A couple of glasses of cheap Burgundy
The boy is standing right in front of the escalator. He must be about eight years old, maybe seven. His backpack is at least half his size, he’s wearing a Real Madrid shirt, and he’s been paralyzed there, consumed by the fear of having to go down those stairs. His mother, following the flow of people who crammed the airport at that hour, couldn’t wait for him—or maybe she just didn’t want to, perhaps with the aim that we adults have to teach children lessons.
The boy is there, blocking everyone’s way. Some, like the man right in front of me, is concerned and tries to calm him down. Others, further back, start whistling, making subtle guttural sounds of disapproval (it's an airport in England). But the boy doesn’t seem to want to take the step, a little step that will take him down steel staircase, down, down to where his mother is. 15, maybe 20 eternal seconds go by until the man next to me whispers something into his ear, gives him a pat on the back, takes his hand, and together they take that step at the same time.
Once he gets down, the first thing the boy does is hug his mother, sobbing. She, meanwhile, can only look, apologetically, at those coming down the stairs behind her son. The man who helped him take the step tells him, for all to hear, that he has been very brave, that his mother should be proud to have a child like him. But the boy doesn’t seem to hear him. He’s clinging to his mother.
Do we understand children? Or, better yet, how much have we forgotten about our own childhoods? Those times when there didn’t seem to be any limits, when we could jump over a wall without first checking to see what was on the other side, those times when we thought of ourselves as immortal.
Sometimes I see kids as Martians—little Martians speaking a language I don’t understand, playing games that seem to be more than games. There are people who even believe that children take advantage of the fact that we adults have forgotten our childhood, and then they do things, they say things, they move things that we used to move. And they laugh behind our backs because they know that we no longer remember what those movements mean.
La República Luminosa (Bright Republic), a tremendous book by Andrés Barba. If you haven’t read it yet, stop staring at this screen right now, and run out to buy it. I really don’t know what this has to do with wine. What I do know is that after seeing that little Martian hugging his mother, burying his head in her dress, the first thing that came to my mind was that novel and then something to drink. Of whatever. And those two glasses of cheap Burgundy that tasted like candied cherries and oak ... well. That's what I found.