8 — Gambas
Seth [00:00:15] Hello. Welcome to Storytime. Today’s episode: Gambas.
Joe Mande [00:00:20] I was telling Richard that this is like a story I’ve had that I’ve just it’s too long for stand up and it’s like, you know, like, I don’t know what to do with it. So this is perfect.
Seth [00:00:30] That’s perfect. I will do something with it. Is it a story you find yourself telling a lot?
Kylie Augustine [00:00:34] Oh, no. I’ve never told it. No. I wouldn’t. I don’t want to. I don’t want to remember it.
Seth [00:00:43] Do you think about it a lot?
Joe Mande [00:00:48] Um. Yeah.
Seth [00:00:53] Joe Mande is a writer, actor and stand up comedian.
Joe Mande [00:00:57] Kylie and I met in college, actually.
Seth [00:00:59] Kylie Augustine saves puppies.
Kylie Augustine [00:01:02] I work at the ASPCA.
Seth [00:01:04] That’s amazing.
Joe Mande [00:01:05] She’s been with me since I was doing open mics in Boston. And so like, she put her time in seeing like just the worst shit. Those early years being with a comedian is really difficult because you are so committed and going out every night and you have to be, like, fully delusional.
Kylie Augustine [00:01:24] I wouldn’t say I’m like a stand up comedy fan.
Seth [00:01:31] Where we pick up our story they’ve been dating a little while.
Kylie Augustine [00:01:34] Our schedules are just so different and we really don’t get a lot of time away.
Seth [00:01:39] They deserved a vacation. They booked their tickets for 10 days in Spain.
Joe Mande [00:01:45] This vacation was very much like we don’t see a lot of each other, even though we live with each other. Let’s like do this fun European experience where we’re around each other more than we’ve ever been.
Seth [00:01:58] Finally, getting a great dose of one another.
Joe Mande [00:02:00] Exactly.
Seth [00:02:01] What could possibly go wrong? What was your kind of diagnosis of comedians when you were around them for the first time?
Kylie Augustine [00:02:17] I could definitely tell there was some like processing of emotions and feelings going on, and that was sort of the outlet to do that in.
Seth [00:02:27] I would say, if you are a comedian, you probably have some trouble processing your emotions properly.
Kylie Augustine [00:02:33] Yeah.
Seth [00:02:34] Yes.
Joe Mande [00:02:35] The fact that we were able to come away with this knowing it was a a funny story, I think says a lot. You know?
Seth [00:02:44] Yes. But you did start going to therapy afterwards.
Joe Mande [00:02:49] Yeah.
Seth [00:02:52] This is a romantic episode of Storytime, although it might not seem like it. This is a story about true love. And just so you know going into this, we interviewed Joe and Kylie separately on two separate occasions. So we had both of their completely unfettered perspectives on this story. Let’s get started. The vacation got off to a fantastic start.
Joe Mande [00:03:27] So we spent the first four or five days in Madrid.
Kylie Augustine [00:03:31] Madrid was great.
Joe Mande [00:03:31] Did Madrid up like museums and churros and tapas.
Seth [00:03:36] It’s lovely there.
Joe Mande [00:03:37] Yes. We’re having such a fun time.
Seth [00:03:39] The second part of the trip? Even more special.
Joe Mande [00:03:41] We’re going to drive down to the Costa del Sol like, you know, on the Mediterranean coast. So we were going to like, you know, do Madrid up and then like spend some days on the beach. Malaga, I believe?
Seth [00:03:53] Malaga. Actually, it’s more, I think, Malaga? Joe is not a fantastic Spanish speaker.
Joe Mande [00:03:59] You know, we were trying to rely heavily on the fact that she spoke Spanish. Like she took Spanish in high school.
Seth [00:04:06] Ooh. Yeah.
Kylie Augustine [00:04:06] I was in honors Spanish in high school.
Seth [00:04:08] So Kylie’s on Spanish duty and it falls on Joe to drive the car.
Joe Mande [00:04:12] We had this rental car and it’s a Spanish car called a SEAT.
Kylie Augustine [00:04:17] I remember that car well, yes.
Seth [00:04:19] How do you like see…
Joe Mande [00:04:21] It’s spelled SEAT. That was making me laugh. Carrell’s like, you can’t just name a car after a part of a car.
