Issue #143 – “The Last Bachelor Party” – January 12th, 2009

-When I was a teenager growing up in the suburbs, if we couldn’t find a house to drink in we’d simply kick back beers in the park until the cops inevitably came and chased us through the woods.  We were young and stupid and it was fucking awesome.  More than a decade later, that exhilarating sensation borne of adrenaline infused with alcohol comes much more infrequently.  Which is why since college I have endeavored to take a foreign adventure with the boys at least once every eighteen months or so.  Much to my dismay, however, this year’s trip was difficult to organize, because married guys are not allowed and the ranks of the unmarried have dwindled precipitously.  Thus when me and three friends – two from high school (Matt and Triplet #2), and one from college (Danny) – embarked for Argentina and Uruguay three weeks ago, there was an unspoken air of finality about the proceedings.  This would be the last bachelor party.

-Upon arriving in Buenos Aires, I quickly discovered that, when absolutely hammered, I am fluent in Spanish.  Though I haven’t studied or spoken it since high school, when I get a few drinks in me I become like one of those head trauma victims who mysteriously speak French flawlessly.  At one point, Matt and I were spitting Spanish so well that a few locals asked us to produce our driver’s licenses to prove we were American.  Unfortunately, I look so fat and he looks so young that they just didn’t believe they were our IDs.

-Twentysomething Argentines eat dinner at 11pm, hit the clubs at 2am, and stay out until 8am.  It’s like living in a bizarro world.  After five straight nights of that I had no idea what day of the week it was or if my next meal should be breakfast or dinner.  I once tried to go to a bank but the sign said they don’t open – open!! – until 4pm.  I just don’t understand how they live like that year-round.  I’m sorry, but it’s not healthy for Happy Hour to be at midnight.

-Argentina is super cheap.  We went out every night and made it rain but never even came close to dropping $100 US in a restaurant or bar.  They’re also not big tippers.  If Argentines tip at all it’s max 10%.  It’s funny how the American brain is so hardwired.  We physically could not bring ourselves to tip less than we usually do.  As a result every cab driver and waitress from Palermo Viejo to Plaza Serrano loved us.  Forget Obama – me and my boys single-handedly brought international goodwill back to America.

-Argentines love PDA.  And I don’t mean BlackBerrys or iPhones – which we saw none of except our own – I mean public displays of affection.  But they don’t just make out, they fucking maul each other – in clubs, on the beach, at bus stops.  It’s probably a function of the fact that most Argentines don’t move away from home until they get married, so they literally can’t “get a room.”  But that still doesn’t make it OK to fondle your boyfriend right in front of me.

-Buenos Aires is really an amazing city.  The people are friendly, the food is amazing, and I’m sure there’s lots of cultural shit that I was too hungover to see.  We came for the nightlife of course, though that usually meant going to a crazy dance club the likes of which I would never set foot in back home.  I couldn’t help but feel out of place – partly because I was sipping champagne at an absurdly cheap, exclusive VIP table, and partly because I can’t understand Spanish when it’s drowned out by techno.  Then I’d look at my watch to see that it was “only” 6am.  I felt old; but the night was young.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-From Buenos Aires we flew to Punta del Este, a resort town on the southern tip of Uruguay, where we met up with two of Matt’s frat buddies to bring our crew to a total of six.  Since Punta is a mostly undiscovered travel destination that’s a few years from blowing up and being swarmed with Americans, we thought our presence would be welcomed with open arms.  Not so.  For one, the Uruguayan dialect of Spanish is pronounced much differently and thus, even after dozens of beers, no one could comprehend what the fuck we were saying.  Plus, Argentines and Uruguayans who can afford to vacation in Punta are inherently more sophisticated, and therefore not impressed that we were from “Nueva York.”  In other words, our novelty quickly wore off.

-Our inability to communicate or ingratiate ourselves notwithstanding, Punta does have two things going for it: Bikini Beach and Jose Ignacio – two beaches filled with the most ridiculous, absurd, jaw-dropping, gravity-defying, gorgeous women any of us had ever seen in our lives.  And they all wear microscopic string bikinis.  But while I enjoy ogling as much as anyone, I was much more fascinated with the men these women were with.  Who are they?  Are they rich?  Do they have huge junk?  And most importantly, how the fuck do you pull an 11 while wearing a Speedo?

-Hitchhiking is both legal and encouraged in Punta; it’s how a lot of people get to and from the beach.  But while two chicks in bikinis can hitch a ride easily, let’s just say six pasty dudes from Long Island had a bit more trouble.  At one point I actually had to remind Matt that the international sign for “I need a ride” is an extended thumbs up, not thumb down – as if he was signaling a fallen gladiator to be condemned to death.  The six of us eventually scored a hitch for the bumpy, thirty-minute jaunt in the flatbed of a cramped pick-up truck.  No wonder hitchhikers always get murdered in the movies – all our complaining about how painful the ride was must have been really annoying.

-And, finally, I learned a lot in Uruguay.  I learned to never ask a girl in a bar how old she is because the answer is almost certainly very illegally younger than you thought.  I learned that if you eat lunch at an upscale, beachside cafe where all the waiters are decked out in white Lacoste polos, wearing a white Lacoste polo yourself can be confusing for everyone.  And I learned that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  On New Year’s Eve, we were told about a huge house party on the outskirts of Punta.  But when we arrived, all we saw was a huge line at the edge of a forest, a metal barrier, many bouncers, and no house – or party for that matter.  All we knew was that people were desperate to get in and so were we.  After attempting to bribe one of the bouncers with an American 100-dollar bill surprisingly failed to gain us entry, Danny and Triplet #2 noticed that some of the locals were sneaking under the barrier.  Danny went first and slipped in undetected.  I followed, but two tremendous bouncers spotted me.  I immediately took off toward the forest at top speed and, next thing I knew, I was seventeen again – running through the woods with the Man in hot pursuit.  Fueled by alcohol and adrenaline, I tore past trees and through brush, lost the bouncers, and emerged out of the woods.  There I gazed upon a giant bandstand that had been erected in the clearing, and thousands of people rocking out to a huge concert – complete with makeshift bars.  I had stumbled upon what looked like the Uruguayan Woodstock.  I eventually found my high school friends and we rang in 2009 partying like it was 1996.  It was a blast and, more importantly, it felt right.  That afternoon we flew home, knowing we’d saved the best for last.  Fuck me.