28Jan2013

The One Where I Try to Outdrink the Special Forces

Flaming shot by Machadox.

As the title might suggest, this post is really not for readers of a sensitive disposition. Why not try some lovely pictures of beautiful central Laos, the droll tale of how I got my Indonesian driving license, or, of course, the one where I try to navigate Ancient Egypt using only Tripadvisor?


Mr Darcy, it transpires, is out with the lads.

They are good lads, apparently. And British! Yay!

In my limited acquaintance with the soldiery – the only man who ever put up with me for more than about fifteen minutes while not separated by an entire ocean had served in Israeli Special Forces – this means FUN, with a capital ‘F’, ‘U’ and ‘N’.

Mystifyingly, at least to me, who has both male and female friends, including several at least one heterosexual male friends I’ve managed never to accidentally sleep with – what can I say?! These things happen! – he appears to see being out with the lads as an alternative to being out with me.

Night out with the soldiery = FUN. Waiting in for a theoretical booty call from someone who has completed a night out with the soldiery = NO FUN AT ALL.

Fuck that for a game of soldiers, I think, rather appositely, as I put Zac to bed tell Zac I’ll be out late with Mr Darcy and may not be back when he wakes up but will take him out for waffles as agreed, put my number in my Skype so that he can call me if he needs to, smear some more foundation over the worst of the eyebags, scars and lines, and get him to agree to be asleep by midnight.

The screenplay I am writing in my head has descended from mid-90s romcom into The Hangover Part 97, working title Scraping the Bottom of the Franchise Barrel in Kathmandu.

Even though I am, as should be clear, precisely the type of woman for whom He’s Just Not That Into You was written, it’s beginning to very, very slowly dawn on me, as I skip past the hatchet-faced man and his death ray stare with the breezy, carefree attitude of someone just popping out to sniff the night air and in no way whatsoever abandoning their child to the tender mercies of that wonderful babysitter, Skype chat, that Mr Darcy maybe really isn’t that into me.

But that’s OK!

He’s firmly on my list, provisionally entitled “Wow I Must Have Been Good In Bed or Something” of ludicrously hawt men that for whatever bizarre reason wanted to have sex with me, that I will review, as previously outlined, shortly before dying some ghastly, solitary, ancient spinster death or possibly being burnt as a witch.

And, he’s clearly up for seconds. So, all good!

What is not so good, however, is that the screenplay I am writing in my head has descended from mid-90s romcom into The Hangover Part 97, working title Scraping the Bottom of the Franchise Barrel in Kathmandu.

The White Knight, meanwhile, who, being older, is more au fait with the concept of using a telephone for talking to people rather than texting them, sorts me out with directions to the promisingly named Faces, Kathmandu, then explains the directions to my taxi driver in Nepali, then comes out and finds me and pays the taxi driver for a journey which, it will transpire, is approximately 60 seconds’ stagger from my hotel.

It’s actually really nice to see him, a reliably friendly face in what is, after all, a strange town. He’s such a nice guy, I think, in my Negroni-mellowed state. Such a shame I don’t fancy him.

Single ladies! Are you in possession of a pulse, the requisite number of limbs and a willingness to spread them? If so, it would be difficult not to get laid in Faces, Kathmandu.

Some of the British lads, it transpires, are Special Forces!

They’re being terribly subtle about it, only casually dropping the smallest references to Hereford, or whatever, but the rest of my compatriots do rather give the game away by identifying themselves humbly as “only regular army”.

And there are Gurkhas! Loads of evil, hilarious, absolutely polite and charming Gurkhas! Excellent!

In fact, about 85% of the clientele of Faces appears to be Gurkhas, with the rest made up of British Army.

Single ladies! Are you in possession of a pulse, the requisite number of limbs and a willingness to spread them? If so, it would be difficult not to get laid in Faces, Kathmandu.

“Are we good?” inquires Mr Darcy romantically as I arrive, embracing me.

He has his impressive disco tits out for the occasion, but looks even hawter (good) and younger (less good) while dressed for the bright lights and big city sophistication of Faces as opposed to, ya know, climbing mountains and shit.

“Yeah,” I say. “I suppose so.”