Seth [00:04:28] After a part of the car. The Honda WHEEL.
Joe Mande [00:04:31] Right, here is my Kia TURN SIGNAL. It was just sort of like a low end European rental car, a kind of a piece of shit, and it was manual transmission.
Kylie Augustine [00:04:42] I don’t drive stick. I never learned.
Joe Mande [00:04:44] I knew how to drive one, but it had been a while. So we so we got the SEAT, we sat down in the seats of the SEAT.
Seth [00:04:53] It was time to hit the road for a daylong romantic road trip through an exotic land.
Joe Mande [00:04:58] Our day of travel from Madrid to Malaga is still to this day what Kylie considers the worst day of her life.
Seth [00:05:06] The worst day of her life.
Singers [00:05:14] Storytime. Storytime. Yeah.
Joe Mande [00:05:28] So from Madrid to Malaga, I believe it’s like a five, maybe six hour drive, right? And right in the middle, the midpoint is a city called Cordoba. So we were like, OK, we’ll stop in Cordoba, get lunch, get back on the road and get to our like fancy resort hotel. We get to Cordoba right like we thought we would at lunch time, and everything is closed. Like legit like every restaurant, every like brunch spot is not in operation. During the day there’s there’s siestas.
Seth [00:06:07] That has been like culturally instituted. It’s like, well, we wake up, drink wide, work for three hours and then take a long nap.
Joe Mande [00:06:15] And yeah, if you need something, fucking figure it out. Go somewhere else.
Seth [00:06:18] Yeah, exactly. This town is closed.
Joe Mande [00:06:21] Yeah.
Seth [00:06:22] But that afternoon, Joe and Kylie were in luck.
Kylie Augustine [00:06:25] We finally found this restaurant that was open that had like two people at it.
Seth [00:06:30] Sitting on a cobblestone street under one of those umbrellas. You know, the romance of Spain.
Joe Mande [00:06:41] And we’re looking at the menu and everything’s in Spanish and we don’t understand what anything is, so…
Kylie Augustine [00:06:49] I do speak a little Spanish, but there are many years in between high school and that trip.
Joe Mande [00:06:55] And it became very clear that she was out of practice and everyone in Spain speaks much faster than, like high school. So like, we really weren’t speaking much Spanish to people and just like just a pure American tourist just expecting people to speak English. And it was working out fine in Madrid. We’re looking at the menu and Kylie finally, like, asks the waiter in Spanish, like, what do you recommend? What’s good here? And he goes, Gambas.
Kylie Augustine [00:07:22] Gambas, great.
Joe Mande [00:07:23] And she’s like, Great, we’ll get one large gambas por favor.
Kylie Augustine [00:07:26] Let’s get Gambas and Coca-Cola.
Joe Mande [00:07:29] But he said he was going to make us like a special plate of gambas.
Seth [00:07:32] Ooh. A very special plate of…what was it called?
Joe Mande [00:07:39] He leaves and I’m like, What are gambas? And she’s like, I don’t know. I forget.
Kylie Augustine [00:07:44] And I was like, I don’t know.
Joe Mande [00:07:51] And then the gambas, a steaming plate of Gambas arrived. And we learned that gambas are like prawns like giant like prawns.
Kylie Augustine [00:07:59] Likefully formed shrimp, just like legs, tentacles, shells. And we don’t eat shrimp. At the time, we were like, not shrimp eaters. And so we were like, Oh shit, what? What do we do?
Joe Mande [00:08:13] And he lays them down and she’s like, Thank you so much. These look great. And as he walks away, she’s like, I’m not eating that.
Seth [00:08:24] Perfect great. I’m not. There’s no way. Joe had his work cut out for him.
Joe Mande [00:08:38] I’m struggling to, like make a dent in the gambas.
Seth [00:08:41] Guild gambas. They’ve become guilt gambas.
Joe Mande [00:08:43] Yes, 1000 percent guilt gambas. And they’re just steamed, like there’s nothing special about them. It’s just like kind of slimy and steamy. And I I, you know, in 2009, wasn’t like super proficient and gambas eating. So like, I didn’t know, I didn’t know how to rip off the heads or the legs. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just like, it was a travesty what I was doing to this plate of gambas and I was like getting nothing out of it.
