Monday, May 2, 2011

Swim until you can’t see land, are you a man or are you a bag of sand?

Let me explain, please.
So there we were. Tuesday night had morphed to Wednesday morning and the madness that had previously littered the night gave way to some relative peace and quiet. Lightning was flashing, and the thunder followed after it, albeit with the urgency of a three-toed sloth. We sat at a wooden table, waiting for the electricity in the air to momentarily turn the sky blue again. I lit up a cigar, pissed out my last beer and began shooting the shit with Sam and Ollie. The lightning never came, but a few spots of rain did. And so did a few more. We denied that it was anything severe, and would probably pass or drizzle us lightly, but before we knew it, the storm that had taken so long to echo back to us, had now made its presence extremely obvious.

It was torrential - the kind of rain you get before summer. It's like it saves itself up all day and cries it all out for 30 minutes, before moving back another sunny day. Ollie, Sam and I were given two options. Caught out by the speed of the downpour, we could either run back to my dorm, up a hill and get drenched for 30 seconds or take refuge under the tiny table we were sat it. No words were said, and before we knew it, we were doing our best to scramble between the seats and take shelter, cigar and all.

For its effectiveness in keeping dry, hiding under three separated planks of woods at the bottom of the hill is much like taking refuge from the sun by hiding under a giant magnifying glass. Our arses got soaked as the water rolled down from the top of the gradient, while the make-shift roof was like a sieve on the top, and completely useless on the side. It protected the cigar, but when we ran through the dying rain to find some indoor haven from the rain, we were well and truly soaked.

But really, for three grown men to hide from a storm under a bench really needs a bit more explaining, so please, let me indulge you, because it had been weeks in the making.

My workload was getting the better of me, but not going out was rarely an option. This life is not a dress rehearsal, there are 24 hours in a day, but only so many cliches that can be used here. By the time I scrambled out from under the table, it felt like I'd spent more time in the bars than my own room. There was the night Raoul Moat and Gazza sang karaoke, the one where I told off some Massachusetts fan boy about wearing sporting gear and a crooked baseball out at night when he's an adult - he took it off. There was the night Dicky Peach and I were the only ones allowed to drink at Northampton's tunnel bar because no one else had their passports - we kept things classy, while Ollie, Max and Alex had to wait in the drizzle at a bus stop. There were sneaky nights out at The Spoke, and the time The Pub pissed off enough people by scrutinising legal driver's licences.

It all led to Tuesday though. It was typical, pints of shocktop, bits of karaoke and a security team at Stacker's that herded people in like cattle. The place was rammed, and after having a few, Sam and I tried to do our typical ninja-esque exit and head for The Spoke. It was foiled though, the new boy at the door wouldn't let us in without our passports so I began to hulk out with anger. Ollie received most of the my words that were tinged with a dash of vitriol. Everyone began leaving, but Max had left his card behind and was forced to deal with me and my rage after everyone else headed for home. Though he was allowed to close his tab, the line at Stacker's was too big to return, so we opted for McMuprhy's, and though it was busier, we walked straight in, without even needing to reach for any identification.

I snuck in a Guiness, walked back with Max and some friends along the way and headed to Dicky Peach and Alex's. There, drunk and stupid I partook and lost games of danger-can (on each syllable, bang a can twice on a hard object and finally on your head, whoever breaks it loses). I also lit one of Ollie's shoes on fire while he was wearing it. That wasn't enough though, the pushbike Ria stole in the first semester had not seen much life lately. So Ollie, Sam and myself did our best to ride it through the hall, the foyer and down hill despite the tyres were deflated and there was no drive from the pedals.

We pushed ourselves down the hill, and eventually settled it on the bike rack outside my building. It was 3AMish, and when we decided it looked out of place in the rack, we opted to try to send it up a tree. Ollie, whose arms are bigger than those of Sam and I combined, picked up the bike, working it back and forth before finally letting go...only for it to hit the tree and sink to the ground. Who cares, the lightning had just started.

And so began the eventual moments that resulted in the three of us hiding under a table. And to think, that wasn't even the worst night of the week.
The Great wet elf
That night was reserved for Thursday. The Brits and certain representatives of the commonwealth gathered at Ollie's after a night out at the bars to watch the Royal Wedding. Becs, was already passing out all over the room. Dicky Peach arrived hammered, but brought with him a giant bag of beers. With each beer that entered his body, his mind's control of it failed. He dangercanned a beer at the wrong angle, attacking his forehead with the blunt end, rather than the compartively softer side of the vessel. One can demonstrated excellent resilience, until it reached Dicky Peach and upon contact with his head literally sheered itself in half. The contents exploded all over him, though he tried to suck up whatever was left. It was one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen, he cut a can in half with his head.

The game continued, and at one point it was revealed a can was covered in blood. Peach's hipster fringe had hid his wounds, and poetically, the next fatigued and battle-weary can exploded for him as well - no one wanted to drink that bloody can of PBR. I left the party early, citing a 9AM class that I eventually failed to make. In my absence, the party continued, and descended into scenes Caligula would be proud of. Ollie was reprimanded by the campus' environmental staff for throwing innumerable cans out of his window. Sam and Bella had a race to see who could vomit first, with Sam winning, but Bella being more prolific. When the whole husband and wife shebang happened, Ollie doused Dicky Peach in champagne like a Formula One driver, and when the pressure dropped, poured the rest on him. I'd missed a party, but avoided a trainwreck.
PBR can shaped wound

I was writing this post up last night when word came through that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Implored by Max and Sam I went to South West to witness what was happening there. It made up yesterday's post, but I thought I'd share a few more thoughts about the whole event below.

Like last night, my opinion on what happened in the last 24 hours does not hold a lot of weight. Everybody who died on September 11 was somebody's darling, and I'm sure there is a unique and equally painful story for each American to tell about the day. I have my own memories and experiences from the event, but when you see your countrymen killed on the soil you share with them, then your opinion is going to be vastly different to mine and it's something I have to acknowledge while I'm here.

However, when it came to celebrating the death of one man - even with blood on his hands, I subscribe to the views of one particularly great American. Martin Luther King Jr said "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy". It's understandable that people were looking to let off some steam - 10 years, thousands of lives and trillions of dollars is extremely hard to reconcile, and again my position as Australian can hardly fathom how most people must feel.

I just believe if there is something to celebrate, it's not the death of one bearded individual in his Pakistan hideout, it's actually something in every American's backyard. The new World Trade Centre is a beautiful building that is growing by a floor each week. It's not the bullet wound to an enemy that should define this moment, that should be left to the totem of resilience that will dominate New York's skyline again. It characterises why this place is fantastic, and what it means to not give up. In reality there are no good guys and bad guys, the world is far too complex for such a narrative to exist. The war won't end with one evil man's death, but as an outsider I see a lot victory in what is happening in lower Manhattan every day, and if people were to celebrate that each night, then I would happily join them.

*The MLK quote is fake, but I saw Sonic Youth use it on twitter and went with it. Oops. At least we still have Daydream Nation.

*** Song
Andrew WK - She is Beautiful
Just listen to it. The man has been overdosing on positivity for a decade and it's absolutely amazing.

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