Zac’s great-great-uncle, a man I used to call my Evil Twin, was in a predecessor to the SAS, Jedburgh, and, despite the fact that he was well over 70 when Zac’s arrival introduced us, our sessions usually ended with him pouring me bodily into a taxi.

It appears I am expected to keep up with the boys’ alcohol consumption.

Fuck it, I think. In for a penny, in for a pound. I’ve been a drinks journalist, on and off, for almost twenty years, hanging out with West End bartenders for rather longer than that, and these guys have been drinking since 5, while I’ve only had a token three Negronis, and that with a full meal.

I’ll be fine!

Admittedly, my history in keeping up with the Special Forces while drinking is rather chequered.

Zac’s great-great-uncle, a man I used to call my Evil Twin, was in a predecessor to the SAS, Jedburgh, and, despite the fact that he was well over 70 when Zac’s arrival introduced us, our sessions usually ended with him pouring me bodily into a taxi.

My selective memory, of course, recalls only the couple of instances, when the poor guy was 86 and secretly sick with the cancer that would kill him, that I had to return the favour. Hey-ho.

Gurkhas, I think, dismissively. Pshaw! Gurkhas will be fine!

I’m taller than most of them, heavier than some of them, they’ve been tying one on for the last five hours and I can reliably outdrink local men in most South-East Asian countries, and South Asians are famously lightweights.

Oh!

Shooters.

Oh Jesus!

Flaming shooters.

It’s been at least a decade since I consumed a flaming shooter and even then it wasn’t by choice.

I explain, patiently, and then I write it down for him. “We don’t have that,” he says, flatly. This puts me in quite a childish fit of bad temper. “OK,” I say. “Gin and tonic, please.”

I’m at the bar with the White Knight. It looks very promising, initially. White, backlit, every bottle of spirits in its own little cubbyhole – with my bar reviewer hat on, I try to remember which turn-of-the-century London bar brought this trend to the UK. Was it Sketch?

Yay! Negronis!

“Do you have a Negroni?” I ask, spurning the cocktail list as it includes flaming shooters and is therefore likely to be short on the classic cocktails and long on things with Midori in.

“What?” says the guy.

I explain, patiently, and then I write it down for him

“We don’t have that,” he says, flatly.

This puts me into quite a childish fit of bad temper. “OK,” I say. “Gin and tonic, please.”

The White Knight is buying, for some ridiculous reason, given he’s already got a drink and I only just got here.

“Are you not having a cocktail?” he says.

“Not from here,” I say, petulantly. “They haven’t got the one I want. And if they haven’t got that, I’m having a gin and tonic, because they clearly don’t know about cocktails.”

“I’m having a Mojito,” he says. “Want to try it?”

“No,” I say, churlishly. “I can tell just by looking at it that they’ve made it wrong. What you need to do,” I say, going into full-on drinks bore mode since I’ve just maybe, just maybe found someone who might be interested in this shit for the first time, well, since I was bar reviewing in Beirut, I guess. “You’re supposed just to bruise the mint, because otherwise it goes bitter. And they’ve just bashed the shit out of it, if they didn’t freeze it first, which from the colour…”

The White Knight does a good impression of being interested in this, which is nice of him.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DRINK?” I bellow, thinking, Jesus, the music’s not that loud. How drunk IS this man? “WHAT ARE YOU DRINKING?” “Girls don’t buy drinks,” he says.

Mr Darcy appears at the bar as I’m getting another gin and tonic. Even with the three Negronis and the shooters I have some catching up to do.

“Want a drink?” I say.

He looks at me as if I’ve just farted.

“What?” he says.

“WHAT.DO.YOU.WANT.TO.DRINK?” I bellow, thinking, Jesus, the music’s not that loud. How drunk IS this man? “WHAT ARE YOU DRINKING?”

“Girls don’t buy drinks,” he says.

“WHAT?!” I say, looking at him as though he’s just followed through.

“Girls don’t buy drinks,” he says.

“Oh,” I say, and a penny drops. In my core group of friends, drinks buying happens on a basis of rounds, or tab-splitting, with a general understanding that those who have money at any one point will cover those who don’t (I am slipping rapidly from the former category to the latter, but that’s improvidence, not gender.)

“Oh,” I say again. “Ah! And girls don’t text guys saying, ‘Right. How about this time and this place?’”

