Monday, December 12, 2005

50 Cups of Coffee and You Know it's On!

“For every moment of triumph, for every instant of beauty, many souls must be trampled.” Mongolian adage.

There is a point at every party after the mayhem has orgasmed and lies flaccid in the corner amidst the cigarette butts and spilled booze when reality sets back in and we each look at each other with half-embarrassed smiles and wonder what’s next. This is a moment of absolute beauty, pure savage humanity when the bubble’s broken and the myth’s uncovered just a split second before it is re-glossed into a bitter version of its former self. And, it is for this one instant of honesty that makes it special.

At least this is what I told myself as I tried to figure how the fuck I was going to get back to my house from somewhere in Balham, South London at 8:30 am Sunday morning. For those of you wondering why I was near Brixton at such an ungodly time, don’t ask, for that story will only be revealed upon my death, when you’ll be able to find an envelope containing yellowed pages of A4 with the simple, discrete yet scandalous title The Story. Just know that it was worth it and it lives up to singular magnificence of a great ‘moment.’ As I sit here with some Modest Mouse cranked to drown out the ringing in my ears and drinking bourbon by the pint-glass along with a grapefruit to counter act the toxicity that well G&T’s always brings, I am left pondering only at what point in my evening that started out as mundane discussion over the virtues of single malt Scotland Whisky compared with good quality Kentucky Bourbon transform itself into night of chaos, with some fear and loathing thrown in just to keep it weird. Once the shoe dropped and the gear changed, however, I followed my ingrained instinct to follow it into its raw and bloody end.

The night started out with a birthday party near Clapham Junction (south London)…that I couldn’t find for two hours. Finally, after getting on the “wrong” right bus twice, I was rescued from my fate in a Westminster pub filled with drunk MPs and coppers by my new flat mate, Viv who graciously encouraged me to give it another go and who temporarily left the party to met me at the subway just to ensure my eventual arrival at a club whose existence I doubted. As a penalty for my inability to find the bar, even though I argued that I hate buses and never drink down south, I was forced to finish the tray of shots that remained from happy hour; my recollection is that this feat equated to 2 Sambucas with which I was able to amaze my new best friends by lighting them on fire and drinking the flames off the palm of my and others’ hands, 2 tequilas and something called a “Flat Line” that is a mixture of Sambuca & Tequila separated with a layer of Tobasco Sauce, after which I decided I needed to work on a bit of sobriety and ordered a Rolling Rock from the bar, horrified to discover that they didn’t have it, refused to have some Fed-Exed and that I was going to either drink beer of some sort or the infamous well gin and tonic that they only pour in doubles. After explaining to the aussie bar tender that I really needed Rolling Rock, else I’d be too ‘ass-holed’ to be held accountable for my actions on account of me not eating after my run and drinking 5 shots in less minutes he replied that “eating is cheating in Britain” and that if I failed here, I’d be “a disgrace to America, and if you need food, I can pour Red Bull into your Gin.” Remembering what happened last time I drank Red Bull drinks at a birthday party, that is, me setting out to find the car in a thunderstorm and upon not being able to find it decided I probably shouldn’t drive, Josh breaking his ankle after thinking he should go jog, a 40 dollar cab ride in Lawrence, Jed falling asleep in a bike box (I have the photo somewhere) and in the morning discovering that together we spent more than 40 dollars on 2 dollar Red Bull and Vodkas, I opted for the Gin with no Red Bull.

Keep in mind, I did this all to keep up the American end in fact the entire night was perpetrated in order to keep up the American end. I couldn’t have our great nation branded as a bunch of “mancy faggots” by an Aussie bartender on account of me not being able to hold my liquor.

The rest of what ensues is transcribed from my field notes hastily scribbled in the back of the cab I took to Belham.

