We drove several hours down the east coast of Spain to a three-day music festival in Benicàssim. I didn’t plan well, and realized once we got there they didn’t have cash machines. I assumed I could get some using my debit card, and I was wrong.
I didn’t know David too well or his friend Christine. David and I conspired on the idea of the festival in his Perpignan apartment, over a cup of green tea and some Phillip Glass. He wanted to see Super Furry Animals and Bjork. I wanted to see Yo La Tengo and Mogwai.
It was August, dusty and hot in the Valencian Community of Spain. David drove all day and spoke a mixture of Catalan, French and English with Christine in the front seat.
In the afternoon, bodies filled the alleyways in the shade, on the ground, as they slept and passed cigarettes. I saw women bathing nude in public showers, and gay men holding hands.
It was coming on dusk when we ran into some of David’s friends from France. We worked our way down to the beach; one of them had a soccer ball and a magnum of sparkling wine. We passed it around as we juggled the ball, and shared cigarettes. The moon was full, and coming up out of the Mediterranean.
It then dawned on me they were gay somehow, as we walked to the festival. They weren’t the stereotype “gay” I had fixed in my head. Instead, they had every bit of machismo as the straight guys. It seemed quite natural.
We camped for two nights in a crowded parking lot: me, David and Christine sharing a tent. I hadn’t really brought a change of clothes, and was scraping by without much food and not nearly enough alcohol. We drank kalimotxo: a large cup of Coke mixed with red wine.
On the morning of the last day I had an accident in my shorts. There’s no delicate way to put it, but it was on my backside, and I attribute it to poor diet. The port-a-potties were all a shambles, and there was no toilet paper to be found, anywhere. I resolved to walk out to the sea, and swim out far enough where I could give myself a proper cleaning.
Another bad idea: I wore my antique 1960s Rolex. I debated leaving it with my sandals on the beach versus going into the salt water with it, and chose the latter. I still have the watch, but I had to get it serviced, and got a good talking to about it from the Rolex guy.
I got myself clean and we drove back to France. As I look at photos of myself with David and Christine now, I wonder if they were gay too: I look like a gay pornstar reclining on the floor of a Spanish tent with David, who resembles Bono with short-cropped hair and large, pink-tinted sunglasses.
The day we got home, I was shaving in my apartment when the doorbell rang, and I realized it was my friend Drew’s girlfriend Paige, with six of her American friends visiting, wondering if they could spend the night? I got stung by a jelly-fish, and one of the Americans said he saw on Seinfeld that urine is the perfect antidote.