He laughs. He’s actually, bless his cotton socks, a bright and funny guy. “No,” he says. “Girls REALLY don’t do that.”

More shooters? Oh Jesus, no.

Some unsightly adolescent snogging in the general bar area and he pisses off to join the lads.

“You know,” he says, meditatively. “Apart from those two girls there, who live with me, you’re the only woman in here who isn’t a prostitute.” I look around. He is, of course, right.

One of the British guys, a fellow 90s raver who has been digging out his old gay dancing moves for my edification, and is my kind of age, although being a soldier who has yet to retire, he’s obviously somewhat younger (GOD I’M OLD!), is also at the bar. I buy him a beer.

“That’s the first time a girl has ever bought me a drink,” he says.

“You’re taking the piss,” I say.

“No,” he says. “I’m serious. That’s the first time a girl has ever bought me a drink.”

One small step, I figure, for womankind. Or something.

“You ARE a feminist, aren’t you?” he says, in tones of sorrow, rather than anger.

“Well,” I bluster. Then I look around Faces, Kathmandu. Yep, in this context, I’m somewhere between Julie Bindel and Andrea Dworkin on the “All Men Are Rapists” rad fem scale. “Yeah, I guess I am a feminist,” I say. “A bit.”

“Yeah,” he says. “Well, the woman thing really isn’t all that good here, you know.”

“I know!” I say. “Every time I read the Kathmandu Post some other poor girl has been burned to death. And don’t get me started on child marriage.”

“You know,” he says, meditatively. “Apart from those two girls there, who live with me, you’re the only woman in here who isn’t a prostitute.”

I look around. He is, of course, right.

There are four or five Nepali girls in there, with the watchful eyes and corner position of working girls on the lookout for a score, plus the overly pale face powder, overly red lips and moderately-revealing nylon fashions that are the hallmark of mid-priced hookers across South-East Asia, though of course we’re in South Asia. Then there’s me and his flatmates. And, umm, that’s it.

Clearly under the erroneous twin impressions that I am insufficiently drunk, and that it would be a good idea to get me more drunk – this is, incidentally, a mistake that few people make twice – the White Knight is encouraging me to down a gin and tonic, watched by a crowd of chanting Gurkhas.

Clearly under the erroneous twin impressions that I am insufficiently drunk, and that it would be a good idea to get me more drunk – this is, incidentally, a mistake that few people make twice – the White Knight is encouraging me to down a gin and tonic, watched by a crowd of chanting Gurkhas.

Thanks to the ice it’s so cold that I shamefully let the side of British womanhood down by failing to complete the project even on the slow count the gents let me have.

Bugger. I’ve never tried to down a drink with ice in it in my life.

“Never mind,” a Gurkha says supportively. “You did alright.”

Damn, damn, damn.

The SAS men, in the interim, are still annoyingly upright.

As, for that matter, are all the bloody Gurkhas. I’m beginning to wonder whether the Bedouin might not have been a better comparison than the various South-East Asian gentlemen I have floored in my time.

Anywise, I’m enjoying chatting to the White Knight, who combines the quality of absolute invisibility until he wants you to notice him with an interesting life and an ability to chat about Arabic grammar without becoming visibly bored.

Also, he’s taller than Mr Darcy. Shame I don’t fancy him, really.

In a move drawn from the finest 1950s etiquette manuals, I abandon the White Knight mid-sentence, hurl myself bodily across the dancefloor and twixt the hooker and Mr Darcy, and virtually bodycheck him. This subtle approach works wonders.

And — woah! — the prettiest of the hookers is getting perilously close to Mr Darcy on the dancefloor. Bugger!

But for the pay-by-the-hour requirement, she is clearly prettier, younger, more petite and, in all ways, infinitely better suited to Mr Darcy than I, what with being a proper girl and all, and in no danger of doing anything so unladylike as wandering around the world with only a child by way of male escort, diving an undersea volcano, crossing a Himalayan high pass, paddling a boat up the Mekong, riding a motorbike 3000 miles across Indonesia, or, for that matter, buying a drink or even expressing an opinion, but still…

…Fuck that shit!

In a move drawn from the finest 1950s etiquette manuals, I abandon the White Knight mid-sentence, hurl myself bodily across the dancefloor and twixt the hooker and Mr Darcy, and virtually bodycheck him.

