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A Night in the Town
The unmistakable patter of rain drops fell down onto the misshapen roads that Friday night, leaving shallow pools of murky water as evidence. The sun had long since set in the lush mountains, and it was only by irrefutable logic that we knew there had, at some point, been light. The darkness that now enveloped the narrow alleys in the center of the city did not cease for the remaining hours of night.
Stray tourists paced the boulevards; if they were lucky, the street lamps had not yet been shut off. Half of the ancient bulbs had fallen victim to petty burglaries, and had it been an average foreigner of a respectable place that made their way down the crumbling sidewalks, they would have been perplexed at the strange patches of light that dotted the long road.
Of course, no average foreigner would ever dare walk the streets of Tegucigalpa.
We, of natural heritage, knew better than to roam our city at this time of night. The mainlanders were well aware of the dangers that lurked between shadow and light, and it was only because of the constant threat that these mystic corners held that we ventured deeper and deeper into the vast gloom.
The notion of walking had long since become obsolete in our small corner of the globe. We had accepted this eccentric folkway; our sole transportation was through vehicles that polluted the already muggy air of the city. The night air was rarely still; loud honks and raging music were common to our way of living. It was not a strange occurrence to hear the blasting notes that came from cheap car radios at one or two in the morning; in fact, most of us welcomed the racket, and almost expected it.
The worst part, for me, was the reggaeton era. A music genre that was defined for its upfront raunchiness and crude style, the expectations for any singer belonging to this musical group were undefined and scarce. No voice range was needed. The verses consisted of poorly formed sentences that rarely held any metric value and seldom rhymed in the ordinary sense. The choruses were usually the name of a song in question, a shaky statement that usually provoked an internal cringing in the educated person.
As for the music in itself, usually a monotonous drum beat that any amateur could achieve, and the custom synthetic sounds that a computer geek developed in their spare time. Catchy? I would compromise on the term. Upbeat and entertaining? Definitely. However, the songs were only meant to last us a couple of weeks; then, like an expired carton of milk, you could feel the underlying stench that they emanated.
I can say that I enjoyed them for a while, but as time passed, and I developed a more acute understanding of music, the sounds screeched in my ears and caused immeasurable pain to my system. It was a couple of months before I could stomach the sickly tunes again. There were countless nights during which I cursed the people of the city and their droning hums that infiltrated my quiet home when least expected.
Music notwithstanding, there really were many perks that the ordinary automobile presented. Take for example, the relief of any physical exertion from the people in the car. Although the average pedestrian may have been in slightly better physical condition, we were safe from perspiration, an agent of destruction in the eyes of a teenage girl. The matter of sweating became irrelevant, and we were able to conserve our salon hair for a couple more hours. Our perfumes stuck to our clothes longer, and our make up did not run off our eyes.
The safety issues, as discussed previously, were also a major concern. Although the average teenager’s social life begins around age fourteen, their driving life does not. This means that, in order to thrive in Tegucigalpa’s social scene, you must rely on somebody else’s driving skills to maneuver your way through the intricate web of thin roads and botchy streets. The driver in question must have certain prerequisites:
It is recommended that the driver be a male for security purposes. Sexism is a common plague of the third world country, and Honduras is nowhere near exempt. A man behind the wheel brings comfort and security to the people within the car, relieving them from many annoyances. Among these: cat calls, attempted sexual harassment and the occasional doubt of their ability.
The driver in question should not fall into peer pressure; this ensures that they do not succumb to elusive ideas like alcoholism, robbery and even possible grand theft auto. Of course, this is in the worst cases, but one can only hope.
The driver in question must be trusted by the family for the security of the teenagers that ride in the car. Kidnappings and other horrific tales are plentiful in the Latin community, and should be avoided at all costs.
The driver in question must be trusted by the teenagers as well, but for other purposes. Note: Parents are not dumb. They know what we are up to, due to the simple fact of nature that they too experienced it. It is not unheard of that teenagers are curious about alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and other paraphernalia that can be smoked, and of course, the opposite sex. If a transgression on the teenager’s part should ensue, it is the driver’s responsibility to not tell the parents, and make sure the teenager’s secret is safe.
The driver in question must have a balance on the two types of trust: if he does not tell the parents, this could mean he keeps many things from them. If he tells them too much, he is not the best choice for an outing in the city.
The driver in question must have local connections with the liquor shops in town so as to allow for easy access of alcohol.(Hey, it’s a tough town, and some of us don’t know any other way to get through the day. Or in this case, night.)
The driver in question must have an interesting name with comedic implications.
The driver in question must have a sense of humor.
The driver in question must know all of the bouncers from the local clubs by first name.
The driver in question must not be picky, for he will usually dine in fast food restaurants in ten minutes intervals during the night.
The driver in question must not be asthmatic, or suffer from any lung complication that impedes him from inhaling any type of smoke.
The driver in question must not be Columbian. It’s just a thing.
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER can the driver be related to the teenagers in the car, especially parents.
And, of course, the driver in question must not have any romantic or sexual ideas about the people he ferries around; whether these are men or women. The catastrophic results of such a thing are quite obvious.
There are, of course, other preferences that we sometimes have. A driver that is hard of hearing is not unheard of, due to outrageous loud music that teenagers tend to gravitate towards. A driver who switches music, or, God forbid, turns down the volume is not your friend. If you decide to leave the vehicle for a short lapse of time, and in due process, you leave behind a box of cigarettes or a half finished warm beer, make sure these are not missing when reentering the vehicle.
And we each have our own little quirks, but that about sums it up.
