Today the long stretch of holidays is officially over, and it’s back to work and school. That means that some of the university students who live in my neighborhood saw this weekend as their last chance to whoop it up for a while.

Saturday night, there was quite a ruckus upstairs, with furniture being dragged around to the accompaniment of shouting and laughter. It seemed that our loud, young, and inconsiderate neighbors were having a party. I finally took a sleeping pill at 1:00 AM and that was the last I heard until yesterday morning, when the ruckus had moved down to the lobby.

This time, it seemed that all of the older residents of the building had gathered and were having a lively (LOUD) discussion. It went on, and on, and on. I was trying to write, and it was making me nuts, but I kept at it until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Finally, I got dressed and headed out to buy bread. The group in the lobby was still there, still talking. My across-the-hall neighbor (Sra. Shouty) was on the landing, telling another neighbor, “They were making a lot of noise upstairs, and at 3:30 a group of kids rang my doorbell by mistake. And then, at about 4:00 I heard a loud bang, but I wasn’t sure what it was.”

“What happened?” I asked here.

“That,” she said, pointing down.

Those are our nearly-new mailboxes on the floor. The brick area behind is where they used to live.

Even when I lived here in my 20s and was doing a fair bit of partying myself, I was astonished at the Spanish capacity for drunken mayhem. It seemed that each Monday morning there was a story in the news about some gruesome fatal traffic accident over the weekend. Nearly every time, a young person was involved, driving drunk.

The Spanish police have cracked down hard on drunken driving, and most Spanish drivers take the law very seriously. But there’s been less success in stopping “street” drinking, especially the odious custom of the “botellón,” where huge groups of kids get together in public squares, on beaches, or even in industrial parks, to drink. There are rapes, and fights, and fires.

The party upstairs this weekend probably wouldn’t qualify as a “botellón,” but the destruction in our lobby is as much an offshoot of this youth drinking culture as anything that happens outdoors. And it’s just as impossible to understand.

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