This subtle approach works wonders and soon we are stumbling around the dancefloor with my legs round his waist and engaging in the kind of activities not just at but actually on the bar that makes me a) bloody glad I put leggings over my tights and b) wondering what the fuck Moses power Mr Darcy has that we’re not actually been thrown out, or, at the very least, taken to one side and had a word with.

The hookers, I notice, are all more sober and better-behaved than me.

Professional requirement, I guess.

And, further, not bloody difficult.

“Right,” says Mr Darcy. “You’re looking after me.” I look at 80kg of extremely drunk, recalcitrant muscle and wonder how the fuck that is supposed to work, exactly. Am I going to carry him into a taxi if he passes out?

“Right,” says Mr Darcy. “You’re looking after me.”

I look at 80kg of extremely drunk, recalcitrant muscle and wonder how the fuck that is supposed to work, exactly.

Am I going to carry him into a taxi if he passes out? Persuade him to drink some water or eat whatever Kathmandu’s answer is to the late night kebab?

Gently suggest – bahahahahahaha! – that maybe he’s had enough now and he should switch to, perhaps, lemonade, or, maybe, shandy, or at least lager top?

Explain what the yak is doing in the trashed hotel room we will wake up in with someone mysteriously missing, enormous piles of cocaine on the mirrors and, quite possibly, a selection of mid-range Nepali hookers wanting their money, now, now, now, now, now!

Yep, that’ll be it.

For, unfortunately for all concerned, in the screenplay that I am writing in my head, I am now no longer one of the girls but one of the boys in the Hangover Part 97, Scraping the Franchise Barrel in Kathmandu.

I somehow neglect to recall that all these heroic feats of drinking relied on two things. The first? Sufficient quantities of Class A drugs to have an elephant, if not actually raving, at the very least twitchy.

I amble over to the SAS men, catch snatches of conversation about “pushups” and “fittest man in the British Army”, and think, fuck this for a game of soldiers, Gurkhas are LOTS more fun, not least because if they have those conversations, which they probably do, they have them in Nepali.

Oooh! I’m drunk enough to dance!

Excellent!

Ooh! And there’s the evil Gurkha with the piercings. I like him! He’s my friend!

Oh dear god! I am dancing to Justin Bieber in Faces, Kathmandu, and enjoying myself immensely.

But I’m not that drunk, I think, casting the misty eye of memory back over the escapades of my 90s heyday.

I somehow neglect to recall that all these heroic feats of drinking relied on two things. The first? Sufficient quantities of Class A drugs to have an elephant, if not raving, at the very least twitchy. The second, when said substances wore off? Male friends prepared to chuck a blanket over me/deposit me on the sofa/carry me bodily to a taxi, take the driver’s phone number and license plate, tell him where to take me and then telephone to confirm that I was home and he was elsewhere.

“Where do we go after this?” I ask. “This is it,” he says, darkly. “This shuts at 2. Faces is the latest club open in Kathmandu.” “You’re taking the piss!” I say.

The White Knight slings a beer in my general direction, and I practice my 90s raver moves with my 90s raver friend.

“Where do we go after this?” I ask.

“This is it,” he says, darkly. “This shuts at 2. It is the latest club open in Kathmandu.”

“You’re taking the piss!” I say.

“I’m not,” he says.

“Seriously?” I say. “2am? And that’s Kathmandu finished? On a Saturday?”

“Yes,” he says, sorrowfully. “I live here.”

Flaming shooters?! Oh god! Not again! I force the vile concoction, which has some pink stuff that tastes of Benolin in it, past my gag reflex and down in one.

An age-inappropriate (for me at least) PDA demonstrates that he is, at the very least, fulfilling what appear to be my three, umm, “dating” criteria at this stage in my life, being hot, drunk and not too picky.

“Why aren’t you talking to the White Knight,” Mr Darcy slurs romantically. “He really likes you. He fancies you.”

“What?” I say. “And you don’t?”

An age-inappropriate (for me at least) PDA demonstrates that he is, at the very least, fulfilling what appear to be my three, umm, “dating” criteria at this stage in my life, being hot, drunk and not too picky.

“But why don’t you go with the White Knight?” he says, during a pause in proceedings.

The last thing I need at this stage of the game is fucking confusion, Chrissakes.

