UNITED STATES—My grandmother used to say, “All good things must come to an end,” when our trips at the family farm in Idaho were about to end. This feeling kept pulsing in me as Saturday neared, the date of my return ticket from Spain. Just because I quote it, doesn’t mean I liked what Grandma said. As a kid, I thought it was kind of self defeating. As an adult in Madrid, her saying came back, and I was certainly depressed at the idea of leaving a place she sure felt like home.

I would leave Saturday before anyone else, and they would have paella paella. Of course you can’t have everything, but the wish is always there. They were having paella and I’d be landing in Dallas.

Even as the wafts of sadness blew past, this trip was not yet over. The house at Calle Cartagena awoke from its post-party slumber. Pat and Juan David wanted to go out for a walk and dining. Dave America took me to meet Oscar Noviembre at the Italian tables in the historic downtown of Las Rozas. It is a traditional macadamed town square, with a kiosk and and framed ball multi-storied stately buildings that were fringed on the ground by families by tables advertising Cinzano and beer bottles. It was muggy and hot, a perfect night for this. Oscar’s friend from Morocco, who had gifted me the saying, “From Madrid to the stars,” was there.

Dave drank tinto. It’s a kind of watered down sangria. The muggy night helped take the edge of this goodbye feeling. It’s time, before we say goodbye, to reveal the truth about Dave’s stage name: Dave America. He studied music last year at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood and, everybody and their mother assumed that Dave America was his rock musician’s name. Furthermore, this nom d’guitara sealed his American destiny.

Rather, the origin of his adopted name are paranoid, albeit very American. “This name was a way to ensure that all our social media does not repercuss with my professional activities.” This was a disillusioning revelation.

We ordered chorizo. There was some excuse about the dishwasher being drunk. The waiter cleared other tables and brought in elaborately loaded plates. It was soothing to be at the outdoor tables in the sultry midnight and be reminded of similar places around plazas and archways, where I never went in Guadalajara while holding at by the angst over tomorrow’s departure. Since I was a kid, goodbyes did not come easily and early-on I paid dearly for the urge to be funny and hard-boiled instead of heartfelt.

The last night in Madrid, I was living a paradox. Foraging for solace, I was itching for the chorizo to be delivered by the waiter, meanwhile Dave entertained himself making a doodle on a napkin. I made my own cartoon (see above). Having no need for the chorizo after all the marvelous food and drink, I still felt sore when plates were brought to every table, but ours.

To be continued

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)