...and the fun continues unabated from the only Internet cafe I could find open on a Sunday. It is still phenomenally hot, and I am thrilled to feel beads of sweat whizz down my back and saturate my dark green top. The Spaniards are currently keeping their distance.
So, Friday night was interesting. Knowing that the locals were by and large going to stay out all evening for the first night of their weekend, Nothing Man and I decided to make enquiries and go native, avoiding the gangs of Guiri Brits throwing up in the beachfront Discotecas and mingling only with themselves.
We started off in Havana, a nice modern bar with the gorgeous friendly barmaid, then moved on to Modcafe which in London terms would be a ´pre-club´ bar; funky music, cocktails, that kind of affair. In fact, this was working out very much in our favour. In these non-British bars, Gin and tonics and various other mixers were much more sensibly priced, plus the women were somthing else with the tans and the hair and the such-and-such. Stunning, in other words. I noted with interest that women over here make their interest known by staring back when eye-contact is made, a self-assured and unblinking poker face that is both exciting and terrifying all at once, mainly because I couldn´t tell if this staring at me was actually a come-on, or just a simple gaze at the wonder of God´s more hideous creations.
There was a pattern to this evening. Around one or two am, people began to migrate from the Modcafe to the next Spanish bolthole, ironically called O´Reillys. This place was a long cavernous pub/nightclub with a cool annexe at the rear. Nothing Man and I got our mixers and chatted in here, tears welling up in our eyes as we saw quite possibly the most perfect girl ever to ignore us. This place was very close to heaven. By 4am, O´Reillys too began to thin out, the crowds heading to a bar called Phama. Spain seems to have no laws regarding occupancy and fire exits as surly bouncers let a steady stream of t-shirted clubbers into this crammed, sweaty building that played Spanish hits. We were a little more out of our depth here, not being able to recognise the songs and forced against a nearby wall to peoplewatch. By 6am, still largely sober and not really that bothered about moving on to the final club in the area, we walked home via a burritto stand and chatted to some drunker Spaniards about Argentinian West Ham striker Carlos Tévez, for some reason. (My contribution to that conversation: Nil.)
But last night took the biscuit. This was the evening that signified that there´s more to life than a constant succession of boozing in a variety of bars.
The first mistake I´d made was to choose this night, Saturday night, as our pinnacle of fun. I had bought a new shirt of purest white back in London, and it was to be my ´Pulling´ shirt. Herein lies a rudimentary error on my part; my constant inability to appreciate that I´m not the kind of bloke that can just go out and pull, even if I´d quite like to. And it doesn´t help when the competition consists of more athletic, darker, swarthier men than I. Their toenail clippings are better looking than my entire head.
So I´m in this shirt, sleeves rolled up, lobster-burnt face poking out at the top. I am wearing beige slacks and smart brown shoes to add to the casual summer look, and I smell of musk and balm and slight desperation. Nothing Man is suitably attired, albeit in darker clothes. The first sign of trouble came 20 minutes into our walk to Fuengirola Centro: Some teenagers walking behind us wolf-whistled. We both felt awkward but ignored this. Some time later, they made kissy noises and we decided that we´d walked far enough ahead to ignore them. I now felt very rigid and formal, and noted with fear that virtually every other human was wearing a t-shirt and shorts for their night out. I was sweating liberally now on this very humid evening, and our non-stop walking hadn´t helped. Nothing Man pointed out to me that I was now leaking very visible spots of perspiration. On my front were blotches. When he checked out my back, he said I had managed to form an imprint of Elvis.
Damn this cotton rag!
I was now starting to get paranoid. We continued to walk, continued to track down a restaurant, but all were mobbed. Because I looked like I´d showered in my shirt, my ridiculously conspicuously smart and now wet shirt, I didn´t want to go near crowds. I wanted a rock to crawl under and hide. I talked of getting a cab back to the flat to change, this comment making Nothing Man acknowledge that this evening was as good as dead in the water.
Salvation came in the form of a dark, quiet restaurant, regrettably staffed by gorgeous waitresses who seemed concerned that I was about to die. A kindly woman at the next table took pity on me and offered me her ladies fan, an implement impossible to use in a manly way. I cooled off. We ate. I felt less stupid. We went to Modcafe, remarkably busier than the previous night yet still curiously easy to get served at the bar (In Britain, getting served in a crowded bar like this would be hell due to our heavy reliance on alcohol to make us talk to people.) Some women from the previous night were back again. Some staring. I noticed Spaniards chatting to one another whereas the only people stood in a corner ogling the other patrons seemed to be my companion and me. I also noticed that when the Spanish - in fact, continental Europeans full-stop - want to traverse a crowded bar, they do so by barging through them, shoving, elbowing, and slapping out the way, and doing so silently, moodily, certainly without a Perdon passing their lips. Several times last night we were the victims of such a barging, feeling largely indignant and offended and British.
And now, we were feeling the frustration of not being able to talk to anyone, not being able to interact with the women we recognised from the previous night, and not even sure that they´d want us to approach them anyway.
´We should know our place´, I screamed into Nothing´s ear. ´We should go down to the beachfront with the rest of the Brits.´ Nothing nodded in agreement, and we headed for the seedy strip of bars and drug dealers and Cockneys handing out tickets for free shots of vodka.
We walked along the front, past the police, and through the al fresco hellhole that is Old Town bar, a 15-year-old Ace of Base song screaming through their speakers. The women looked less tanned and more burnt, less classy and more weighty, less natural and more tattooed. Spanish teenagers seemed to decamp on the other side of the road, nearer the beach. This side of the road was barside and thus, British. A man with bloodshot eyes shook my hand and pulled me towards him, refusing to let go.
´You want cocaine?´ he said.
´Not today thanks.´
And with that, he dropped his price to around 35 pounds. God only knows what it would´ve been cut with; mints and crushed lightbulb, perhaps.
We turned left at the huge ´London Pub´ and walked towards the Discotecas. Some Spanish teenagers were stood outside looking moody and aggressive and keen to assert themselves on this little corner of their town which has become overrun by foreigners. One lad came out of nowhere and walked right into me, forcibly, shouldering me quite deliberately into my chest and walking off without saying a word. Instinctively, I patted his back and said cheerfully ´Careful, mate´, but the pat made him stop in his tracks and stare at me. I ignored him. At 33, I wasn´t about to get drawn into a fight provoked by an angry 17-year-old boy. I waited for a fist to strike the back of my head, but it never came.
Next to me, a nearby girl from somewhere like Kent offered us tickets for free schnapps but we declined. Nothing Man looked at the bars on offer, the same ones we´d visited when we first arrived; loud, British, seedy, tacky, and said ´Fuck this place. Let´s go back.´
I was largely indifferent myself. Not bothered if we went in, not bothered if we didn´t. And as we made our way up this road and back to our flat, a young girl was crouched on all fours to our right, making dry heaving noises.
'Fuckin' 'ell Amy, let´s just get a cab and fuck off home!', said one of guys stood over her.