I wonder whether it’s worth explaining that I really like the White Knight as a person but don’t fancy him and therefore there is only any point in sleeping with him if a relationship were on the cards, which, for any one of about ten million reasons, starting with the one that’s currently trying to pimp me out to him, it isn’t.

But for some strange reason there seems to be a timelag between my brain and my mouth.

“Threesome, yeah?” he slurs.

“NO!” I say, like Vera Lynn, only not. “Definitely not!”

I can absolutely guarantee that Menage with Two Commandos I Met Virtually On Bloody Everest FFS will make my list of “Sexual Opportunities I Must Have Been Mad to Pass Up”, along with That Thing Not in But on the Dead Sea and That Thing in the Swimming Pool at the Orgy.

I’m chatting to the White Knight again, who is doing a good impression of being interested in whatever random crap is coming out of my mouth, while trying to work out whether on earth they have discussed this prospective menage.

They must have done, surely?

I mean, they couldn’t not have done, right?

But it really doesn’t seem like they have. Not from the way the White Knight is interacting with me, although, now it’s been so delicately pointed out, he probably is interested in more than my sparkling personality which is, particularly when drowned in Negronis, gin and tonics, flaming B-52s, beer, Jack Daniel’s and whatever that pink shit is in the shooters is, oh-so-definitely my best feature.

Aaarrggghhh. This is really doing my head in.

I was enjoying myself before and now I feel really uncomfortable. I’m still at least partially deranged from Lukla and stressed to buggery about the Chinese embassy, because if I don’t get a China visa I have absolutely no plan B for the next few months. The last thing I need is more uncertainty.

Now, I can absolutely guarantee that Menage with Two Commandos I Met Virtually On Bloody Everest FFS will not only at least equal my friend’s Menage with Two Male Ballet Dancers, but come to sit alongside That Thing not in But ON the Dead Sea, That Thing in the Swimming Pool at the Orgy, That Thing with the Swedish Photographer and My Doppelganger and, last but not least, That Thing with the Dwarf in the Nazi Hat on the list, provisionally entitled “Sexual Opportunities I Must Have Been Mad to Pass Up”, which I will review sorrowfully, while festering in my bitter spinster juices, before the ulcerated pressure sores get me and the cats begin to circle my still warm, yet already maggoty, corpse.

But still, I don’t want to go with it.

It’s not just that we’re all hammered and therefore there could be boundary issues. It’s just that I genuinely like the White Knight and therefore it doesn’t seem right.

“Threesome?” Mr Darcy slurs again, later.

“I already told you NO,” I snap, like Vera Lynn, only really not. “I’m not changing my fucking mind. Now leave it.”

Despite being past caring about pretty much anything, I’m under the firm belief that I’m relatively sober, by British Army standards, anyway. I mean, I can stand. I can talk. I can walk. I know where I am, and the name of my hotel.

When the lights go up at 2am, marking the official end of all nightlife in that world city, Kathmandu, I’m dancing some mental circle dance with a bunch of Gurkhas, including Mr Darcy, who appears to have forgotten his wizard wheeze about the threesome, a memory lapse for which I am most grateful.

I think the circle dance is a Gurkha thing but it might just be what gangs of 20-something soldiers do in clubs when women are in short supply, but I’m honestly past caring.

But, despite being past caring about pretty much anything, I’m under the firm belief that I’m relatively sober, by British Army standards, anyway.

I mean, I can stand. I can talk. I can walk. I know where I am and, while I don’t know how to get home, exactly, I know what my hotel’s called and the landmark that it’s by, and that the White Knight, who appears to have the alcohol tolerance of an ox, will look after me if required.

I am, goddamn it, still as upright as both the SAS and the Gurkhas, and considerably more upright than Mr Darcy.

And, as far as I know, I haven’t been particularly obnoxious any more obnoxious than usual. Although, of course, the night is young.

Go me!!!! The girl done good!


Thanks to Machadox for the lead image.

6 Comments

  1. Can’t. Stop. Reading. What happens next??! I’m rooting for the White Knight…

  2. Rob says:

    A fitting end to the slog up Everest, it seems.

    • Theodora says:

      Hell, yeah. I think everyone involved needed to let their hair down. But, umm, I don’t really need encouragement to behave badly…

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