Seth [00:09:06] Kylie, in the meantime…
Joe Mande [00:09:07] She was like, he made this special, like, it’ll be rude. So I was like, All right, um…
Seth [00:09:14] So I’m going to not eat and you’re going to eat them and I’m gonna eat nothing. So the gambas were- did not work out.
Kylie Augustine [00:09:21] No. And so we basically had Coca-Cola for lunch.
Seth [00:09:27] Great lunch. What everyone pictured when they picture a Spanish Mediterranean lunch.
Kylie Augustine [00:09:32] It was delicious.
Seth [00:09:38] Joe choked down those little gambas and it was time to hit the road.
Joe Mande [00:09:43] I’m just like, Let’s get to the beach hotel early. You know, we can sit on the beach for a couple of hours and then treat ourselves to like a huge romantic, non- gambas dinner, right? And she’s like, That sounds perfect. Let’s do that. And I’m like, OK, but you know, if I’m going to get back on the road, I need a coffee. Hopefully, we can find like a coffee place. So into the GPS thing, I type in coffee and there’s a place around the corner from where we are, like less than a kilometer away. There’s an open coffee shop.
Seth [00:10:15] Joe threw the SEAT into first and cruised on out of there.
Kylie Augustine [00:10:19] So… at this point he went- he took a turn, which we thought was going around the block to find parking, and that’s when we entered the walled city.
Joe Mande [00:10:34] The walled, ancient city of Cordoba. So we like enter like a medieval gate…
Seth [00:10:45] And nothing was ever the same.
Kylie Augustine [00:10:47] No.
Seth [00:10:52] Joe was sluggish from the gambas, a bad taste in his mouth. Knowing he had a long drive ahead of him, he wanted his coffee. But the long standing cultural traditions of Spain had other plans.
Joe Mande [00:11:05] And we get to where this coffee shop supposedly is. It’s closed and we’re like, Of course, why would we expect this place to be open? And I’m like, OK, I don’t need coffee. Let’s just get- let’s just get to Malaga. Let’s get the fuck out of here.
Seth [00:11:18] Joe threw the SEAT into reverse. Something wasn’t right.
Joe Mande [00:11:26] This particular SEAT-.
Seth [00:11:27] This particular SEAT.
Joe Mande [00:11:29] Really had a hard time-.
Seth [00:11:31] Really had a hard time.
Joe Mande [00:11:33] Going in reverse.
Seth [00:11:34] Going in reverse.
Kylie Augustine [00:11:36] He had so much trouble putting it in reverse. I didn’t know how to say, maybe you should do it this way. Maybe you should do it that way. But like, I sort of knew he was doing something wrong because going in reverse cannot be that hard.
Joe Mande [00:11:51] I would stall out every time. It was, you know, very annoying, but it was also like, well, you know, how many times are we going to go in reverse in the SEAT, like whatever.
Kylie Augustine [00:12:04] When I say walled city, I mean, I feel like it was probably like a New York City square block with like twenty one way streets inside of it. As we were trying to navigate through, we saw that, like some streets were blocked off with like cones or whatever.
Joe Mande [00:12:28] We follow the GPS and it has us navigate these incredibly narrow, claustrophobic streets of this ancient walled city.
Kylie Augustine [00:12:39] And we’re like where are we? What do we do? And we get to this courtyard.
Joe Mande [00:12:43] We get to the other like medieval gate.
Kylie Augustine [00:12:46] But it’s a dead end.
Joe Mande [00:12:47] And it’s blocked by like two giant metal pillars.
Kylie Augustine [00:12:53] So, Joe is like bullshit. We’re a dead end, you know? And so this is where the reverse comes in. You push down and then do something, so he’s like jamming it down and like reversing was like very hard for him.
Seth [00:13:14] In this particular SEAT.
Joe Mande [00:13:19] I try to like turn around and I have to go in reverse for that. The car stalls out, it’s like, fuck. And so we go like a different way. We like cut through the middle of the city back towards where we began, which is the other gate. But I had forgotten that that- it’s one way traffic. You can only come in through there.
