We could be heroes

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

I guess this is my second-to-last missive from down here in South America’s extremity. Today’s my birthday, or rather, yesterday was my birthday, since it’s about 2 a.m. I’m lying here in bed listening to an old Blue Oyster Cult song on my MP3-playing telephone. I drank a fair amount of wine with dinner and then walked down to the Bar Rodo for a quick one with the bartender, Alain, who doesn’t speak a lick of English but likes to talk futbol—which I don’t speak a lick of. But he keeps the bowl of peanuts brimming.

I’m trying to think when I had a more pleasant birthday. Tonight was special. My Uruguallo parents were having their annual lamb feed tonight. They’d invited their son, his wife and two sets of old friends over. Actually, cooking a lamb on a parradilla (the local version of a barbecue—if you want to get a peek at one, check out flickr.com and search printguy) is a BFD. It takes hours of preparation, and Ricardo—his nickname’s Bebe, as I discovered tonight—was sweating quite a lot. Ana must have been cooking all morning, although I was in school at the time. Quite a spread all around.

At any rate, toward the beginning of the fiesta, I mentioned it was my birthday. Suddenly, it was hugs and kisses all around. I mean, in the states, everyone might have congratulated me on staying out of prison for another year, but here, it was sincere in a way I’m not describing very well. The whole freaking party made a subtle turn to being a celebration of me. I was, am, touched. And here’s David Bowie singing, “We could be heroes, just for one day.”

I wish you could experience this as I lie here on my too-short bed with the window open and the moist breeze blowing through the slats on the shutters—not with me, but you know what I mean.