Soundtrack: "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors
16 March, 2002 There are many advantages in living with a mixture of Aussie, Kiwi, Canadian, and Saffie backpackers. No one expects you to have a lot of money, going a week or two without shaving, showering, or even changing your clothes doesn't get you quite the social stigma that it might on the outside world, and there's always plenty of interesting new slang to pick up. But perhaps the best part about living with these people is that most of them can handle their alcohol.
While Aussies and Kiwis especially may drink huge amounts of alcohol, for the most part, they're nice drunks who only occasionally think that they need to headbutt you or take a flying leap at you for no apparent reason. For my first four months there, the only real problem I ever saw involving an Aussie and alcohol was Roy, an Aussie working construction who simply couldn't hold his alcohol, quite literally. Roy managed to pass out in reception one evening and piss himself (and the chair he was in and the floor underneath him) within the space of about ten minutes.
Piss problems aside, the only serious incident involving an angry drunk that I witnessed came at the beginning of March. John, an extremely wealthy Canadian entered the room. Earlier in the day he'd been asking if someone could tell him where the dark seedy areas of Edinburgh could be found. The area around Leith Walk wasn't dodgy enough for him. No one asked him why he wanted to go there, but in retrospect, it seems likely that he found the place.
John is drunk, at the very least. Maybe he found the underbelly of Edinburgh, maybe he didn't. Whatever happened though, John is not in a very good mood. Earlier in the evening, he broke up with his girlfriend over the phone, ostensibly, I later learn, because he claims to be dying from cancer and "doesn't want to put her through the pain of watching me die."
All this may be able to explain why he might be in a bad mood, but it sure as hell doesn't condone how he deals with this bad mood. He doesn't really seem to deal with stress all that well.
With a quick movement of the arm and a flick of the wrist that is as impressive to me as it is frightening, John buries a knife in the table between a can of Carlsberg and a bottle of Glenmorangie. Impressive, since the knife was in his pocket a scant second earlier, frightening, because we're sitting at the table drinking from those cans and bottles.
Georgie and Steve, coming down of a nice high themselves courtesy of the Faithless concert they just got back from seeing in Glasgow, look distinctly uncomfortable, something that John exacerbates by exclaiming, "I want to fucking kill someone!" not elaborating if it is a single person he wants to kill or just anybody. Everyone in the room freezes momentarily. Appropriately, "Riders on the Storm" plays on the jukebox.
So I do the only thing I can think of; pick up the knife and start admiring it, asking him about it without asking him what he wants to do with it, incidentally keeping it in my hands out of his reach. After awhile, I slide it back to him and offhandedly ask him to put it away, as his actions have made me kind of nervous. Thankfully, he does.
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