Kylie Augustine [00:13:37] We kept getting blocked.
Joe Mande [00:13:42] And then even if I wanted to do a psycho move and like drive the wrong way out of the city, that wasn’t an option because in the 20 or so minutes we had been in the city, they had blocked that entrance for some kind of parade that was going to happen later in the day.
Seth [00:14:00] This went on and on.
Joe Mande [00:14:02] Each time we like made a revolution, more and more streets were becoming closed for this upcoming parade. I’m not exaggerating. I think we made the same series of turns one hundred and fifty times. Like-.
Kylie Augustine [00:14:21] We just kept going around in circles.
Seth [00:14:23] There was no way out. I’m picturing this like when you play Pac-Man and the ghosts are just getting closer and you’re cornering yourself.
Joe Mande [00:14:35] Yes, and it is that. And so like, each time we end up back at that original locked gate. And each time we get there and there are children playing soccer in the middle of the street in front of the metal pillars, and we have to do, you know, an eight point turn to get back on the street, which means I’m stalling out eight times. Every time I go in reverse, the car stops. I have to like start the car over. So every time that happening, like the kids play soccer, stop and stare at us.
Seth [00:15:08] Were you good at driving? Like in general, did you have a lot of experience?
Joe Mande [00:15:12] Yes, that’s what was frustrating was that like, like, it really was not fully my fault that it was stalling. It was just like, This is a shitty car. It has trouble going in reverse.
Seth [00:15:23] I consider myself to be a pretty good driver. My father was actually a driving instructor. I had one of those cars with two steering wheels in it for a very big chunk of my childhood. And it would be frustrating to go to another country, be given a car that does not reverse particularly well and then get trapped in a walled city where you are called to use that one function over and over and over again. It would maybe make you start to crack a little bit.
Joe Mande [00:15:51] So every time we turn around, we’re also disrupting these kids’ soccer game because like, we’re like kind of blocking the field as it were, you know.
Seth [00:16:00] Which in a European country is a big deal.
Joe Mande [00:16:03] Yes. No, they were annoyed with us.
Seth [00:16:05] It would be very frustrating. And I think it would leave you starting to look for ways to cope with the situation.
Joe Mande [00:16:15] As we’re driving I’m trying to like keep the spirits up a bit and I’m like doing a bit where I’m like, I think we live here now. Like, I think we like, I think we can’t leave. I was like, There’s worse places to live. I mean, this is beautiful. What’s Spanish for open house? You know, that kind of thing like, let’s just like, let’s buy a place and um…
Kylie Augustine [00:16:35] And during this time, Joe’s uh…. Joe’s…
Joe Mande [00:16:38] The bits started becoming really dark where I was like, this car is going to run out of gas and I’m commit murder-suicide. Like, we’re both going to die in this fucking city. Like, like, we’re dead. We’re ghosts, we’re dead. I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill myself. And you know, every time the car would stall out when we would get to the gate and I would have to turn around, you know, I started doing that thing where I was like punching the steering wheel. I was just like, like just full meltdown mode. And like, you know, and it starts to like, enter the picture. Like, like, I’m going so psycho that I was like, she knows I’m a comedian, but like, there’s only so many times like you can tell a person in a half jokey way like, I’m going to kill you and kill myself. Like I…
Seth [00:17:31] It starts to not be a joke anymore.
Kylie Augustine [00:17:34] He easily gets upset. His rage was like off the charts. I mean, he says, two hours. I believe him. In the moment, for me, when when Joe is at that level, I’m I’m like, zen’d out and I’m like, We’re going to get through this. We’re going to be totally fine. If there’s a way in, there’s a way out. These people haven’t been trapped in here their whole lives. So we get- we’re at a point in the courtyard again and Joe is like, you know, flailing and screaming in the car. I can’t quite remember what made me realize like, Oh, I have to do something. Like, I have to- I have to ask someone right now. We have to get out of here. There may have been screaming. There was a man who was walking past our car, so I just roll down the window and asked him, like, excuse me, where’s the exit?
Joe Mande [00:18:39] She got like four words in.
Kylie Augustine [00:18:40] And he was like, what?
Joe Mande [00:18:41] This man gets beat red.
