Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Here's one for the Darwin Awards. Last Friday night in the working-class Barcelona suburb of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a group of seven Ecuadoran immigrants, at an impromptu party, drank a bottle of antifreeze thinking it was moscatel. They had found, while looking through a skip full of abandoned furniture, a bottle with a moscatel label on it that was filled with a greenish-blue liquid. (Real moscatel is golden-brown in color.) In order to celebrate their find of the furniture, they decided to have some drinks, so they put the bottle in the fridge and then drank it down. One of the seven victims said that she'd had only three glasses and that it was very good, nice and sweet. Anyway, on Saturday morning, they began to feel a lot worse than they should have, with vomiting and hallucinations. They went to a hospital where all were treated for possible liver and kidney damage; three have been released and the other four will make it. Because they all survived, we don't feel like ghouls making jokes about it, and we can tell you that the English-speaking community of Barcelona has been admonishing its members constantly, Woodstock-style, "Don't drink the blue moscatel." This is a true Darwin Award winner, as there was an eighth woman who was pregnant and so declined to drink anything; she was obviously the one who put two and two together and figured out it was the "moscatel" that had made them sick. She was the only one of the eight who demonstrated the qualities of fitness necessary to improve the species by passing on her genes. The other seven deserve to go sterile after pulling a dumb stunt like drinking a bottle of stuff they found in a garbage skip. This is not an urban legend. The hospitals involved were Esperit Sant in Santa Coloma and Sant Pau in Barcelona. The director of the Generalitat's department of Public Health, Lluís Salleras, made a public announcement that the poisoning had been accidental and that adulterated moscatel was not being sold anywhere. The author of the newspaper article, in Monday, November 4's La Vanguardia, is Luis Benvenuty.

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