D JUAN RIBO was renting my brother’s large old house just up the road from me.
He not only was a diplomat but also seemed to know anyone that walked on earth and had something worthwhile to say.
He knew everything about everything and everybody too. So, when he asked me if I would like to ride along to Madrid with him I jumped at the chance.
What better way to prove he didn’t know the whole world.
During the long drive we had light conversation. It was there I hoped to spring the trap.
Did he know the minister of agriculture, the one in the papers recently. “Of course” he replied; which I naturally expected.
Then he disappointed me by blurting, “we drive right by his office to get to my house, I’ll stop and you can meet him and ask him what you want.”
I guess I was going to find out early just how much Don Juan really knew.
Within an hour we were there and went directly into the ministry stopping only for the secretary to be informed of our presence.
Naturally, she enquired about our appointment which Don Juan shrugged off nonchalantly saying, “just tell him Juan Ribo is here to see him.”
Within seconds the man I had seen on TV all week long burst forth from his office bear hugging D Juan.
My eyes fell from my head and I became speechless. I felt ill.
This most gracious man did know everyone, seemingly. And I, an utter commoner wanted him to fail.
We arrived at his house, he had a cook and maid. I was directed to a bedroom, told to deposit my things as we were off for beers and tapas.
“Rickey,” D Juan pronounced, “I have a diplomatic dinner tonight so cannot be a gracious host, but I have asked my son Juan to take you to the theatre. Do you know him?”
I had met his son back in Mojacar, he was a movie actor, in fact, the heart throb of Mexico.
Boy did I feel sorry for him, getting loaded with a country bumpkin from Iowa.
The evening went according to plan until young Juan suggested we go to the favourite actors bar and participate in saving the world, rewriting the play and critiquing each actor’s role. It was near midnight and I had nothing else to do.
Juan introduced me to the various actors that had performed and we formed a circle to chat. No one tried to be ‘on stage’ or grand.
The egalitarian trust amongst those usually yearning for the spotlight was impressive. Drinks followed and the conversation was never dull.
Then it happened, at well after 1am the main bar door swung open and there stood none other than the great poet Rafael Alberti.
A hush fell over the room and the circle parted like the Red Sea did for Moses.
He casually stepped in as if we had all been waiting for him.
A large jar of Sangria appeared from the bar with ample glasses and a night to remember was to start.