Kylie Augustine [00:18:45] And then he just started like yelling at the boys who were playing soccer.
Joe Mande [00:18:49] Yelling at the kids playing soccer in Spa- and I’m like, What is he saying? She’s like, I don’t know, it’s too fast. But she’s like, He’s like, just like berating these children like-
Kylie Augustine [00:19:00] And we’re like, What’s happening?
Joe Mande [00:19:02] And they stop their soccer game, and one kid goes up to a box and like, lifts a thing and presses a button.
Kylie Augustine [00:19:09] There was like a pole in the street, and they pressed the button that was on the pole.
Joe Mande [00:19:13] And the metal poles go down into the ground.
Seth [00:19:17] Are you kidding me?
Joe Mande [00:19:21] Like, they just like, descend into the cobblestones and they like part for us to like, drive past them.
Kylie Augustine [00:19:28] Like on a normal day, seeing that would be like, Whoa, Spain’s crazy, you know? But we’re like, what just happened? And Joe started cracking up.
Joe Mande [00:19:47] So like for for two hours, they saw us turning around and like none of them were like, Oh, we should hit the button that- the unmarked button that makes the metal poles-
Seth [00:19:58] that everybody in town knows about, that makes the metal poles go down.
Joe Mande [00:20:03] And like we get out of the city. So then I start I- I start cracking up. Like I have to pull over because I’m like cracking up. And then I’m like, Why the fuck? How the fuck should we have known that there is a button that makes the poles go down? I’m like cracking up.
Kylie Augustine [00:20:20] And I just start hysterically crying. I’m just like weeping. And he’s laughing. He’s like, Why are you crying? And I’m like, Well, I contained it for two hours, and here it comes out.
Joe Mande [00:20:33] I was just like, You have to find some humor in what just happened. She was like, I don’t. That was that was awful. You were really scary. I hated every minute of that.
Kylie Augustine [00:20:42] He’s like, All right, well, should we look for coffee? And I’m like, No. Get me the fuck out of here.
Singers [00:20:56] Story time. Story time, yeah.
Kylie Augustine [00:21:06] I think it was pretty much quiet after that. Yeah.
Joe Mande [00:21:08] We get back on the road and it’s three hours of silence. Of just like tense like it’s just like, OK, let’s just get to the hotel, right?
Seth [00:21:19] Three hours of driving in total silence, during which time, thankfully the reverse gear was not needed. Finally, our young couple arrives in Mabella Malaga, Spain.
Joe Mande [00:21:34] We envisioned like, you know, this like beautiful like Mediterranean area, when in reality that part of Spain is actually like England’s Florida.
Kylie Augustine [00:21:45] England’s Florida.
Joe Mande [00:21:47] If that makes sense?
Seth [00:21:48] Oh, it does.
Kylie Augustine [00:21:53] It was also the off season, so it was freezing. I mean, the resort was very much catered to like British tourists.
Joe Mande [00:22:00] And we asked the person at the hotel like, We are so hungry, we haven’t eaten all day. Is there like, is there a restaurant you recommend? And the guy’s like, oh, all the restaurants are closed now. But you’re not going to find anything in town. Like the restaurants are closed. We’re like, OK, so what do we do? And he was like, Well, you can eat here. The restaurant at the hotel, the pub is open. And we’re like, Yeah, I guess we’ll do that. We go down to the restaurant in the hotel and there’s a Manchester United game on. And we’re just like in a shitty elderly British soccer hooligan bar, right?
Seth [00:22:49] A perfect beach resort. Exactly what you picture when you picture a beautiful Mediterranean beach resort.
Joe Mande [00:22:56] Literally just like TV’s on and like framed soccer jerseys and shit. It was just like, fuck. So we order spaghetti with red sauce because that’s like the only thing that-
Seth [00:23:10] When in Spain!
Joe Mande [00:23:14] Right. We like order like two pints of beer or whatever. And we’re just like, and she’s just like, so miserable. And the food comes-.
Kylie Augustine [00:23:24] And it straight up tastes like chicken soup.
Joe Mande [00:23:27] It tastes like chicken soup.
Kylie Augustine [00:23:29] And I can’t understand why. And it’s like, again, I’m on the verge of tears. I’m like, This just can’t… Can’t get any worse.
