Tuesday, March 01, 2005
14 things I learned or re-learned about London, myself, life, poo
Niceness gets you everywhere
I don't fly well. At all. This has been discussed before, so I need not get into now. So whenever I do fly, I try to be my nicest possible self, in order to atone for a lifetime of egregious sinning should my plane burst into a ball of flames somewhere over the cold, dark Atlantic.
This past trip to London was no exception. When I got to the airport, I was a complete mess: sweating like a sweat monster, visibly shaking, and gripping my pill bottle of Xanax with a ferocity that said, "If you want these, you're gonna have to pry them from my cold, dead fingers."
Check-in, security, etc went ok, and I was at the gate waiting, listening to my iPod. I decided to poop again, something that happens usually 15-20 times a day before I fly. When finishing up, over the loudspeaker I heard, "Will Passenger Jason Mulgrew please make himself known to the ground crew - Passenger Jason Mulgrew please make himself known to the ground crew." I was upset by this, thinking they were going to tell me that something was wrong and I couldn't get on the plane, at which point I would have turned around and spent the week trolling the airport high on Xanax and ogling girlie magazines with a giant erection. However, all they did was ask if I was willing to change my row (from an aisle seat to another aisle seat) so that a couple could sit next to each other. I happily agreed. Score some good karma for me.
A little later on, while rocking out, I heard another announcement over the PA: this time they were looking for someone to give up their seat and fly to London the next day. The person who did this would receive a first-class ticket the next day, hotel accommodations for the night, and a free round-trip ticket to London. I practically blew out my knees running to the ticket counter to volunteer for this. But alas, they were looking for a business-class passenger's seat. I was very nice to the ticket counter people and made some friendly banter with them and then sat down. Foiled and sad, I did what I thought was best: went to poop again.
As I came out of the bathroom, one of the ticket counter guys grabbed me. After a series of discussions and negotiations, it was decided that I would give up my seat, fly the next day, and get all the goodies for myself. Fucking A.
So because I was my nicest and friendliest, the ticket counter person remembered me, grabbed me as I came out of the bathroom, and gave me a free first-class ticket, a free round-trip ticket to London, and a free night at a nearby hotel. Quite a fortuitous beginning to my vacation.
[And yes, I realized that I just wrote two paragraphs without making a joke. And yes, this is a lame attempt at one. F you.]
Airport hotels are made for random sexual encounters
There is no doubt in my mind that, had I not been so tired from taking my pills before I learned that I wouldn't be flying out that night, I would have had a woman of the night delivered to my room. There I was, at the Ramada at JFK for only one night, a place I would surely never be again, so why not call a hooker? In the lobby and on the shuttle were passengers stuck in this random place for one night and one night only, and it just seemed an absolutely ideal fantasy land to invite a lady named Candy into my room and my world to share a special moment (and by "share a special moment", I mean I'd ask her to punch me in the face while I masturbated).
Sadly, I instead ordered the pizza and pitcher of beer special from the Pizza Hut, ate like a slob, and fell asleep with a piece of pepperoni in the bed. What a fucking loser.
First-class is only way to go
First-class: good LORD. As soon as I got in the cabin, all fears of flying were put to rest. Champagne was flowing! Better meals than I've had in months were being served! My seat turned into a real bed! A masseuse came by to offer her services (that got a little ugly, since when she did so I pointed at my crotch, pointed back at her, and winked - then she left)! At one point in the night while I slept, I half-awoke to find a stewardess tucking me in! Sweet Jesus!
I still don't know if I'm able to talk about it, so let's just move on. Suffice to say, if you haven't flown first-class, do so at any and all cost. Trust me.
Currency in London is different
I'm not talking about the exchange rate, which is a murderous $2 equals £1. Good lord - even at crummy local pubs, you'd see chalkboard signs outside offering a warm bowl of soup for only £3.50. That's $7 for a bowl of soup at a local pub. Unless that soup comes with a complementary blowjob or baby, no thanks.
I'm talking about the currency itself. The English are very big on coined money, so they have coin denominations as high as £1 and £2 ($2 and $4), so that any given time you can have $46 worth of change in your pocket.
And of course, as I got drunk, I never bothered to use these coins and instead threw up paper money on the bar. To ask me to sort through a handful of change in a dark bar after I've been drinking since noon is entirely too much, since at that point I usually stop wiping my ass. My first night in London I was so tired and jet-lagged (and, oh yeah, drunk) that I tried to pay for some drinks with an ATM receipt. Oops!
Bartenders are slow over there
For the most part, bartenders in London are s...l...o...w. I guess this is because they don't work for tips, but good god man - I'm dying here! Look at me! I need a fucking drink! Put down the paper and come over - there's hardly any people in the bar! Fuck it all to hell!
Well, you get it.
I can drink all by myself
It's official: I am completely comfortable drinking alone. By this I mean that I can both sit by myself in a bar and drink the day away and I also can drink alone but make friends with those around me. Whether it was at the Marlborough Arms in Bloomsbury where I struck up a conversation with a patron and local student or in Virgin's First-Class Lounge at JFK where I watched some of the NBA All-Star weekend festivities with the staff, I am totally ok with going somewhere alone to get drunk. Conversely, I have no problem sitting alone, in silence, reading a paper or just staring off into the distance, getting blasted by myself.
