DEIRDRE scolded me because I misspelled her name when I filled in the form to renew her gym membership.
“They’re not going to stop you from exercising just because your card reads ‘Deidre’!” I said.
“But you should have been more careful!” she insisted. “One letter makes a difference!”
A little later, Pedro from the cafe next door proposed that we organise a quiz night to raise funds for families in our town that have been hard hit by the economic crisis.
He appointed me quiz-master (on the dubious premise that since I run a bookshop I should be good at General Knowledge).
Deirdre enlisted Beate from Bremen and Alec from Belfast for her team, along with Mr and Mrs Powers from the Casa del Jet Set. Pedro recruited his sister-in-law Manola, and the Major (who, I was pretty sure, would hoover up points in History and Sport), as well as Pedro’s daughter Luisa and Alvaro, her current squeeze.
Other teams were brought by Jorge, our computer guy and yoga teacher (whose contingent all wore pony tails, including the lone female); the husband-and-wife poets Phyllis and Norman; and the brother-and-sister poets Norberto and Carmen.We had fourteen teams of five.
First prize consisted of bottles of whisky donated by Pedro for the winning team. For second prize Manola provided five coupons, each to be exchanged for a candle-lit-dinner-for-two at her cafe in Almunecar.
I had thought the Major might be susceptible to taking the whole thing too seriously, but he spent the evening basking in the warm glow of Manola’s affection and I’m not sure he even noticed what the final score was. Jorge is a well-read ex-dot-com-tycoon and struck me as being potentially ultra-competitive. As it turned out, the pony-tails knew absolutely nothing about sport – which cost them a prize – but they didn’t seem to mind.
The worst culprit in the over-zealous, ultra-competitive department was Deirdre, who initiated several noisy protests over the quiz-master’s ‘excessively strict’ approach to the definition of correct answers. I was obliged to back down on a number of rulings in the face of popular indignation stirred up by my better half.
In the final round, with Deirdre’s team and Norberto and Carmen’s tied, the destination of five bottles of single malt rested on who could provide me with Don Quixote’s real name.
On their answer sheet the Deirdre crew had written with a flourish, “Alfonso Quijano.” Norberto’s outfit, more commendably meticulous and less four sheets to the wind, had supplied the correct answer, “Alonso Quijano”.
“Alonso without the ‘f’!” I announced (perhaps with a tiny hint of self-satisfaction).
Deirdre’s team did win dinner at Manola’s in Almunecar though.
“When are we going?” I asked my soul-mate when the evening had come to a close.
“We?” she replied with icy disdain.
“Let’s do another quiz next month,” Pedro said.
“I’d like to,” I told him, “but I’m not sure it’s good for relationships.”
To read more by Michael O’Reilly visit www.myspanishinterlude.com