Thursday, August 19, 2010
The Drunkest Night of My Life
Thanks again, Sarah Perrich, for inadvertently reminding me of something to write about and getting me out of my blog drought.
After reading some of Sarah's travel misadventures at http://wasconstantinople.blogspot.com/, I was reminded of one of the rowdiest nights I had abroad.
Billy and I went backpacking across Europe in the fall of 2004. We made it from England to Holland to Switzerland to Austria to Hungary to Czech Republic to Germany and back in 3 weeks. We planned the trip so that we could be in Leiden, the town in the Netherlands where I studied abroad (she had D cups! BAZING!) the previous fall during their Independence Day festival.
Leiden's Independence Day festival starts on October 2nd and lasts three to four days. They set up carnival rides, there are food vendors and bands on every street corner and in every bar, and as far as the eye can see, there are kegs and kegs and kegs of Heineken. Sweet, delicious Heineken. Walking home early one morning on October 4th, I literally waded the 1 mile walk, shin deep through disposable plastic beer cups. Needless to say, the town goes a little nuts for a few days and everyone seems to have a good time (especially the old man with an immense beard who passed me on that walk home who had either gotten an early start or a really late finish to the festivities for the day, slopping Heineken down his beard at 7:30 in the morning).
The night this story takes place began with Billy and I having dinner with the Greeks at my friend Lizetta's house in Leiden. We met some Finnish girls and I reunited with my Peruvian friend Sergio which was a good thing, because this story should really be called, "The Night Sergio Saved My Life."
We ate good food, drank cheap wine and homemade Ouzo (a Greek liquor which is rarely consumed when not part of a dare) before we hit the town. We met up with friends along the way as hopped from spot to spot around the town. Life was grand, if a little wobbly.
At 1 am in Leiden, bars are not allowed to let more people in. Once you're there you can stay as long as you like, or until they kick you out, but there is no set closing time. So our group decided to camp out at a bar called Odessa. It's a narrow bar but long and they have a deck that sits on a canal. It is at this point that I must discuss canals. Dutch canals are very slow moving rivers. The river in question at this point, is the Rhine River, which in Leiden is a stinky, stagnant canal. Throw in a few hundred thousand people drinking and peeing into the canal... you get the picture.
Odessa had that night decided on a beach theme and put sand on the floor of the entire bar which was fun, at first. Entering the bar, I should have been headed for bed, but my friend Shirley was there and she's a very attractive South African and I was feeling more and more handsome as the night went on so I stayed, not knowing that Shirley could drink me under the table, which she promptly did.
Billy went off to the deck out back to flirt with one of the Finnish girls when I hit my wall. You know that point in the night when you'd been feeling happy-go-lucky and even if you're slurry and stumbly, you're still having a good time? Then all that comes crashing down at once and you feel like you've been beaten with a tire iron for an hour or two? Yeah, that happened. I abandoned my quest for Shirley and went to find Sergio, which was not an easy task in a crowded bar with a gut full of Ouzo and Heineken. Sergio was quite the lothario, and my pleas for help were imposing on his quest, but he took up his "bro's before ho's" duties and decided to help me.
It was at this point in the story that a sopping wet Billy walked up to me at the front of the bar and tried to inform me that he had fallen into the canal (see above). His soaking wet frame was draped over the Finnish gal and everyone was laughing and pointing at him. My mind, however could not see through the alcohol to the meaning of all of this and I immediately turned back to an obviously stunned Sergio and said, "Sergio. Bed." These would be the only two words I would be able to muster for the rest of the evening. "Sergio. Bed."
Billy and the Finnish girl left me in Sergio's capable hands. Sergio was going to stash me in his dorm room and go out again, which was fine by by me, but somehow he had lost his dorm key in the sand that covered the bar floor. "Sergio. Bed." I struggled to stand. I struggled to sit. I knew I couldn't lay on the floor. "Sergio. Bed." I staggered and wavered and bumped into people. "Sergio. Bed."
Sergio was not happy. Not only could he not get into his own room, he had me to deal with and I couldn't understand why he couldn't get into his room without a key. "Sergio. Bed." The last thing I remember was being outside the bar with Sergio on the phone, telling someone he had this guy with him who was about to die. "Sergio. Bed."
I woke up the next morning without opening my eyes. I took a quick inventory and was pretty sure that most of my body parts were still attached. I noted that I was on a mattress and I had a pillow. I peeled one eye open. I was in a room I'd never been in before. About 6 feet away a Dutch girl I'd never seen before was lying on her own mattress. I saw no one I knew. Nothing was familiar. She woke up as if she expected me to be there and said "good morning" in English. My adrenaline started to kick in. I got up and checked for my belongings which were mostly still in my pockets. I had no idea what to say or do, so I simply said, "I'm sorry. I have no idea who you are or how I got here, but thank you, a million times thank you, and I'm sorry," and I bolted for the door.
The door led me to some strange courtyard that I had never been in before. I was confused and panicked and my brain was still struggling from what I'd done to it the night before. I began to sweat. I found a very tall gate and opened it to find that I was 3 doors up from Odessa. The street musicians were setting up for the next days festivities, and one guy with an elaborate music box began playing "Send in the Clowns." I dropped to the sidewalk, half out of relief from knowing where I was and half from the irony of hearing THAT song at THAT moment in my life, and began laughing hysterically.
I went to the house where the Finnish girls where staying to find Billy. I knocked on the door and was greeted by an Australian guy. "Is Billy here? American guy?"
"To be honest mate, I haven't got a fucking clue. I don't even know whose house this is." Billy stirred from the back of the living room, got his clothes (now clean) and came back to the place we were staying.
I took a much needed shower and as I was doing so, I slipped, did a faceplant on the front of the tub and broke off half of my front tooth.
My lips to yours.