My mom would be so proud.
People who make their own cigarettes are awesome
I don't really have anything to add to this, I just think it's awesome. Smoking is cool enough, but when you create what you smoke, well, that's just really fucking cool.
London Bar Bathrooms, Volume I: The Urinal Trough
Ah, British bathrooms. You'd think that they'd be similar to their American counterparts, and well, they are. Mostly. There is one major difference: instead of separate urinals for guys to individually piss in, most bathrooms I saw in London had one long, single, stainless-steel urinal lining the wall, the Urinal Trough.
I often get stage fright in normal bathrooms, so you can imagine how impossible it is for me to piss when I'm standing with my bird out, willing myself to go, and some limeys jump on either side of me, shoulder to shoulder, and start going. Not good. Not good at all.
London Bar Bathrooms, Volume II: Great Fucking Shitters
I will say this: we could really learn something from the Brits when it comes to shitters. For me, there is no greater pet peeve than being at a bar and having to take a dump and going to the bathroom to see the toilet exposed, the stall door having been ripped off, and the toilet itself without a seat. I don't understand why bar owners don't take better care of their shitters. Have they never been in a situation when they are out with friends and suddenly, like a kick to the stomach, they have to poo? Have they no compassion for their customers who might be thrust into a similar situation? And how am I supposed to do cocaine discreetly? Should I do it in an abandoned car, like a common street criminal? I think not - I make WAY too much money for that.
But the shitters in London pubs - wow. Not only did they have the requisite seat and plenty of toilet paper, but some of them had doors that stretched from the floor to the ceiling! And they were on the whole very clean. Pooing in them was quite an experience, something I will savor for a long time to come, and certainly the next time I'm shitting in an alley outside an NYC bar because the bar doesn't have a working HPV-less toilet.
London Bar Bathrooms, Volume III: Two Faucets In One Sink Is Stupid
I don't understand why anyone would have this type of sink, with two faucets in one sink, yet they're everywhere in London. I don't get it - your choices are really cold water which comes out of one spigot or really hot water which comes out the other.
Why hasn't this been made obsolete by the single faucet which provides cold water, hot water, warm water, and all degrees in between? I don't mean to get all Seinfeld here, but really, what is up with these sinks?
Whatever control I had over my colon is now gone
Gone. See ya. Vamoose, son of a bitch. Without exaggeration, I shit, on average, six times a day. It got so bad that I was shitting after every beer. One time, I looked into the toilet and saw a can of Carling looking back at me. Another time, I swore I shit out my heart, or at least the top of it.
I don't really know what to do about this, except of course write about it here. So looks like you'll just have to learn to live with it.
I have no esophagus
I would not be shocked if the next time I went to my doctor, after checking my throat he backed away and said, "Jason, I don't know how to tell you this, but it appears that your esophagus has been burned away by acid reflux, beer, and nacho cheese."
It's getting pretty bad, because my heartburn (or whatever the hell it is) is becoming a major hindrance to my drinking. It was so bad in London that when I got back I made an appointment to see my doctor, but I've already seen him about it, so I know what's going to happen when I see him again in two weeks:
Doctor: "So have you been taking the pills?"
Doctor: "And they don't work?"
Doctor: "When do you take them?"
Me: "Usually with my second beer of the night."
Doctor: "OK, well, you shouldn't be drinking at all if you want to reduce your severe heartburn, let alone taking your heartburn medication with beer. How about your diet? What do you eat?"
Me: "Um, usually beef patties and salsa. I also like orange juice and pizza with a whole bunch of shit on it."
Doctor: "Get the fuck out of my office."
Pray for me. That's all I ask.
I (still) have no game
Top three lines said to women while in London (surprisingly, they were unsuccessful):
* "Seriously, who's your all-time favorite pope? I like Clement VI." (Tuesday, 8:48pm)
* "Yeah, to me, sex is just a game." (Thursday, 10:11pm)
* "Why don't we go back to my place to listen to some Terence Trent D'Arby?" (Thursday, 11:49pm)
All the ladies out there: just tell us guys what you want. Because I don't know, and I don't think I'm ever going to find out unless you just tell me.
That really hit the spot
I am seldom satisfied with the present. Indeed, most times I find myself either blissfully ensconced in a state of maudlin nostalgia or conversely constantly planning, plotting, and portraying the future in my mind (that was me trying too hard to write a good sentence).
But there were times when I was alone in those pubs with nothing to do and all the time in the world to do it that I was able to achieve a sort of nirvana - inasmuch as someone as "deep" as the half-empty pint glass before him can possibly achieve nirvana.
And though I hate when people put lyrics on their blogs, it reminded me of the line, "Oh that magic feeling/Nowhere to go". For the first time in a long time, I was able to enjoy and relish this feeling and for that I am very grateful (as I am very grateful to my friend Nicole for both putting me up and putting up with me for the week).
And now I'm here planning my next trip and wondering what it would be like to have sex with a hot dead girl on a beach. [sigh] Such is life.