Roger: “Ben!! We’re glad you’re here!”
Ben (not sure why this really tall man is shouting at me): “Fuck it was a bloody nightmare, this is why I never come south of the river”
Viv: “Boo!! You live south of the river”
Ben: “right, forgot, where’s Pete (why are they always called
Viv (Pete’s gf): “he’s dancing on the table”
Ben: “Fair enough.”
Haley (After a big grope) “Ben, glad you made it… very glad… why and how the fuck did you end up in Vauxhall?”

author’s note: In Britain, ‘fuck’ does not have the same meaning as in the States; rather it does, but we use it more frequently. I was once congratulated on my ability to swear from a friend who said “most Americans just sound funny when they swear, you, however, have learned well”
also, groping upon meeting is quite common, as is shagging, snogging, and otherwise rampant casual sex. It’s actually a wonder why this place doesn’t have way more VD and a population crises…though, that does it explain the penicillian in the fridge…

As I was continuing my conversation and being lectured about the finer points of London’s geography, the DJ started spinning some old school daft punk

Roger: “we need to bounce” and then proceeded to instruct us all in how to bounce, by
shouting “okay, and 1, 2, 3, 4 and bounce and bounce and bounce,” and like the
sheep we were, low and behold, we bounced, pogo style for about 2 minutes at
which point Robert started wielding a phallic shaped balloon and we all
immediately scrambled to find more women to talk to—Roger henceforth was
banished and spent his time either instructing others in the art of bouncing or
poking people in the ear with his dick shaped balloon. Good Times.

The next line in my notes came from the next morning after stumbling to find the high street, “Balham? Why in fuck’s name am I in Balham? Taxi!!). I guess the shots and G&T’s kicked in. I blame the lack of Rolling Rock. I’ll fill you in with details as they arrive.

Viv and I were talking one day about London and what it’s like to move here, either from the provincial cornfields of back-water Kansas (yes, I’ve been reading the Journal World and Kansas is slipping further and further back into the water from what was once a promising place in the ecclesiastical food chain) or from back water sheep pastures of Northern Wales. Her conclusion is that you can get anything you want in London, money, power, sex, a great flat and good food, but you have to go get it yourself because London is a cruel bitch (her words) to the complacent. I thought that was such a great description of this city that I had to share. It’s like Alice’s Restaurant with punk clubs and cocaine—well, more cocaine. The context of this conversation harkens back to the search for places to live, a dreadfully hard process in such a big city with so much diversity choice and opportunity. On a metaphysical level, however, London is one large opportunity: to do what you want, to be who you want to be and achieve what you want to achieve. Buried in the warrens is every possible thing imaginable. Great opportunity, however does also means great risk, temptation, and that dear friends is the price of London. We often joke that one spends half of their time here learning about all of the things they missed while living the other half—thus leading to one of my favorite mis-quotations of Johnny Cash, “To touch and taste and feel as much as a man can before he repents.”

Christmas season is upon us here as well; meaning that this is now a time of office parties, house parties and generalized opportunities for merriment that are otherwise oppressed throughout the year; so for those of you I miss in the Christmas card flurry, Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, and for the less socio-religious, Happy Winter Drinking Season or maybe even have a nice Festivus or just good day.

Well, this post is now ridiculously long, so I’ll say, things are good, so so long and as always thanks for reading.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you have time to write your Phd after these posts. Get to work boy. People grow old in London.

ghetto bike racer

3:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but i did like the part about drinking red bull in lawrence.

3:06 AM  
Blogger Ben-in-UK said...

I can't please any of you can I. My posts are either too long or too far apart; though, I guess I can't spend too much time slagging off my readers.

At least it's not 2500 words on the Kreb cycle...'mitochondrial carbohydrate assimilation' my ass.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ShaZAAAAMM! It just took me a pot of coffee to finish your post, but damnit... it was worth every bit. Now I can't sit still. Sometimes, the best experiences in life are spent while one is not-so-sober. Either that, or while intoxicated, one talks himself into believing that he is truly on an adventure of epic proportions (sp?). It's kind of like a Gumby pizza. Great at 3am, but horrible during the normal hours of the day. Still, sounds like an adventure I would have liked to adven....tured.

ghetto bike racer turned semi-corporate

4:24 PM  

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