Joe Mande [00:23:45] So we’re like choking down this chicken soup spaghetti…
Seth [00:23:51] In the British pub in Spain.
Joe Mande [00:23:52] In the British pub in Spain. And behind us is a group of like 60 year old Brits playing on a snooker table. I can’t do accents, but in like a thick British accent, he’s like, Oy, the snooker table’s, the same color as the Spanish flag innit, right? And I burst- I just start cracking up and Kylie starts cracking up. And then I look at Kylie and I go, The snooker table’s the same color as the Spanish flag, innit? And Kylie goes, What the fuck are you saying?
Kylie Augustine [00:24:28] I thought he was just laughing at like the absurdity of the day. And he was like, Wait, what are you laughing at? And I was like, I’m just sad.
Seth [00:24:44] Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were just laughing because you were sad.
Joe Mande [00:24:48] Yeah, right. That normal response. So then we just like go back to kind of like eating in silence. And the food is like so terrible that I go to the table over and I grab the like salt shaker and I start pouring salt on the pasta. And then she looks at me and she goes, What are you doing? And I was like, I’m putting salt on it. And she goes,
Kylie Augustine [00:25:12] Does salt make it better? And he was like, What do you mean, does salt make it better?
Joe Mande [00:25:20] And I was like, Have you never had salt before? And she takes it and starts pouring salt on her pasta as eats it and she’s like,
Kylie Augustine [00:25:30] Yeah, it does kind of taste better.
Joe Mande [00:25:33] So anyway, in my my version of the story, I consider this to be the story of Kylie learning how salt works.
Kylie Augustine [00:25:43] I learned about salt that day.
Seth [00:25:47] What did you think it did? Just made things saltier?
Kylie Augustine [00:25:51] Yeah, exactly.
Seth [00:25:52] Yeah, I get why you would think that, honestly.
Kylie Augustine [00:25:53] Yeah.
Seth [00:26:01] Now, I know you’re probably thinking, fuck you, Seth. You said this was a romantic episode of Storytime, and what I just heard was a couple that could not sound less like they are in sync. That do not sound like they are on the same page. How dare you imply that that is romance? You’re a piece of shit. Well, I got news for you. I’m not a piece of shit. Listen to how they describe this. And keep in mind, we did these interviews completely separate, days apart, the other having no idea what the other was saying.
Joe Mande [00:26:34] The food comes.
Kylie Augustine [00:26:35] And it straight up tastes like chicken soup.
Joe Mande [00:26:37] It tastes like chicken soup.
Seth [00:26:39] And this.
Joe Mande [00:26:40] England’s Florida?
Kylie Augustine [00:26:42] It’s very much like England’s Florida.
Seth [00:26:46] And this.
Joe Mande [00:26:47] I consider this to be the story of Kylie learning how salt works.
Kylie Augustine [00:26:53] I learned about salt that day.
Seth [00:26:55] In fact, when I asked each of them in their separate interviews on separate days without either of them talking to each other, if they could think of one image that would summarize this entire experience for them. If there’s one image in your head you have from this trip. If there’s one image in your head you have, what is it? Out of all the things that happened, out of all the things in the world, here’s what they both said.
Joe Mande [00:27:26] The gambas.
Kylie Augustine [00:27:27] What sticks out for me is that plate of gambas that kind of started it all.
Seth [00:27:34] I asked Joe, and he had the exact same answer.
Kylie Augustine [00:27:37] He did?
Seth [00:27:39] You two are bizarrely in sync with one another. You use the same words and phrases.
Kylie Augustine [00:27:45] Oh, that’s so funny.
Seth [00:27:46] It sounds like a story that you have both told together many, many, many, many times.
Kylie Augustine [00:27:53] No.
Seth [00:28:04] Storytime with Seth Rogen is an Earwolf production… Produced, edited and sound designed by Richard Parks III. Our executive producer is Frida Perez. Additional production by Josh Richmond, Renee Colvert, Jared O’Connell, Marcus Homme and Marina Paiz. With special thanks to Amelia Chappelow. Our artwork is by Robin Richesson. The theme music is by Andi Kristinsdottir. I’m Seth Rogen.
November 9, 2021
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