It was Lily’s birthday on Wednesday night, and a celebration was afoot, Cuban style. Sandra had been planning the party for her sister for some time. She ordered steak and lobster from the Black Market and invited several of her friends over to partake.
My job was to get the bbq lit. No small task. I was told stories from years past, when igniting her coal fired bbq proved to be the most difficult part of the evening. These tales of singed hair and machismo sucking defeats did not deter me. I’m a former boy scout. Give me wood, a knife, a match and I’ll light any fire.
The problems began to mount immediately. Sandra’s bbq is actually not a bbq at all, but rather a basin from an old Russian washing machine. I hacked away at three chunks of framing wood with an old rusty (and dull) hatchet, but couldn’t get the pieces as thin as I would have liked. With fingers crossed, I laid the wood across a bed of coals in a log cabin type arrangement. Everyone was looking at me… and had their doubts. I was feeling the pressure.
When the fire didn’t light, Kinane, Lily’s Lebanese boyfriend, came by with some paper. We rolled up the pages and stuck them in. Still no luck. Soon, Sandra came by with a couple cap fulls of alcohol and poof (literally), we had a fire burning on top the coals. The wood caught fire first and eventually the coals followed suit. My job was done, and my pride, though bruised, was still intact.
Most of the people at the party were, like Sandra, Cuban film creatures. The rest were either long time friends of hers, or intellectuals. I fell into so many conversations ranging from art to politics to politics to politics, my mind was spinning with ideas. I was like a kid in a candy store, except the candy was free, and the store was a warehouse.
Conversations aside, the food and drink were also great. We prepared skewers of meat and vegetables, taking care to keep the lobster and steak separate because they cook at different rates. The rum was Seven Year Havana Club. The beer was Bucanero. The music was Latin. Soon, the dining room became a dance floor as Sandra and her friends took over the room, dancing and filling the place up with atmosphere. People came and went and came again.
I swapped emails with a number of folks and look forward to keeping the channel open on more thoughts and ideas as my mind simmers forward. I’ll use alcohol to keep the fire burning.