During all these years, I’ve been taken to Lanzarote, Ibiza, Amsterdam, to the top of the communications tower at Collserola, the most posh hotels in Barcelona and Madrid and even a swingers club, for instance. And I’ve eaten food from El Bulli several times. I’ve had to dress as It, Stephen King’s killer clown, the drummer in Guns N’ Roses, Queen Sofía (although some bastard says I looked more like E. T. when he’s dressed as a woman), a Cuban gangster and one of the Beastie Boys. But on top of everything, I’ve seen a multi-awarded copy writer hitting an actor at the passage of terror for having scared him, an assistant holding the rail of a boat to vomit while the president of the company tells him (too late): “Always windward, never leeward”, I’ve taken pictures with Las Supremas de Móstoles and seen a general manager at a five star hotel’s reception pay for a minibar, and I mean the appliance, after someone pulled its door. I mention these examples only because they’re suitable for children.
And this year I’ve attended my first English office party.
Oscar Wilde said that what makes us different is purely accidental: the way we dress, our mannerisms, the tone of our voice, our opinions on religion and so on; that the more you analyse people, the sooner you find reasons to stop doing it; and that sooner or later you reach the terrible universal conclusion called human nature. I couldn’t agree more, and I’d only like to add that us Spaniards tend to get to the human nature bit later than earlier, and that the English do quite the opposite. Let me explain myself.
During the previous week, the Brazilian gang at the office had been promising me a real bacchanal. Men, women, and the complete IT department drunk since the party’s minute one, they said. Every time I came across them at the corridor they insisted: “You can’t miss this, it’s extraordinary”.
The party took place on the magnificent terrace of the agency’s building, during the hottest day London remembers since the big fire of 1666. Thirty-four degrees crowned by an error on the electric system of the building that left us with no air conditioning. From the morning, anywhere you looked you only saw semi-naked and thirsty people. Well, that looked promising. More so after I found out, late as usual, that the theme of the party was the sea. There were some people dressed as sailors, mermaids and things related to the marine world, a galleon-shaped bar, an inflatable swimming pool, some people dressed as Jack Sparrow, chill-out music and a strange blue drink. Everything top-notch. But very quiet… Where was the party they’d been talking about?
I had my first and second beers with a group of English colleagues. And we still hadn’t heard about the pandemonium when my bladder couldn’t take it any longer. In a party with more than four-hundred people is not so strange to find all toilet doors closed I guess, but, taking into account the sound that came from inside the toilets, either they’d locked up the kraken in there or people were already puking. And we were only on the first hour.
As soon as I got out of there I saw Iván, a nice guy from Bilbao who works as a waiter in the agency, and I stayed with him and the Colombians of the maintenance department (to improve my English). When I told them how I’d found the toilets, they said: “That’s nothing, look at them. At the Christmas party we recovered more than fifteen G-strings all over the building”.
And they were right, too: the forest didn’t let me see the trees. The group was still the same, moving along to the chill-out music like a big flock of birds, but now I could spot on the guys the look of the whale boat sailor setting foot on the ground after years on the sea of not having seen a woman, and on the girls the excitement of a group of teenage girls entering a disco for the first time. And in all of them I could sense Mr. Hyde’s thirst. It was 7:30 PM and things could only get worse. Or better, of course, depending on how you looked at it.
At 8:00 PM someone crashed on the toy swimming pool and water fell all over the floor, turning everything muddy. At 8:30 PM, we run out of cider. At 9:00 PM it was already easy to see the ones who wouldn’t make it home that week. At 9:30 PM, a soaked guy insisted upon inviting me to try a thing called Jaggerbomb. At 10:00 I decided to leave. At 10:30 PM the music stopped and some of us managed to escape through the back door of the building (I know, I know, but I had guests waiting at home and I just couldn’t not show up).
In any case, I’d already collected all the necessary data and, apart from the official version talking about 1,764 beers, 180 bottles of wine and 31 of vodka, I can also tell you that this time the number of G-strings amounted to less than ten, an information leaked by my source with a look of “I know, I thought there would be more”, but in exchange someone had broken one of the toilets. The kraken, probably.
All this having been said, I could now finish the story by citing Rutger Hauer’s legendary sentence from Blade Runner, the one that goes “I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe” and all that, but I think that Carmen Maura’s one in Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón will suit it much better: “Hagas lo que hagas, ponte bragas” (“No matter what you do, wear knickers”).