One Last Quiz Night, and a Flight Away From Home
Soundtrack: The threnody of bagpipers trying to practice "quietly" over the sound of jet engines.
1 April, 2002
April Fool's Day pretty much lived up to its name; as my final Monday--and therefore my final Quiz Night--in Edinburgh, I got foolishly drunk in front of a huge crowd of people that included my parents. But it was as it should be. It was, after all, my goodbye party, and I've often said that goodbye parties will be the death of me. After a number of possibily fatal goodbye parties (Sarah's, Mick's, Ylva's, and Nick's spring to mind), it is appropriate that my own goodbye party should do its damndest to put an end to me.
It's also appropriate that it should be a Quiz Night as well, one of the things that helped define me to those at the hostel in Edinburgh. The hostel showed up in force, forming a full third of the nine teams competing, and making up over half of the crowd. And all my regular teams were there as well; I'd gotten so that I was drawing about twice as many non-hostel people to Quiz Night as Carlo had, and I could always count on three or four regular teams to viciously fight over first place. It'd been a good job, and I think I'd done it well.
However, the teams from the hostel and my regular teams weren't the only people in the crowd. My parents also decided to make an appearance and compete in the Quiz themselves, which was more than a little imposing. However, leave it to the alcohol to calm me down and relax me; by the time the game was through its first round, I was back in normal shape, swearing, drinking a pint per round, making fun of the team's answers, and saying what had become my trademark phrase at the end of the round: "Bring up your sheets to me. I'll be at the bar."
Still, I didn't show very good judgement. When Kelly came up to buy me a shot of absinthe (to pay me back for the shot I'd bought her and Melissa the week before--a commitment I'd also made while drunk), I should have turned her down. But as it was, I started the evening with a shot of absinthe, and then continued to drink my usual pints during the Quiz.
I knew I was in trouble when Georgie interrupted me during when I was giving the answers for the last round, to present me with a half-yard glass of beer, which they insisted I finish before announcing the winners. I drank the half-yard as fast as possible, with Georgie turning the glass so it went down smoothly, finished giving the answers, and declared the winner as fast as possible. I finish the quiz as fast as possible so my parents would leave the bar before the beer hit.
I was in luck, and they left. I was waving goodbye to them when a shot was pushed into my hand. Carlo and his winning team were presenting me with one of their shots of tequila; I tried to get away after the first, but they decided a second one was in order as well. Then, one of the regular teams, excited about scoring their highest score ever (but placing last in the Quiz, like always), handed me another beer immediately after that. I was fucked. There was no way to escape; they liked me, they wanted to reward me, they had money and the friendliness of people who'd been drinking heavily already--I was doomed. So I settled in to enjoy it. Another shot of absinthe was pushed into my hand.
It is at this point in the evening that the night becomes very hazy. We stayed until the end of the evening. I walked from table to table, talking to everyone who knew me (I didn't know very many names, but since I'd introduced myself at the beginning of every Quiz Night, everybody knew me), and trying to nurse my pint. We stayed until the Globe closed; my last Quiz Night had come to a close.
The rest of the evening is spotty; like a poorly edited film, I only have the occasional random scene in my mind. I do know a couple things: I survived the evening, I wasn't hungover the next morning, and I didn't throw up. Most of the rest I have to trust the others on. I do remember going into the toilet just outside of reception at the hostel and curling up on the bench next to the showers. Kelly came in to tell me she'd bought me a beer, and I told her I'd be out in a minute. That's my last real memory of the evening.
I'm told that they eventually gave up on me actually joining them, and then just tried to get me to go to bed. I got up from the bench, and started to walk towards where I thought my room was. I'd made it a flight down the stairs before Georgie caught me and prevented me from walking straight out of the hostel into the night. And apparently I made it to bed.
Kind of, that is.
I obviously made it down to my room, but apparently I had trouble making it to my bed once in the room. Richard told me the next morning that I woke him up by sitting right next to him on his bed (rather ironic for me to sit on Richard's bed, only a couple weeks after he tried to get into Dai's bed; this is probably why he didn't make a big deal of it or tell many people about it), and he had to tell me to go on to my own. That last six feet must have been difficult for me.
I woke up around 6am, face down on top of my covers, diagonal in the bed, with my feet hanging off towards the door and the top of my head right above my alarm clock by the wall. I was in a t-shirt, my underwear, and my slippers. Somehow I hadn't made it into the sweatpants I normally slept in, but I'd managed to get my slippers on.
I must have then put on my sweatpants--they were on when I woke up the next time--but I don't remember doing so. I was woken at 10:45 by Nathan; my parents were on the phone for me, angry as hell. I was late for our train to Glasgow, and had to rush out the door (getting properly dressed, of course) to meet them. At first I was surprised to find I was not hungover. Then I started running to the train station, and found that I was, unsurprisingly, still a bit drunk.
After a surprisingly good day in Glasgow (considering my condition and the effort of hiding it from my parents) and an evening spent packing, I left Edinburgh.
I'd lived there for less than six months, and grown to love the city more than anywhere else I've ever lived.
I almost wanted it to be an ugly day for my last day to make it easier to say goodbye. But the weather itself contributed to the conspiracy to torture me; my last morning was one of the most beautiful I'd seen so far. The grass was starting to turn green, there was a light mist hanging around Edinburgh Castle that was just beginning to burn off from the sun. I felt like crying.
And then we walked into a bad movie: at the airport, boarding our plane, we discovered that most of our fellow passengers were kilted bagpipers, heading for New York City for a massive drum and bagpiping festival. As I listened to the cacophany of some of the pipers practice (using only the pipes to be quieter, presumably so as not to bother the rest of the passengers, for all the good that did), I thought, "As if New York hasn't been through enough in the last six months as it is."
My dour mood changed, when one of the pipers two seats ahead of me began playing a haunting and beautiful melody the others stopped to listen to.
I love Scotland.
And I hate goodbyes.
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