¡Viva la Fiesta!

Yes, it's Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara again, as it is every August; the time when people here pretend to know or care about our Spanish heritage. And for the first time in my twelve years living here, I had fun!

As usual, my employer was a sponsor of Fiesta, and the company got off at noon today to join in the revelry -- ostensibly starting off by shouting a big group Viva as the carriage bearing our CEO passed by in the Fiesta parade. Greg came by around 12:00, seeing Edward and me still at our desks, and exhorted us to "Come on, we've gotta go get beer and tacos!". We joined his little band, bringing the complement to six, and walked down to State Street. He wanted to proceed directly to De la Guerra Plaza, where all the comida y cerveza stands were, but first he was convinced to snag a just-off-the-sidewalk table at Zelo's (why it was vacant is a mystery), and at least make a token effort to watch for our parade representation. (It turns out it went by while we were there, but we all missed it.)

We all ordered a bit to eat, and our first drinks of the day (a not-too-great blended margarita for me). The subject of "doing shots" came up, and a debate ensued on the virtues of various brands of tequila. Being with Edward, I felt like being a fun un-Clarence-ish kind of guy, so I told the waiter I'd have a shot of Patron Silver (Edward's nominee for best tequila). I was a bit surprised when the waiter brought out six of them; I had missed the part where Edward had bought a round for the table. It did taste rather elegant, not what I was expecting at all. The Indian (dots, not feathers) lady sitting next to me does not drink, so I had hers, too.

Now, the most drinking I've ever done amounts to two whiskey sours or two or three glasses of wine, over the course of an evening, with no more effect than a warm tingling for the most part. I was surprised how quickly I felt more than that after the two shots. I decided to calibrate the effects as I took an experimental walk to the restroom: yep, more effect than I'd felt before.

At some point, it came out that Janet (a fifties-ish cigar-smoking lady with great joie de vivre) might not have a date for the Horseman's Rendezvous later, having "pissed off two" of her five (or six, it wasn't clear) boyfriends the night before. I said I'd go with her if she wanted an escort. Earlier in the day, Jennifer had come around with two extra tickets. (The Rendezvous is a sort-of-not-quite-semi-exclusive barbecue after the Fiesta parade.) I had gone last year because the CEO pressed a ticket on me, but hadn't enjoyed it and stayed no more than ten minutes. Based on that, I declined Jen's offer. Edward demurred also, and it seemed almost that he didn't want to go without me. More about this later....

After the drinks and settling the bill, Greg herded us on to De la Guerra plaza (two of our party going off on their own as they had other plans), where he got some tacos, and we watched some of the Spanish/Mexican bailar exhibitions. He wanted to go into the beer garden section, but nobody else did, and after a bit we returned to the office.

Entering our office, I gave Edward a hug, and found out he likes to hug as much as I do (even despite the two shot glasses I had hanging from a lanyard around my neck), then reluctantly turned to the phone system logs that someone had complained had an anomaly in them. In getting me to join the outing, Greg had "guaranteed" that the data would make more sense to me after I'd had a margarita. It took a while, but on the strength of the margarita and two tequilas, I found the problem and dispatched it. Around three o'clock, Greg and Janet started making noises about leaving for the party. Janet had her extra ticket for me, but now I didn't want to go without Edward. We all looked around the office, figuring Jennifer might have left those extras somewhere; no joy there. Then I remembered that my boss had left his Gold Sponsor ribbon on his desk. We figured that would get us some pull, so we pinned that on Edward and off we went.

Janet bought a bunch of drink tickets and distributed them to one and all. I didn't think the margaritas would be very good (which Edward confirmed) so I just hung around with the group. Eventually we decided we needed to go find Tony (the CEO) and pay our respects, so to speak. We found him at a table full of NetLojix folks, and joined them. After a bit, he said to Edward and me, "Come on, I want to buy you a drink". It was going to be a beer or a margarita, but I guess someone mentioned the earlier shots, and he went over to the full bar. Behind the bar stood a man of at least fifty years, and little sense. If there's such a thing as a bartender's license, his needs to be revoked. Tony bellied up to the bar and asked for three tequilas, neat. The barman asked what neat meant, and Tony managed to inform him, without laughing, that it meant with no ice or water. The man set up three beer cups, and filled them to the brim with Jose Cuervo Especiál. Flabbergasted, we returned to the table where everybody had a laugh at the story. I had found out on the way back to the table that there's a world of difference between Cuervo and Patron. Edward poured a bit of his into a margarita that was handy and advised me to do the same. I, however, bereft of other drink, continued to consume mine neat.

Edward at one point said he was going to join the food line, so I went with him. He was quite cheerful by this point. People had been mentioning that he was smashed, and he'd concurred. I wouldn't have said so, as I think of smashed as being the loud, obnoxious, rude drunks that I've seen occasionally in my life, and Edward was not at all any of those. Returning to our table, we found that the chair that had been between us had now been vacated, and he ordered me to move over next to him. There was about two fingers left of my glass of tequila, but he decided that we'd had enough and moved our glasses into the center of the table. He said they were no longer "ours", but were now "anonymous". But when he later went off to the bathroom, I finished the one that had been mine :)

While he was gone, Tony was going off to make the rounds again, and I playfully asked him to bring me a bottle of water (inside joke). By the time Edward returned, I had my water, and he had brought me a Diet Coke. That was very sweet of him, because he hates the fact that I drink diet drinks, but he wanted to get something besides tequila in me. I intended to drink plenty of water anyway, having read various tracts on how to avoid a hangover. By the end of the evening, I'd drunk probably at least five times as much water as I had alcohol. (The next day I felt no aftereffects at all; if it's that easy to avoid a hangover, why don't people do it?)

As we started walking back to the office, I said to him "You make me so happy!"; he gave me one of his trademark smiles (seeing him smile is an incredible perk of being his friend) and said "That's what it's all about!". And after we got there, he captured me in a wonderful hug that lasted about a minute. Then he decided he needed to be sitting/lying down for a while and pulled me down next to him. I fed him water occasionally. Later he sat on my lap at my computer and played with the windows I had open, reading some of my E2 writeups. After an hour at the office, another friend showed up to take him to a LAN party that I'd reminded him he'd been planning on attending (and had missed the beginning of).

I went home and replayed the day in my mind, smiling the whole time. Happy, happy, happy!

After reading this log, Edward said to me "What a happy story!" What a beautiful person he is :)