Tanico

– So yeah, when we get hungry we can just walk and there’s this place around the corner, next to the Russian church… we can order a half parrillada… if you are feeling carnivore tonight.

– Arrr, she purred, and they laughed. Raúl raised his hand, the waitress brought the bottle and some more ice and lemon, and refreshed their aperitifs. I noticed the Russian church, she said. Crazy blue cupolas. Nice building. This city really surprises you all the time. You don’t expect Russians in South America. Or just the other day, that whole area full of black crow Jews, what you call them…

– Oh the… I know… the religious guys with the beards and the black hats…. Orthodox, Hasidim, right…

– Right, reminded me of Christiansands… kind of surprising to see so many of them here….

– We might see one eating bbq tonight, why not…

– As long as it’s not pork bbq!

– So let me ask you something about those times, Christiansands… about the time I met you there… you already knew what you wanted to do, right? As in, careerwise and all. ‘Cause I remember you were involved with this guy, from this outfit that was kind of big back then, you know what I’m talking about, right? Kind of like a stoner, semi-hippie revival in the early 90’s, they were all over MTV for a while…

– Oh, I know. Yeah, him. Not a relationship or anything though, just friends like…

– Pretty close friends, yeah, and you were working with them and all… and at some point you started trying to put some distance there, got yourself into some threats and heavy stuff right…

– Yeah, sure

– And I was thinking, how young you were at the time, and how, what’s the word I want, persistent in pursuing a career in show business, if you will, the dogged determination…

– You could put it like that

– I mean the determination, as a young girl, a virgin almost, to dive right into that world of squats and project towers and smack and… yeah, treacherous, so very tricky right, full of piece of shit promoters and club owners and wannabe stars and groupies and whatnot…

– Hah, it almost sounds like you know it yourself

– Oh no, I don’t, not at all… I just listened to you over the years, in Christiansands first, then in your letters and emails…. but I remember the drive, L, you were on fire almost, with so many plans for when you got back, and they all had to do with that, show business, finding the next big thing, and being there, being there for it… when I think of it, I never met anyone with such a clear vision, such drive, like I said… well, maybe some chicks in college, you know, very determined to I dunno, become lawyers and marry other lawyers and…

– Have lawyer babies

– Lawyer babies, right. But your stuff, it seems a little different, it seems very particular… who wants to be a Marianne Faithfull? What kind of goal is that?

– Marianne Faithfull my arse, Rulo. You got me wrong there. I never wanted to be her, never was. First of all, I’m working class, she was Vienna aristocracy for fucks sake…

– That stuff still matters where you’re from, eh…

– Not really, not anymore. But there’s many other things. I never slept around, for one. She’d shag anything famous within reach. I had no artistic inclinations of my own. You know, she was an artist herself, not just a muse, a druggie femme fatale who would introduce the boys to Russian writers and new drugs… I was a hard worker, man. I would just obsess over every detail, make sure everything happened the way it was supposed to happen, that’s a lot of work, a lot of calls, a lot of everything… no time to be the glamorous, mysterious muse for a bunch of lucky junkies… I had to hire people, fire people, go to war over royalties and arenas and really be the tough bitch many times…

– So OK, I get it, you’re right, but then who? Who would you compare to, in your adventures in show business management? Colonel Tom Parker? Brian Epstein? Malcolm McLaren?

– Hah! Malcolm McLaren, that’s funny. No, man, I don’t know, I was just lucky… first, like you were saying, to know from a young age, very young age, what I wanted and more or less how to get there, then for recognizing the right times and places, and after that no more luck. It was all hard work. Very hard work, many years of hard work 24/7. A lot less glamorous than you think, for sure. You can see the hard work in my face. A long series of clashes and negotiations and hiding in toilets to cry, making things happen and never a word of thanks… whatever, I can’t complain. You said it, I knew what I wanted, and got it. No complaints.

– A good epitaph, that. For your tombstone, many many years from now. And it wouldn’t be like you to complain. By the by, I love every last line in your face, and I love the fact that you don’t do a thing about it. And there’s been fun times and all, too, interesting people to meet and whatnot…

– You’re right, and we can talk about this again some other time, but now I’m getting weary of it, it’s a long time ago and honestly, I don’t care about it anymore. It’s hard to explain, it’s like something you used to do and were good at, and all of a sudden stopped interesting you. I’m not interested in talking about what happened all those years ago tonight. Some other night maybe… I’d like to hear more about you growing up here, it’s such a trip… like, who were your buddies? Did you have friends at all?

