‘I know now why you cry, but it is something I can never do.’ Terminator – Terminator 2.
Up at 6am. Although I’m on holiday I’m a creature of habit and rarely do lie-ins. I try the gym but it’s shut so I run around the hard court. The whole complex looks brand new, adorned with palm trees and fountain springs. As if the architectural model had magically grown like a self-seeded sunflower. But ultimately, it lacks personality. Each block of condominiums looking identical as the last. At least that’s my excuse for what happened next.
My key doesn’t work in my apartment, I ring the door to wake the girls.
A slovenly dude answers, poking his head untrustingly through a crack in the door.
I’m in the wrong building. All those laps of the hard court had me disoriented that I ventured into the WRONG building. I turn and apologise over my shoulder, not waiting for a response. When I get back to the right building I place a wood chipping on the architrave above the lift, it will be a handy point of reference all week.
The botanical gardens were shut so we took a headless walk through Olympic boulevard. Amidst all the cheering, the street noise, a man slept peacefully in a doorwell. For lunch Girl 1, Annie and I got unintentionally pissed in Adega Perola just off the Copacabana strip. We hadn’t realised this until it came time to venture back out to the strip. Girl 1 was like an unstoppable force. The locals pin-balled off her. She had incredible walking posture, straight back, head up. Every step had purpose and a measure of intent. I hummed Bittersweet Symphony to myself as if I were following a puffed up Richard Ashcroft.
Later we team up with Aglae, a friend of a friend. She speaks every possible language and has tickets for the swimming. I always liked to be briefed on people before meeting them, how to pronounce their name, what they do, where they’re from. Just so if the conversation goes flat I can chime in with ‘so Annie tells me your into such and such, that you work with this and that.‘
‘Aglae works in McDonalds, friend of Antoinettes, she is Austrian and speaks a dozen languages.’ Annie tells me.
‘You know someone that works in McDonalds?’
‘Yes she is head of marketing for Europe.’
‘There you go.’ And the world goes back to spinning.
Annie is no elitist, but lets just say she moves in certain circles.
Over dinner it’s been awhile since I spoke so I pipe up. ‘So Aglae, I guess Schwarzenegger is the most famous Austrian?’
‘I would have gone for Mozart.’ She says.
‘I would have said Freud,’ says Girl 1. I feel suitably thick as shit.
In the evening we watch the swimming, determined not to lose anything I run a loop in my head. Bus ticket, phone, card, key, …bus ticket, phone, card, key. Patting each pocket as I do. 10 minutes later I’ve lost the bus ticket. Madder than hell I shut down, entirely. Another forty quid down the shitter.
I tell Anastasia,
‘Please don’t be angry.’ I beg.
‘Im not angry I’m disappointed’
‘Oh god, that’s worse, be angry! Please be angry.’
We watch the swimming, in silence for the first hour. The cherubic Adam Peaty gets the first gold for GB and Phelps adds to his tally. His mate breaks down on the podium which I like. You can’t help but laugh at grown men losing it on podiums. Of course nothing beats Garry Herbert losing it in Barcelona 1992, remember that?
Check out the restaurant Adega Perola a ten minute walk off the Copacabana strip. There’s no second guessing the menu as all the dishes are seen from behind the counter, and there’s an inexhaustible selection. Order some kipi-vodkas, many many kipi-vodkas.