Better Than Yours

January092009-01-14_7My twenty first birthday could not have been more ridiculous or fabulous than it was. This was most likely due to the great number of friends and random people on the street whom I shamelessly informed that I LOVE my birthday, in the days leading up to December. You know that all encompassing thrill and obsession that the average five year old vibrates with when their birthday is coming up? You know, the “oh my god, I’m only 4 and 364/365ths for another four hours! Ahhhh!” Well, whether luck or insanity, this spirit has been preserved in my annual celebrations- except for the counting part. Math is not my thing. Parties are.

It’s amazing what people will do for you when they know that you’re pretty much guaranteed to flip out over it. The celebration of my entering the ranks of the drinking, in Boston, was celebrated over a period of about two weeks wherein I drank every single day, virtually gave up sleeping, and the only food I remember eating was hastily acquired in the interest of drinking more. Taking place at the end of the semester this means I completed all of my finals while drunk. Except the one that I missed entirely because of the boy in my bed- woops.

Since the actual day of my birth fell on a Monday I planned for it to be pretty low key with the whole having to go to class the next day thing and all. Went to the BU Pub for a couple ceremonial drinks, since I could, but the friends I went with somehow turned it into a Boston bar tour through the 10 degree weather. One of them lost her phone which was later found in her bra. I almost ate the origami flower in one hand instead of the chicken finger in the other. And I’m fairly certain I did the splits more than once, in more than one bar (it’s apparently my go-to drunken party trick).

Then there was the actual party- on the weekend, when normal people go out. I’d already been drunk for five days at this point, but now I was dressing up for it. In a wonderful stroke of genius my roommate had organized a James Bond Pub Crawl, thus allowing for all the girls to dress like sexy Bond girls and guilting the guys into wearing tuxes (and I may have told them they didn’t have to get me a present if they dressed up). The night was perfection. A friend who had flown out from California for the occasion was lost between bars 2 and 3 when she wandered into a fire station. I gave my shoes to another friend. Being a massive lightweight I’d had enough to drink that I probably should have been dead a few times over, but the alcohol gods kept me going all night without even an inkling of a hangover. 

The walk home was slightly more difficult in having to keep one girl from going home with strangers, realizing we were barefoot at 2 a.m. on Comm. Ave., and getting a short-lived piggy back ride from Christian, a nice boy walking his bike home while holding his broken light saber. That night ended in the amazingness that is challah grilled cheese sandwiches, but the shitshow continued.

Went to the back bar of Our House (around the corner from the foosball tables) where I got to pick drinks out of ‘the book’- I can recommend Sex in a Hot Tub only because it’s the one thing I remember drinking. Edited my entire final movie project with a beer in my hand and my professor thought it was somewhat incredible. Inevitably, since I was treating my body like the rum punch bowl at the assembly hall (read some early 19th c. literature, you’ll get this reference and be very sophisticated- like me), I got a pretty nasty case of the flu. Thus I added a healthy dose of Nyquil to the mix, and a few more naps. This did not stop me from attending $1 draft Thursday night at An Tua Nua upon request. I was not so sure I wouldn’t collapse, but had a couple assurances that someone would catch me, so I danced and drank with energy that came from god knows where. I also vaguely recall agreeing to be somebody’s little spoon.

The ramifications of those couple of weeks followed me for a bit after that. Got a call from one gentleman asking me out who came up on my phone as Creepy Boy. I told him I was moving to California, he asked if I was blowing him off, I said yes. I also garnered a reputation for being a lot cooler than I really am. I suppose I felt the need to live up to that when I flew to London three weeks later.

Basically the festivities of my 21st birthday are so marvelous as to be virtually unmatchable. But I am turning 22 soon…

Scotland’s Best Bartender

MitreBarOne day, while living in London, I thought it would be fun to go to Scotland. So I did, the next day.  With only a couple of sketchy run-ins during my connection through Glasgow I made it to Edinburgh at 1am. Only one trip around the national gallery, alone, in the dark, later I found a cab that got me to my hotel. There, the exceptional night manager at the George Hotel made up for the evening’s adventures by upgrading my room to a king sized suite (thank you, Eric).

