10/01/2010 by etiennefish
Imagine the scene:
Time: Friday last, around midnight
Place: Peniche, the Brazilian working class bar in Geneva’s redlight district.
Scene: The bar, which dominates the small space, is lit by harsh florescents, and filled with a gauche nautical theme, probably left over from previous owners. Brazilian music videos fill one TV while the other is taken over by a Portuguese football match. A mixture of MPB and samba wafts out of the speakers. It is snowing outside and many people are nursing espressos instead of beer. Only the regulars have made it out tonight. The average age is maybe 50.
At rise: Josh and Rowan sips their respective drinks, engaging in easy conversation. Others huddle over their drinks in groups of 2 or 3.
I didn’t really want to go out Friday night. Thursday night, I couldn’t wait to have a drink and relax. By Friday, I just wanted to go to bed, but I’d already agreed to dinner and a drink with a friend. We got Thai food. It was good, but my stomach wasn’t in top form and I couldn’t finish it. Predictably, we decided to go to ‘the brazilian bar’ (as we call it) for a drink. I was sort of talked into it. I really couldn’t wait for bed and wasn’t feeling wonderful. The thought of beer was not making things better. It was also snowing and cold. Nobody else was out on the streets. But, I caved to peer pressure, and we trooped dutifully over to the bar. When we arrived, the place was almost empty. We were there fairly early, but aside from that we assumed the weather was taking it’s toll on the evening’s intended patronage.
Things started off fairly normal. Josh got a beer, I decided I’d get a vodka coke, thinking that it might go down smoother. We talked about inconsequential things, still catching each other up on our adventures over the holidays. What seemed like a totally innocent and quiet friday night suddenly took a change for the bizarre as Adriana entered out lives with what can only be described as a bang.
Adriana, was, well a Swss-Italian woman of 70+ years, with short grey hair, and a long fur coat. She was wasted. As in completely and utterly out of her mind drunk. It was sort of amazing. She sang the entire bar many somewhat incomprehensible, off key, and gargling renditions of ‘Non, Je ne Regrette Rien.’ She was also quite enamoured with the youngish son of the owner of the bar, a quite funny Portuguese/Swiss guy. She would follow him around everywhere, once undoing his belt so that his jeans fell down, and another time following him into the toilet. Everyone at the bar knew Adriana and were enjoying her antics, except for her Brazilian caretaker. She was a dour woman in her forties or fifties, who kept given the older woman ultimatums to no avail. She finally left in frustration. What I found funny, was that despite the woman’s obviously intoxicated state, and despite the fact that after each drink she would subsequently refuse to pay her bar tab, the barmaid, Celia, would continue to serve her more drinks. Granted, she kept trying to get Adriana to accept an espresso or a water instead of wine or whatever else she was demanding, but in the end she’d always acquiesce.
The tragic comedy that was this night out hit it’s zenith when first Adriana demonstrated her admirable flexibility by doing the splits on not one, but two occasions, threw one leg up on the bar did a bit of a sexy dance for us, and then, about five minutes later, lifted up her shirt and flashed the entire bar. I really don’t know how (or why) it happened, I just happened to turn around at the right/wrong moment, but it certainly characterised my life in this city: Every time I become a little too complacent or ambivalent to living here, something absolutely random, bizarre, and insane occurs, and I have to re-evaluate all my judgements about this city. Geneva might be a mostly bland, grey, and characterless city to the uninitiated, but deep within, it contains the constrained soul of a madman. Clearly, my goal now is to find the key that will allow that creature to roam free.