A Houston New Years, Mocambo & Gary Taylor'sMonday, January 01, 2007
Few know that Houston is an ocean port. Ship channels from the Gulf of Mexico snake all their way to this Texan city. On December 31, 1966, on the stroke of midnight, I was having multiple toasts to my health and the health of all the officers sitting at the captain's table on board Río Aguapey, a ship of ELMA, Empresa Líneas Maritimas Argentinas (the then very active but now defunct Argentine Merchant Marine). We had our white wine with the salad, rosé with the white pasta, red with the entrecote, dry sherry with the soup (Argentines then served soup before the dessert)and moscato (a sweet red) with our flan. Brandy was served with the sopa inglesa (an Argentine version of trifle that has loads of brandy). When the cake came Argentine sparkling wines were opened. With our coffee we had Old Smuggler Scotch. I was returning from my two year stint in the Argentine Navy and the Aguapey was going to deposit me, hitting all the ports on the Gulf of Mexico, a few blocks from my home in Veracruz, Mexico. But my mother had decided to drive to Houston in her blue VW and surprise me. She had been wiring our ship that was anchored off the Houston Port and was getting no replies. How was she to know that the wireless officer was also sitting at our table and that we were all drunk?
I can count with one hand the times I have been drunk in my life. That New Year's in Houston was the first and probably the worst.
By 1989, Rosemary and I stopped having the desire to party at some hotel with a few people we knew and then hug all the people we didn't know at the stroke of midnight. Both of us miss the real New Years of our past together and in particular a couple we had in Veracruz, Mexico. In one of them we weren't married but I had oiled the hinges of my room well in my mother's house on Calle Navegantes. In both occasions the sirens of all the ships so near us in the port of Veracruz and all the others anchored on the gulf made those warm New Years difficult to top. If the nortes weren't blowing it was usually hot enough for us to drive to our favourite beach by the Mocambo Hotel. It was there were we had this picture taken in late December 1967.
One of the strangest New Years we ever had was around 1987 at Gary Taylor's Rock Room on Hornby Street. In the picture here you can see Gary Taylor with the not-yet-known body builder, Carla Temple, on the right. Rosemary and I were invited by Gary Taylor to a New Years celebration at his rock room. He liked to invite me because he knew I was a cheap guest who never drank any of his liquor or accepted any of the other high grade rewards he offered his best clientele. The entertainer that evening was Roy Forbes (then known simply as Bim). I was astonished that at midnight he took out a paper from his shirt pocket which had the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne which he obviously did not know. After finishing he sprayed Rosemary and I (we were, unluckily, in the front) with an entire bottle of Möet & Chandon. But the strangest part of the evening were three very young Polish sailors who kept smiling at me. I told Rosemary that I felt uncomfortable and that we should go home. As we were leaving the sailors caught us on our way out and told us in a a terrible broken English that I was the spitting image of Roman Polanski. They asked for my address. For years we received Christmas cards from them.