Then, in the process of a trip that included pretending the cannon ceremony in Edinburgh Castle for the Queen’s birthday was for my benefit, and aimlessly wandering the city in search of escapades and free booze I happened upon a pub. I had already stumbled on the tourist marvel that is the Scotch Whisky Experience- a thrill ride wherein you play the part of grain, that ends with many shots of the ‘water of life’ in the interest of flavor appreciation- and was quite a few sheets to the wind at this point. As such, food seemed like a reasonable idea, and the first pub I found wandering down the Royal Mile was as good a place as any. It turned out to be much better than that.

Looking oh-so-classy stumbling into the Mitre Bar at four in the afternoon, smelling like all of Scotland’s best distilleries simultaneously, I sat myself at the bar in front of Jamie the Hot Bartender. I picked the right pub.

“I would like some Scottish food please.”

“As opposed to what, lass?”

Before I continue some things need to be said about the Scottish accent. Namely, that hearing it will in all likelihood make you at least consider removing all of your clothes. Also, that my name with these intonations takes on a life all its own resulting in involuntary shivers down my spine.

With that understanding, and one that the April tourists on the Royal Mile are either elderly couples or travel weary honeymooners, what happened next makes a little (not a lot) more sense.

Jamie decided that the tourist trap I’d been through earlier in the day may have been successful in getting me sloshed, but failed horribly in providing me with any real education about whisky. And really who better to get a lesson from than a Scottish bartender? Whether that was the only thing I wanted to learn from him is completely irrelevant. Somewhere in between the shots that seemed to magically appear in front of me before I’d swallowed their predecessors I did eat some food. I don’t remember what it was, but I’m sure there was eating because there is no way I would have retained consciousness if there wasn’t. Jamie didn’t hesitate to put another shot in front of me- this one from Islay.

Now I didn’t know much about whisky, but I knew that there are those that slide down your throat into a cozy pool, and those that burn. And whatever they put in Islay whisky (I’m fairly certain it’s fire), it burns. So I refused- probably with more slurring and less courtesy than I normally possess. Jamie’s rather brilliant solution was to drink that one himself and give me a Speyside so deceptively strong that my vocal cords went numb.

“How’d you like that then?”

Couldn’t really respond what with the vocal incapacitation. But that didn’t seem to be the kind of response he was looking for anyway.

“Aye. I was hoping that’s what you’d say.”

And then Jamie leans over the bar and kisses me. Like really kisses me. Hand in my hair, eyes closed, just a little bit of tongue- all with a two foot bar and about twenty shot glasses between us. He let go as I swayed rather precariously on my bar stool. Honestly, I was all set to clear the bar and pull him on top of me right then, but I was having trouble remembering how to use my legs, so I settled for smiling.

There were other patrons in the bar and it was technically his job to serve them so the amber bottles and I would occasionally be left to our own devices. This made for really the most pleasant afternoon a girl could spend- interspersed with quick, intense kisses and Jamie saying my name just because he could tell I trembled down to my toes every time he did.

Eventually I had to leave and catch my train. I regained enough use of my legs to make it out the door and down the street, but not enough sense to realize that the process works better when you’re facing the direction you’re walking. I tripped over the threshold as I savored my last few seconds of eye contact with Jamie the Hot Bartender. Totally worth it.

Fulham Walk of Shame

ruthorkinThe concept of walking home the morning after an excessively enjoyable night out is new to no one. I’m not entirely sure it’s possible to get through four years of college without doing it at least once, whether or not you have actually done anything to be ashamed of. The night before quickly becomes irrelevant in the face of a cocktail mini dress parading down the sidewalk in the middle of the day.

After a night out that culminated in a very nice British girl trying to open the door with her umbrella through the mail slot, one of the guys climbing the house to break in a window while another acted as a stool, all while I was artfully draped over the fence in my drunken stupor, our little group promptly passed out in a lovely little house somewhere in Fulham. The morning brought with it a headache and false promises of pizza, both of which made it seem like a good time to go home.

