all are having so much fun. Hugs to the kids.

mc

Hi there. I thought I saw you on the Metro today. I said to myself...that looks just like the guy from Ed, and he's with a blonde, non-Spanish-looking woman, and his kids just called him "daddy," so there's a good chance that I'm right, and he's not just some Spanish look alike. So I came back to the hotel and Googled you (wine in hand, of course, as I'm on vacation as well), and discovered that you are in fact vactioning in Spain.

I'm so proud of myself for being right (lol) and happy you're enjoying a great vacation.

I'm tagging along here with a friend who's attending the European Society of Cardiologists congress. Did you notice about 30,000 people all walking around with the same messenger bag that has ESC 2009 on it!!??

There are so many great things to see and I hope you're getting to them. I strongly suggest the Gaudi Cathedral, which is like combining Disney with history and architecture. Also, be sure to see the Gaudi-designed park. Are you posting pics? If you want to see some I've taken of Barcelona, you can friend me on FB. Mary C. Coyle

Enjoy the rest of your vacation!!

Sarah

I went to Sitges year before last, and it was gorgeous! Of course, I can't tell when I'm in a gay city or not. I just thought all the men really liked working out? Savaged, agreed.

Devon

Hi! I live in Barcelona. In fact, I was in Sitges last weekend. It´s a shame you are leaving so soon- I could hook you up with some delicious flan!

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