Fado, by the way, is a type of song, usually spontaneous and depicting the story of a sad loss, one so huge and damaging that it may never be overcome. It was usually sung in areas where sailors and prostitutes hung out. Contemplate that for a while. I still am. We didn’t speak a word of Portuguese, which given the context of the songs might have been a good thing for us. I cry in movie theatres, sad shows, stories of woe, etc. Certain subjects touch each of us differently. When I am hit in my particular spot, I can’t hold back the tears. So we did miss out on some of those feelings. However, it was the experience, as best as we could enjoy it given our handicaps, that we were after.
The vibe of the joint was contagious. That energy was something we could feel past all language barriers. The French couple beside us, along with the Netherlands group of six across from us, made this place a complete mixed bag. Even though we had no Portuguese in our tool box, most everyone else had some sort of English in theirs, even the waiter. The food was, well, let’s just say we weren’t there for the food. Watch out for the seemingly free stuff they provide to the table without your asking. Thinking it was free, the wonderful French couple beside us asked to have ours when we passed on the offering.
My apprehensions of this place must have been obvious, as Laura said, “Slug that cocktail back now. It will loosen you up and help you get into this experience.” She always did have a way with choosing her words. But somehow she was right. Even though looking at her you would never guess she could produce such lexis. Refined and sophisticated is what you will see, and she is most times. But for this particular moment, in this particular setting, she herself was so absorbed into the experience that her words were that of a drunken sailor. So “Slug it”, I did.
After the feeding, our waiter was the “opening act”. Breaking into a Fado song, which in Fado, the male singer is usually the ruffian, our waiter fit the role. The band trio played over my left shoulder. I mean that literally. Remember, the place was tiny. The waiter sang over my right shoulder. I kid you not. Yes, I faced the audience. Laura, sitting across from me, described the action. I could not turn around. Remember, the place was tiny.
As our waiter began his song, I noticed from my vantage point that all of the plates of the other patrons had been cleared, except ours. Their places were free of debris, something that Laura and I are notorious for creating, debris fields. Nonetheless, the show goes on. But, our rubble was still in place. So I whispered across the small table to Laura, or at least I thought I whispered, “Hey”. Then, pointing with my eyes, I continued, “Everyone else’s places are cleared except ours”. What happened next shocked me. The music stopped mid song. I then heard the waiter, who was now the singer, whisper into my right ear, “Oh, you’re right, my apologies”. His hands reached over and around me, clearing our place and debris field in seconds. Like a deer in headlights, I sat. No problem, no one else seemed fazed. Maybe it was because of all the wine that we noticed flowing to all the other tables. Maybe they too, were told to “Slug it”. Anyway, it was just a minor glitch. The music picked up right where it had left off. He sang two more songs and was amazing. Well, I am not a music connoisseur, and that was the first I had ever heard the word Fado, so… I’m just saying.
The show continued and our waiter was really the opening act. Enter the “Fat Lady” to sing. Through the front door she came. I am still not certain how it happened. “Where will she stand?” I shared with Laura. Wonder no longer. The stage is the stage. Let’s just say that her left hip made a nice headrest for me. I am thankful for the tight space, as it kept her steady. She sang wonderfully. Again, that is in my opinion, a self-proclaimed “what’s Fado anyway” expert.
Laura continued her role as acting commentator for the goings-on behind me. There was no way I could turn around, err, turn at all, without incurring certain injury. Our joke is that Laura is very good at being the color commentator. She also does a fine job at the play-by-play action. Her Irish whisper, much the same as mine, seemed to be picked up by most of the others in the room. Let’s just say Laura was “shushed” five times, once by the other patrons, and four more “shushings” by the singer herself. I was surprised that they too came mid-song.
The two of us jokingly recalled the old adage that it is not over ’till the Fat Lady sings. But this place blew that fable away. Enter to the rear stage left, the cook. Yes, prior to the final “shushing”, Laura had told me that she thinks the cook is up next. From Laura’s viewpoint, a full on view of the kitchen, she noticed a wardrobe change for the cook. Out of the chef’s uniform, and into the singer’s garb, here comes the singing chef.
Continue with the story to part 3…
For more detailed information visit the official website or Portugal Tourism at www.visitportugal.com but read the rest of the article first you’ve got to read how much fun it really is.