Sunday, January 27, 2013

Orange Juice Heaven

They say ‘You are what you eat’ and if that’s truly the case then I’m a crisp sandwich. You see packed lunches have been as much a part of my near 20 years of schooling as books have. My earliest memories of packed lunches were on field trips. Remember the class trips in school when you had to bring a double-lunch? Gosh you’d be stuffed. I got sick into my jumper coming back from Mosney one year. I figured it’d be more polite to get sick into that than the girl sat next to me. People kept asking me the whole way back to Kimmage Manor why I did it, why did I ruin my jumper. They wanted the girl puked on, evil bastards.

Speaking of girls. In an amazing turn of events last year, my reliable carton of Sqeez doubled as a cross-journalism-classroom-flirtation-mega-prop in which I captured the heart of a (possibly) Belgian girl. As I pierced a hole through film then carton, I knew it was on. Her eyes glazed over and she paused in mesmerisation. Suddenly and without warning she snapped out of her daze and reached into her schoolbag in a love scene taken straight from the script of a Deep Riverrock ad. And there it was a two litre carton of Sqeez, which she drank with both considerable ease and allure. My pen dropped, still wet from my mouth. It was a match made in orange juice heaven.

It’s also a unique gambit to a best man’s speech. Speaking of weddings don’t they always seem to involve cake? Now cake is a dish which is usually served casually. That is, its rarely part of a sit-down meal. “Will ya have a bit of cake?” is a favourite line among many a pastry giver. With two arms full of saucers you feel obliged to help the lady out. So you accept it grudgingly, you might even take a bite to please the host. Mouthful of Heineken and double chocolate fudge: sure isn’t that what were all after?

But it’s not over there. Oh no. You have now become a cake eater and they won’t relent until you burst. “Will ya have another bit of cake, there’s a load left?” and before you can begin to answer there’s another plate in front of you. Their eyes light up when they see you- the cake givers. People who wouldn’t dare speak to you all night suddenly approach you like you’re their long lost brother. If they associate your face with cake, that’s it.

Just a closing thought on food-offerings-politeness. It’s important to leave 1/8th of your food if somebody makes you a meal. An empty plate is a great insult to somebody’s generosity. How are they supposed to know if they gave you enough? Although it’s a thin line you walk, anything less than 2/3rd’s of an empty plate and you hated the meal. “Ah you probably don’t like sausage and chips?” is one such jab you may get.

They also say ‘the quickest way to a girl’s heart is through her tummy’ and filling it with alcohol certainly seems to do the trick. For me it’s been somewhat of a role reversal 20 years on except the girls aren’t getting sick in jumpers. Part of me wishes I took the chance to get sick on that girl while the offer was on the table and it was still deemed acceptable. If nothing else it was a certain crowd pleaser. I can still hear the mixture of laughs and gasps – somewhere in my imagination.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Disko Bar

Trudging down the tight, windy staircase surrounded by metal walls I should have known this was no ordinary nightclub. The entrance was suspicious too, a tall wooden door like that of a haunted house.

Never a man to shy away from subtle curiosity, I had to pop in for a look.

Located on the main thorough-fair of Latvia's capital city, you would have thought it was a reputable spot. Only a select few bars are open at 1am and fresh from poker and NFL punting success I was in no mood to go home. The Disko bar was the perfect night-cap for me.

Upon entry I was treated to an open-armed welcome and a cry of "Come in!' by the friendly barman. Gosh there was hardly anybody in the place yet he could still muster a smile.
The barman proceeded to wax lyrical about the range of drinks he had to offer before I cut him short and plumed for a bottle of the local beer.

Not long into my second bottle, we were greeted by the arrival of a pair of local stunners who stumbled down the stairs full of giggles. Hesitant by the lack of people inside they almost turned around but alas gentle persuasion remains a man's best friend and it wasn't long before the two were perched alongside the drunken Irishman and his impossibly good humour.

"Drink for the girls?" suggested the bar-keep. It was like he had read my mind.

Sambuca x 4 and vodka cocktails was the order of the day and before too long we were all up on the dance floor raising the roof and running the show.

I was drunk and there was no escaping it.

It had all the makings of the Eastern European party you would never forget. Beautiful women are so plentiful in Latvia that they have to hang out somewhere. Tonight they'd be partying with me. It was a story which no one would believe but I didn't care. I was too high on life and vodka cocktails.

"The bill, Sir?" Says the friendly barman just as the DJ lowers the tempo of what had been a rocking set.

€218.40 is a figure that's difficult to compute no matter how drunk you are. It would also prove hard to forget as I'd be reading it 5 times on my bank statement the following morning.

Let the disko-bar-beverage-buyer beware.

Monday, January 07, 2013

The uninvited guest

It’s not something you do when you’re sober is it – walk around the side of a house and look underneath the half shut blinds. It seems there’s nothing quite as hypnotic as the sound of guitars blasting and drunkards whaling when you’re walking home from a night out. It’s like a magnet which draws you in – regardless of gates and vehicles for obstacles. I have no doubt what I would have done had I been caught too. I would have run for the hills like a burglar who’d got the lot.

But the allure of the late night party is all encompassing. You convince yourself that you knew their cousin or you’re friends with the man that put in their alarm. The common ground is endless once the house owner gives you a fair trial. Lenient owners will often agree with you. ‘Ah you know Kevin who put in the alarm? Marie he knows Kevin who put in the alarm. Get him a can of Carlsburg there.’

I’ve had some incredibly ridiculous conversations at these sorts of parties which never seem to happen under normal conditions. Like 1990s formula 1 racing, Harvey Keitel films or whether or not David Connolly played up front for Wolves with Robbie Keane. There’s always a trivia buff at these gatherings it seems - whose useless knowledge is otherwise redundant normally. Often, when you play back the arguments which take place you realise it was him that had brought up the Jos Verstappen pit-stop fire in 1994 so he probably did know what team he was driving for at the time.

We all have guilty pleasures like eating Liga or making 100s of prank calls but there’s something about the late night party which makes it both the greatest and most illustrious guilty pleasure of them all for me.

There have been quite a few shindigs which I’ve rambled across whilst plastered and I have often wondered what the etiquette is. At the time I’m always convinced ‘it’s what they would have wanted’ when I loiter outside a house for hours. I tell myself if I was hosting a party I’d want nothing more than passing drunken traffic calling in for a chat and a free drink.

But it’s not really what they want is it? In the cold light of day I now know it’s not ‘what they would have wanted’ and if anything I should be reported.