2:00. Chicken, salad, and crème caramel are eaten with gusto, and then it’s time to drive the boys to the community athletic center. Alvaro gets the taxi out of the garage. Even today he will cruise for several hours.
At the center, the boys and girls have been competing all week, and today there are the finals for the handball, basketball, and the water polo players. As a basketball captain, Alvaro Jr. picks his team, including his brother and the prettiest girls in the club. He has good taste, but is a bad loser. He will have to get over this if he ever realizes his ambition of becoming a physical education instructor. Juan, however, is much more relaxed. Every point scored brings an enthusiastic outburst and a chance to give his brother a hearty bear hug.
At home, Graciela is happy. It’s so rare that she has a day’s freedom that she can’t decide what to do. First she reads a bit, then picks up her knitting. Then she decides to surprise her men with one of her special cakes.
6:00. Graciela doesn’t know where the day went, and it’s already teatime. Alvaro never misses that, despite his busy schedule. On his way home, he picks up little Martín at the athletic center. Martín isn’t much of a sports fan. A gentle spirit, he is the poet and artist of the family.
7:00. Alvaro is back on the streets. Graciela prepares the evening meal, and Martin watches the never-ending adventures of Popeye and Olive Oyl on the television while puttering with his collection of treasures. Martin is a real pack rat. In a wooden box, he squirrels away bits of wool and pieces of cardboard that had been destined for the garbage, which he uses for his artwork. He is never idle. Everyone makes fun of him a little, but tonight it’s in the famous box that Graciela finds what she needs to make Juan an Indian costume for the athletic center’s end-of-the-season dance.
9:00. The house has grown chilly, and Graciela joins Martin by the fire. The meal is ready, but no one is there to eat it. It’s nine-twenty whenAlvaro comes in, and he is worried because the boys are still not home. Just then, the telephone rings. It’s Juan. They have played a game of Ping Pong with some friends and are taking the bus. They’ll be home in half an hour.
10:00. Juan and Alvaro Jr. arrive all excited and worn out, kiss their parents, collapse on the carpet, and describe the day’s victories and defeats. The end of their narrative is accompanied by the wolfing down of a ham-and-cheese pancake, Graciela’s famous cake, and several pieces of fruit.
The boys sprawl on the cushions in front of the TV. No matter how tired they are, they won’t miss the South American basketball finals, especially since Uruguay has a good chance. Alvaro, less fanatical than his sons, helps his wife clean up the kitchen, and ends his day with a shower.
11:30. Alvaro and Graciela’s bedroom is next to the boys’, so Graciela closes the door to cut down the unrelenting noise of their card playing and roughhousing. Vacations are like candies: to be savored to the very end.