Portugal

Drunk Times with the Communist General

I was studying for a semester in the beautiful city of Porto in Portugal, and after a couple weeks of partying and getting to know the place, my friends and I received emails notifying us of a “Welcome Party” for all study abroad students. We were hesitant, until we read the words ‘Free Wine Reception’, and became very excited. It was advertised as an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends, on the 19th of September. We met new people. We did not make new friends. I did however, with the help of my friends, make a story:

On the morning of the 20th of September, I woke up with a severe headache and a lot of questions. When the pieces of the puzzle were finally reassembled a few hours later, this is what I was left with:

PART ONE: What I Thought Had Happened

My housemate Jake and I had a couple beers each and headed to the city centre at around 8pm. It is important to note that nights out in Porto usually don’t commence until around midnight. So we go to a bar first, have a couple beers, then head up to the Reitoria where the welcome evening is taking place.

We’re teeming with excitement at the prospect of free wine. We catch a glimpse of it and lose all self-control. “Fuck this, I love free alcohol,” I distinctly remember saying, before running towards it like a child at the gates of Disneyland.

So there are like 40 glasses of wine lined up for any student to take, (terrible idea when there’s an Irishman about, even worse when there are two) and two old guys in tuxes refilling them as they are emptied. So Jake and I start at either end of this long table and start knocking them back and meet in the middle.

All is well and good, I’m feeling pretty drunk. The guys in tuxes are not happy.

After this, my memory begins to get hazy. We met some Brazilian girls we knew from class and they bought us some aguardente, or ‘burning water’ as it translates to. It tasted like fire. Tasty, tasty fire.

Next thing I know we were in the city centre in this big square and there’s some sort of flashmob-synchronised dance going on, with loads of spectators watching and cheering. Naturally Jake and I join in. We proceed to make friends with the boss guy of the “flashmob”. We skip merrily to a club and that, unfortunately, is all I remember.

PART TWO: In Which Mike is Informed By Friends What Exactly Had Occurred on the Previous Night

So we had drunk all the wine that had been left for the students, then left with a few friends. It was at this point that we happened upon an event in the town square.

Anyway this event, as it transpired, wasn’t a flashmob.

It was a march.

In my defence, it was synchronised. But the crowd who had gathered hadn’t been cheering, as I had recalled.  They had been booing. And they had been booing because the march was being held by the youth section of a small but well known group of Communists.

Apparently the people did not like them.

Jake and I had joined in to the dismay of our friends, who left at this point, for fear they would be associated with us. So we were on our own. He was extremely drunk too – ossified- but he remembered the rest of the night in a series of flashbacks.

The boss guy we made ‘friends’ with wasn’t a flashmob organiser. He was the leader of this particular party who called himself “The General”, which explained why my vague recollection of him involved him shouting things through a megaphone.

So, we’re chatting to him as if we’ve known him all our lives, and as the march finishes and the party members disperse it’s just me, Jake and The General…so we decide to bring him clubbing with us.

We get to a small rock music club at around 10.30, which is about 4 hours too early for clubbing. As I entered, I kissed every barmaid on the cheeks and then our terrible trio headed to the dance floor, too drunk to realise we were the only three people in the whole place.

When there are only three of you in a club and the bouncers haven’t even arrived yet, you would think it would be quite difficult to get kicked out.

We were dancing our hearts out: just the three of us on this big ass dance floor. It was hot, so I took off my t-shirt.

And so did Jake.

And The General; but then the general decided to take of his pants too.

The three of us get thrown out by a barman, and next thing we’re in the middle of the road. The General has his clothes in his hands, looking like a lost, confused puppy, and just fucking leaves. He goes home and leaves Jake and I shirtless with no communist buddies.

We find another bar where we somehow drink like a couple of tequilas between us.

And this is where Jake lost his memory.

However, fast forward to an hour later: our housemate Nick hears a knock on the door, opens it and Jake walks passed him, falls into bed, and without speaking, passes out. He ignores, or is oblivious to Nick’s questions like: “Where’s Mike?” and “How did you get home?”, both of which would be answered about three seconds later when a kindly old couple in their 70’s, with all their might carried me in the door.

Nick was acceptably confused.

In broken English the old Portuguese couple told Nick about how they had seen Jake and I waving down, and subsequently being rejected by, around 10 taxis. So they had decided to bring us home. Jake had somehow been able to say our address.

After thanking them profusely, Nick offered to “take it from here”. They weren’t having any of it, and the kind-hearted OAP’s brought me into my room, took of my shoes and tucked me in for a sound night’s sleep.

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