Tuesday 20 August 2019

Tequila madness has its time and place

It was only polite to join in when everyone started on tequila shots
It was only polite to join in when everyone started on tequila shots
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

I am still getting the odd taste of tequila in my mouth as I write. This is most unlike me. I have a very simple rule about tequila. Don't drink it. Nothing good can come of it. And if you are at the point where you are considering drinking tequila then it's time to go home. I have the same rule for whiskey. What good ever came of anyone drinking whiskey?

It's not so much that I gave up tequila. Tequila gave me up. In fact we never really worked. Tequila actually made it very simple for me. Because there was a fair chance anytime I took a shot of tequila that it would come straight back up, and bring some other stuff with it. I make an exception for the odd margarita. But generally I don't do tequila.

My latest encounter with it happened by accident. I was in America, obviously, and I was in quite a cool little bar with my wife. It wasn't a fancy bar. It was a bar that was playing old indie music, and where all the local freaks seem to congregate. And there was one of those friendly young barmen. Not a cool one throwing shapes with cocktails. More a furry little guy whose mom probably despairs of him, but who is enjoying this phase of his life. I ordered two beers and he said it was actually the same price to have two beers and two shots of tequila. So it would have been mad not to have the shots. I think it was to do with the bar, and the guy, and the music, and the fact that we had no kids to worry about. We felt young again, like we were on our J-1. And these American freaks were all being really friendly, so we thought: "Hell yeah, we can do this. Little bit of tequila never hurt anyone."

It was a reasonably successful outing. We have a few beers, a few shots of presumably watered-down tequila, we bought the barman a drink, he reciprocated by demanding we do a few more shots with him. But we got out of there in reasonable shape, and back to the hotel with a crazy Venezuelan Uber driver who told us his story. He had been a top lawyer in Venezuela. He was making a fortune on the Uber driving for now, but he would rise up and he would be a big shot in America one day. I loved this country. Everyone here had a story to tell and they all had big dreams, and tequila was a great idea. It was easing me into this culture, where everybody talks incessant madness to everyone else. My Irish reserve was gone. I was melting into the melting pot.

But then we got cocky and decided to have a nightcap in the hotel bar. The barman said the beers were cheap as long as the football was on. He was Croatian and didn't understand why, but this is what his crazy American bosses told him so he put the football on the TV, no one watched it, and we drank the cheap beer. But, of course, there were a few other people sitting at the bar as well. A mad financial trader, who was somehow still doing it at nearly 60, who said he made three million bucks out of Trump being elected president. And his son, who was such a hardline Trump supporter that he horrified even his father. And on the other side a research scientist, who was anti Trump, but who wasn't judgmental either. It was all very good natured. And, of course, then everyone started doing shots of tequila, so it was only polite to join in. I'm not sure at what point the madness kicked in, but soon we were all roaring at each other, no one listening to anyone else, all on our holidays and all having a ball with these people we had never met before and would never meet again. We all told each other our stories and we ordered more shots and it turned into one of those memorable nights that you can't exactly remember everything about. Apart from the fact that no harm was done and we all somehow made it to bed. We met the father and son two days later when we were all leaving. The father was slightly sheepish, saying that his wife had been horrified because she was worried he was being his true self. We assured him a great night was had by all and no one was judging anyone and we all agreed it was great fun at the time.

There won't be tequila again for a long time, But in a way there's a lesson there about being too rigid in life. Tequila isn't for every day but there are some magical nights, in the right place and time, when real life seems very far away, when a small bit of a tequila frenzy can be perfect.

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