Actually, I use the term ‘morning’ loosely considering the hour was something closer to three in the afternoon. Luckily I had two upstanding gentlemen to walk me to the nearest tube station. But, while my gorgeous ensemble of short, strapless, satin with fishnets and knee high leather boots was a genuine work of genius 18 hours previously, there was a definite air of ‘whore’ about it in the harsh light of day. Sadly the combination of the outfit and my escort was not doing me any favors. A favor I really could have used when it became apparent that there was a Chelsea football game that day. It may seem that one should have nothing to do with the other, but the entirety of Chelsea’s exuberant football fans were en mass outside the stadium, and thus around the very tube station I needed to get to. Football games are very family friendly. My current predicament was not- by all appearances. I really didn’t help my case any when one of the guys said he was cold.

“You think you’re cold? At least you’re wearing pants.” In England pants are underwear, which are knickers, which are decidedly not trousers. So, in the midst of children and drunken men I had just announced that I was going commando. Which I wasn’t.  And my afternoon only got better.

Now on my own in the Underground the stares got a little more pointed and lingering, but that was hardly unexpected. The little girl who stared at me for a full five minutes was. Sensing that absolutely no one was going to come to the defense of the girl with no pants on I stared back. And then she reached up to whisper to her mother, loudly.

“Mummy, why is that lady all dressed up?”

This woman looks at me, looks at her daughter, and slowly turns the little girl around to face away from me. “Because she makes bad decisions.”

Now I knew I was hardly the classiest girl prancing around London, but that was just uncalled for. So, when I left the station and a random man asked me to get some coffee, I’d really had enough for one afternoon and walked off towards my flat. “I can’t actually. I’m off to find my dignity. I’m pretty sure I left it somewhere over this way.”

Making Out with Strangers

subwaykissFirst of all, I just have to say that I am not the kind of girl that makes out with strangers. Whatever kind of girl that is.

On a Tuesday morning in late February I took this particular train to a job interview in Camden. And in black stilettos and a waistcoat that displayed my assets to best effect I also took the train back home. While waiting on the platform a tall, dark, and exceptionally well-dressed man stands next to me.

“Excuse me? I want to go to Green Park. Is this the right train?”

After fumbling with my iPod earphones and realizing that he is in fact speaking to me in his Spanish-British accent I tell him that Green Park is only two stops from where we are, obviously.

“So this is the train you’re getting on?”


“You’re American, aren’t you?”

The all but empty train pulls into the station and we get on, and stand facing one another on opposite sides of the car. I nod, but since I don’t really have any idea what’s going on, I wait for him to say something else, not that it’s really his words that I am paying any attention to.

“Well you don’t seem American.”

“What do I seem like?” Seeing as I can’t really hear him over the clattering of the tube down the rails, it seems best to go with short sentences. His solution is a little different. He comes over to my side and leans against the wall above me.

“You seem like sunshine.” It’s a really good thing I am not paying attention to what he’s saying at this point.

Then the announcement sounds: Next stop, Green Park.

And then there’s the moment. Eye contact and a sudden and perfect understanding of the fact that we will never see each other again, we probably won’t get another chance to take advantage of how good we look this morning, and the idea of it not happening is so ridiculous that it doesn’t even merit contemplation. And that’s when I made out with a complete stranger on the Piccadilly line. It couldn’t have been more than a few (extremely sensual, slow, hot, perfect) kisses when the train stopped. The doors opened, we smiled at one another, and he picked up his briefcase and went off to work. The bubble of perfection that had formed in that first moment of eye contact popped.

I was left with a mild case of whisker burn, glares from the elderly English matron across the aisle, and a smile.

Then I realized how crazy the moment was. Because contrary to the training of fairytales and grandmothers alike I did not want to know this guy’s name, would really prefer it if I never saw him again, and certainly would not be stalking the Piccadilly line at the same time everyday trying to find him and relive the fantasy. Because we had somehow just created the most perfect moment of attraction and indulgence to ever achieve reality, and to do anything other than let it exist would be to spoil it.

Being thoroughly visceral I have fully embraced the prospect and the perks of a relationship without an ounce of commitment or intimacy. Just a healthy dose of passion.