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Little Drummer Boy and the Drunk Entourage

In the "Cult of Escapism": Little Drummer Boy and the Drunk Entourage

Friday, March 4, 2011

Little Drummer Boy and the Drunk Entourage

I’m struggling to keep the beat and I’ve already given up trying to understand my host’s nonsensical, tri-lingual speeches. It’s sunset on the side of the mountain overlooking the valley and I’m playing tamboritos (literally, little drums) with a drunk couple as their friends watch and nod in and out of consciousness. As the sun descends, so does their ability to play and speak coherently. I take another sip of the bitter, stinging chicha fuerte (literally, strong juice – it’s a fermented grain alcohol with corn in it) and wonder if it’s worth drinking faster to try to catch up.

The wife bangs inconsistently with one broken and one complete drumstick, singing the same three songs in succession, as her husband strokes a ribbed gourd (like a washboard), swaying a little with either the rhythm or the chicha. I’m alternating between a hand drum and my harmonica. The drunken spectators are big fans of the harmonica and I enjoy watching them lurch awake and jeer when I play so I soon abandon the drum. We mostly play like this, completing as much of a song as possible until the wife inevitably loses the beat, starts laughing, and then shakes my hand. Then there’s a monologue.

By now, I speak Spanish confidently and rarely have trouble communicating. But I don’t yet speak drunken Spanish and I certainly don’t speak drunken Spanish-English-Ngoberre (Spenglerre?). “What is your name!” the wife hollers at me and then doubles over laughing. Then comes a sentence that begins in Ngoberre and ends in Spanish. I try to distinguish questions from statements based on her tone. If it feels like a statement, I nod knowingly and say “Yeah, yeah” or “That’s true.” Questions are tough, so I generally just answer “Yes” and that seems to satisfy her. A classic drunk conversation strategy.

A few times, the hosts ask me to sing. Now, I played the drums in college, an instrument known for its lack of vocal contributions. But I figured my gringo-ness and some cover-up harmonica playing might deceive them and I belted out Roadhouse Blues by the Doors. This earned applause from the drunken spectators, so later in the night I butchered other classics like Whipping Post and Fire and Rain by James Taylor.

After two hours of chicha on an empty stomach, I thought it best to go home and feed, so I left the folks how I found them – all sloshed, some singing and the rest slouched over.

PS - Check out on Saturday for an article of mine titled "Stabilizing – Spend Less and Send Less"


At December 18, 2012 at 10:03 AM , Blogger bama said...

Determined to comment on every post, this one makes me feel dizzy sloshed - - contact drunk?


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