Stupid Young Men

12 June 2011

Alicante, España

Two nights here has turned into more, and I keep thanking people for letting me stay another night more. Why? It’s exactly what they want me to do, and it’s no hassle for them at all.

We’re being reckless youths and kicking the ball over (and on to) cars and off walls around the streets on the way to the beach. Daniel and I have blisters from the hot sand yesterday, and we’re not the only ones. Spanish Esteban will feel the heat soon enough. Unfortunately in more ways than one.

He asks me to put his ID in my sunglasses case, and slaps my shoulder. ‘Gracias, man’

Twenty minutes later, we get some lunch, or try to. Esteban asks for my sunglasses case, which I was holding in my shoes, of which I was always juggling around to be able to kick the ball. The sunglasses case is gone, along with my cash and Esteban’s ID. There’s a big communal swear and we retrace our steps all the way back to the street we started at. Nothing.

In Spain, your ID card is everything, like a passport. Esteban can’t buy anything with a card without it. He doesn’t even have a card, because he bought a special ID to withdraw money with. I didn’t know this at the time so I apologised just the right amount without realising: profusely.

The guys gave up after a while and walk back down to the beach, but I keep going with it and lose them along the way. I’m not sure whether this is such a great idea, but I don’t see any point in just giving up unless you’re lazy. I make a complete fool of myself and ask literally almost every waiter and diners sitting at tables outside. Nobody speaks any English, but how I spoke French in a Spanish accent and was understood pretty well is another story. Exhausting the streets, I went to three police stations and gave some numbers to call.

‘Where the hell were you?’ Daniel and Esteban shout.'I was looking for the card, I think you guys gave up?’ 'We lost you. Anything could have happened to you, man.’ It’s true. Anything could have happened to me, but what do they think is likely on a sunny Spanish weekday? It’s beyond me.

All tensions are loosened in an instant when we use the only thing we haven’t lost, the pink ball, in the water. A game of throwing becomes a game of hitting becomes a game of skidding across the water. We were skidding the ball for miles across the water, and becoming bored we modified the game:'who can do the worst, least inconspicuous ball placement to a group of girls’. There is no group of people who haven’t had a ball shoot their way, so good god was it an entertaining hour.

A game without drinking is thus a game playing cards in the eyes of many travellers. I hop on the bandwagon and so does each member of the gang, including the as-yet introduced member Rachel, who doesn’t look a spot on thirty, and is doing medical research. The other night she said to me strongly, honestly and drunkenly that'if I weren’t my age I would be all over you.’, and would constantly give me a share of her litre cocktail.

Anyway, the game is irrelevantly called'bull####’; a complicated variation of UNO.

Cards turns to table tennis. Real table tennis, both in skill and equipment. We play way too seriously on a table, the'net’ part of another table, late into the night. Everyone gives up except us three stupid young men. The older of the stupid young men falls asleep in the chair speaking to us, his excuse being he has slept ten hours in five nights.

We shout, swear and compete mindlessly all while Esteban snores upright in the brown leather chair well past midnight. During rallies you can only hear the movement of bare feet on the dirty concrete ground. 'YYESSS!!!’ I cry, throwing my bat to the ground.

I just won the final of the final set, making me a true stupid young man.

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