– Hah! There she goes. No, I didn’t have any buddies or friends. My family kept me chained in an attic, and sent a servant with a bowl of soup once a day, and some toilet paper and a fresh bucket, until I turned 24 and was able to escape to Christiansands, incognito…

– Silly… go on, tell me a bit about all that… it’s so nice here with my aperitif, I’m digging the Bar Britanico more and more….

– Did you know that they deleted the “Bri” part of it during the Falklands thing back in ’82? For a while, the name of the place was “Bar Tanico“, hah….

– What’s “Tanico” mean?

– Nothing! That’s the funny thing. They just went the easy way, removing the “Bri”, so they didn’t have to paint new signs, you know, “Bar Francés“, or “Bar Brasileño“….

– “Bar Ruso“, given the Russian church around the corner…

– “Bar Ruso“, for sure… and then we’d start a war with them…

– And you’d have to change the name again, to “Bar Uso“!

– Right! Right! Or to “Bar Britanico” again! I mean can you imagine the expenses in paint and brushes and all that? No time to sell coffee and wine! Get out! We’re working on painting and repainting our signs here! A new war, you say? Damn! Manolo, bring me the map again! We have to pick another country!

– You’re a funny guy… I never knew you were funny when we first met…

– I wasn’t, I wasn’t… I learned it there, I told you… with you… learned to cry and to laugh…

– Who were your friends then?

– Oh, for the longest time it was 3 of us: me, Enzo and FedEx

– FedEx?

– Yeah, well, Fede, Federico, but we called him that because he would buy and sell drugs via FedEx, you know, the shipping company…

– But how old are we talking here?

– We all went to the dark side at 13, 14. Enzo went to live in Iraq, Baghdad. FedEx started fucking older women for money, and then older men, and dealing and cheating and being this loose cannon. I just decided being a teenager was the worst shit, which it really was for me, and started acting and trying to think as an older adult, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes all the time, reading through the night, feeling like a French existentialist in his 40’s, not a 16 yr old healthy boy…

– Hold on… you said Baghdad?

– Yeah, my best friend from school, you know… his mom got a job teaching Spanish to Saddam or something, at their University, and just went there, took him along… during the Iran-Iraq war… he used to send me cassette tapes of the air raid alarms, and then the missiles and bombs hitting Baghdad…. had these crazy stories about people shooting in the air for winning a World Cup qualifier and then the next day many dead from the stray bullets… executions in public parks…. hah…. we were 13, his mom converted to Islam, then took him to Kuwait, then back to BA… he brought all this Duty Free stuff when he came back, cartons of Rothman’s and Phillip Morris, bottles of Johnny Walker… he tried to bring an AK47, but customs got it from him in Portugal or something… the coolest thing… I can tell you one thing, I was the only one getting letters from Iraq! Well, and FedEx too. FedEx would FedEx him coke and speed…

– You guys were… 13?

– Yeah, 13, 14… I know… I don’t know what it was, honest… I mean we all came from divorced parents and all, but there were other kids in the same situation that never got as crazy as we did. Enzo and FedEx were into fights, starting random fights, tossing bottles in bars to see what would happen.

– Not you?

– Nah, not really, like I said, I was into reading stuff and getting high… and jerking off, of course…

– Well, obviously…

– But we all started with the girlfriends pretty early too… what times… FedEx and me managed to call Enzo to Iraq when The Cure came to BA, and tease him, tell him that we had all this coke and girls and tickets to the show, and he was stuck with his crazy mum and the fucking ragheads, that the next missile from Khomeini was sure to get him and he’d die without a blowjob or a Cure concert… we thought we were being funny, and years later he told me we had made him cry so bad for a week…

– Cruel

– Cruel. Sometimes we are cruel and stupid. Listen, I’m hungry. Let’s go for a steak, eh?

– Let’s. But you need to keep telling me your stories, they are brilliant!

– They are nothing compared to yours

– You’re wrong there. You can’t imagine how wrong you are. C’mon, let’s go. We’ll talk again after drinking the wine and eating the cow.

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