My phone started ringing when I was a flight of stairs away from my flat’s door. I ran up the last twelve steps, grabbed the key, and unlocked the door. I was out of breath when I pressed the cool red plastic phone receiver to my ear.
Only one person brayed my name that way and had done so since kindergarten.
A call from a friend in the States was a rare treat in the 1990s.
I knew there had to be a reason.
“What’s up, Steve? Are you coming to Spain?”
“Nope, but my parents are there – do you think you could do me a favor…”
And this was the beauty of living outside one’s own country: friends and family from where I grew up sent friends and family to me to get to know and to show around my beloved Madrid.
Both of Steve’s parents would have birthdays so would I mind taking them out – would I mind getting them something chocolate?
Getting to know my friend’s parents better and an excuse to eat chocolate?
“No problem! Where are they staying?”
I got their details and assured Steve it would be fun.
“They bicker,” he warned.
“They’re parents.” I countered, “Mine bicker, too!”
I met up with Mr. and Mrs. C. at San Jines Chocolate shop one of the oldest in Madrid. We sat on shiny wooden seats and dunked crispy fried churros in thick and clingy hot chocolate.
“We love chocolate,” they both agreed, “but we could use some coffee after this!”
“I love coffee!”
Not a bicker in sight, and Mr. and Mrs. C. became Mort and Esther.