UNITED STATES—The transcendental discovery in parque El Retiro in Madrid that it was possible to walk in the street and drink wine was mollified by something that happened outside the bar Aleatorio, where we presented out bilingual journal. I took a bottle of beer outside and was harshly rebuked by a man from Tunesia, who had a very harsh manner.

No doubt he was the owner of the bar. I docilely went back indoors to piece the thing together. The best I can tell you is it was still perfectly legal to drink on the sidewalk, but the bars got penalized when bottles got left outside. Broken glass and all, a threat to the environment.

Here I was in Spain and the long arm of California environmental wishful thinking came here to bite me. Off we went after the evening, a little tipsy and with the noble ambition of getting tipsier–who could ask for more, on the muggy night streets of Madrid.

Before leaving the bar we said goodbye to the bartender, poets and publishers at the bar Aletorio, and they turned out to be to whole and complete owners of this literary bar which had been so lucky a place to launch 80 mph. And the arrogant man on the street who turned me back inside and freely insulted the Russians was sort of the bus boy. This episode was one more piece in the puzzle of a heavenly place that had issues simmering.

We went to a place called Firehouse and it was American-influenced. Vintage posters from James Brown and the Rolling Stones festooned the walls. We had some more beers and I went outside to join some youth lounging by the cars and smoking. It was a scene out of an American movie, and why America isn’t playing that movie–living it–any more irks me.

When he left the fire house en route to something new and splendid, somebody might randomly mention the rabbits and evoke laughter. The rabbits came to the fore Tuesday morning in Las Rozas Village market. Juan David and I was scoping out the place where shops were specialized, the fruit vendor, the fish vendor and there was the man who marketed poultry and rabbit. Intense close-up on an skinned rabbit in the glass case, quite helpless.

We went right up and the shopkeeper straightway talks about recipes, while neglecting another customer in line. “You can make rabbit with garlic, there are any number of ways.” Interested that the vendor had no notion of how fascinated and creeped out we were by the flayed rabbits, he said, “How much would you like?”

The rabbits became a running joke the previous night we got back to Las Rozas and on calle Luxemburgo rendezvous. At a long table lots of Estella Galicia beer flowed. Dave America talked about Toledo and and eatery that specialized in rabbits. He christened it a typical Spaniard dish and spoke about this fabulous eatery that served the most succulent rabbit, served with great ceremony and later a plate is broken.

Lucilla and Miriam at the table dryly commented that rabbit “is not a typical Spanish dish.” They turned out to be right.

The pilgrimage of night spots continued after our presentation, from the Firehouse, we wound several blocks to a disco. It was crowded and nice to seem to magically slip by the line. Music was blasting, warm bodies were gyrating, and the wonderful energy was still flowing, along with the beer, as the clock turned farther away from midnight and toward daybreak. I decided to have a Cuba Libre and they served me one bien cargado. The zest of the present and the spell of nostalgia met in this drink.

When we left to walk back to the car, a crack of day shone in the east. As we walked to Puerta de Atocha there were people out walking their morning dogs, a few dressed for work. And the streets of Malasaña were livened by garbage trucks the clinched the curbside cans and let out a humming roar and but an exclamation mark on a heck of a night.

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)