Other added advantages to the whole four wheels thing include music, air conditioning, a place to lie down, easy access to faraway areas, and even hiding spots. Most Hondurans will also concur that the task of walking seems to become increasingly difficult as the night presses on. This is probably due to the fact that as the night does progress, our alcohol levels go right along. I don’t need to explain to you that walking down a sidewalk with an alarming number of potholes in five inch stilettos is an amazing accomplishment if you are sober; if you are inebriated, or well on your way, it is mission impossible.
The car also relieves our feet from uncomfortable foot sores that usually spring up in the morning due to excessive height of heel. Male humans will puzzle themselves for the rest of eternity trying to discover the allure of high heel shoes, but females are right there with me when I say that if it is the pain from the heels or the comfort of the flats that we must decide between, we will no doubt go with the pain. Sorry. It’s a gal thing.
The whole walking thing goes undisputed, nevertheless.
The city had other idiosyncrasies that we quickly adapted to. The normal routine is picked up by 10th or 11th grade; of course, it shifts slightly with the years. During the school year, Thursday nights are for the older crowds. If you get to go out on a school night in your early years, it is indeed very probable that you will end up a miserable wretch who relies on parental support. Friday night is for birthdays and couples. No one goes out on a Friday; if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, Friday is the day to see them.
Acceptable activities include visiting your girlfriend’s house, or inversely, having your boyfriend over; catching the 9:20 movie at the only mall inside the city, going out to dinner at Rojo, Verde & Ajo or Mangostine; or hanging out with other friends to watch some television series. The latter usually means sneaking into your friend’s parent’s room and making out until caught, or it is time to go home.
The party thing is touchy; no one really goes to the clubs on Fridays; it is just customary. Birthdays that fall on a Friday are passable, if there is a party that day you could go to dinner at Chili’s, TGIF’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, etc. and then swing by to get wasted on the birthday kid’s alcohol. Omitting the nasty hangover Saturday morning, there really is nothing wrong with it.
And then comes the big one: Saturday night.
During the day, family lunches or possible dates occupy the lunch hour. The more intense chicks wake up bright and early to hit the gym. The lulling afternoon finds them at their separate hair stylists, where they dry their hair, straighten it, curl it, flatten it, whatever rocks their boat. Then come the frenzied hours of twilight in which friends urgently call each other to set up plans. This includes the chauffer responsibilities, the sleeping arrangements, and the prepping arrangements.
Before going out, the girls usually meet at one house with a distinctly large bathroom in which they can all re-do their hair, paint their eyes with heavy black eyeliner, pat their cheeks with bright powders, and smear their lips with the newest Beauty Rush. Wash your teeth, shave your legs, and of course, deodorant.
The last challenge is the clothes.
It was, and still remains, a sin to wear the same thing twice. Forget the fact that everyone would ogle at you wherever you went; the Mobile Uploads would haunt you for the rest of your life. I can still hear the gossip now.
Shoes and accessories are critical. Too much and you look like an ornamented Christmas tree; too little, and you look like a cheap has-been. BeBe, Steve Madden, Guess and Nine West are acceptable for shoes. Of course, these stores cannot be found in Tegucigalpa; you have to go to the odd boutiques everyone knows about, and pray some other gal has not bought the same pair in a smaller size. The earrings have to be from Casa de Oro; preferably with Mayan design. The bigger, the better.
The brands are always designer. Always.
There was an unspoken code that we were all fluent in. You could automatically categorize somebody by their apparel.
Guys with dark denim Rock & Republics usually wore Ed Hardy designs and colorful Asics. If it wasn’t a t-shirt, then Armani button downs were expected. Designer Converse shoes were also widely accepted. For formal events, the customary Ferragamos were expected.
If it wasn’t the Rock & Republic, it was baggy True Religions with enormous horse shoes branded on their a**.
Diss the jeans and you would find the bohemian dudes with their squared shorts from Abercrombie or Aeropostale. The trucker hat and the AE tee was also part of this look.
The more radical ones wore bandanas, loose jeans, vans, and the curious Affliction shirts. Although equal in price with the Ed Hardy’s, the Affliction tees were darker and more out of place.
The girls got more complicated.
Dresses could be tight, loose, long or short. The ones that wore the tight, one-colored tunics with the thick leather belts strapped to their abdomens sometimes matched black tights and strappy heels with the look. There was also the baggy options that hid that extra holiday weight and still made you look like a star. Long, puffy items that bared the shoulders were intricately designed with multifaceted colors and patterns, and didn’t need much; just a pair of simple stilettos.
Strapless dresses that hugged the curves and delighted the onlooker with much more than bargained for were common in the skinny crowd, and dreaded amongst the upper-chesty.
The more dare-devilish females of the crowd sometimes wore short, simple garbs that were usually in standard blacks and whites. These were seldom longer than mid-thigh, and screamed S***! to all that witnessed.
Shorts were difficult. Not too short, and not too long. The short shorts and long shirt thing was also a s*** marker, watch out for those. Tucked in shirt was OK, as long as you wore tights and black silk shorts. Forget white shorts. Jean shorts were more hippy-like, but acceptable if combined correctly.
White and black jeans did not need any insignia; practical Express or MNG was acceptable. The real denim, however, was tricky. Forever 21, Arden B, Charlotte Rousse, and BeBe shirts needed to be paired with tight Seven’s, or Citizen’s. The occasional Rock & Republic was admired and envied. Skinny True Religions were always sexy, but other than that; don’t even bother with denim if you won’t wear it right.
Dressed up? Ready to go?
Who said that a night in the town wasn’t entertaining?