Cynthia and I walked toward the cab. She swaggered and swayed pulling us both to and fro as if we were dancing to the tune of her incessant sobbing. I supported her weight, her head rested on my shoulder, her nose oozing like a broken faucet, running into my collarbone creating a sort of mucous river that tickled as it made its way into my bra. I gagged, swallowed hard, I am such a fucking good friend, and kept walking. London had just found its way into the, “my life is absurd” tab in my diary.
I was rowdy from the moment we left our hostel in Hyde Park, carelessly skipping down the eternally soaked cobblestone towards our newfound favorite pub, a local non tourist destination filled with drunken Englishmen, and Guinness, the kind of place I fantasized about in high school, sitting around with girlfriends watching Jude Law movies, and talking about how much better sex would probably be if an accent were involved.
We’d been at the pub for less than an hour when two strangers approached our table, disrupting a really serious talk Cynthia and I were having, on whether or not anal sex actually counted as losing ones virginity. I argued yes, she argued no, but I was pretty sure I was right. Taking it in the ass automatically pops your cherry in my book. In high school I knew of a lot of ladies who would take it in the ass in order to rightfully wear a white gown in their wedding. We laughed uncomfortably while observing the encroaching men standing over us. At first glance I was unimpressed. They were about 5’10”, late twenties, semi attractive, one had blonde hair, a fake tan, and a chiseled chin, and the other had short dark hair, green eyes, and a sort of boyish face. Upon second glance, I decided the blonde one was waaaay too plastic for me, but the other one was kind of cute.
“Ladies” the blonde one began with a thick English accent, “we’re having a party for a friend, and we’d like your opinion on something”.
“yes you absolutely need strippers” I said before he had a chance to ask the question.
He looked entirely un-amused. Bastard Ken doll.
“Ok, ok I can give my honest opinion”. I said rolling my eyes
“Thank you darling, so here it is: we are trying to decide, what’s a better theme party, seventies or eighties?”
“Seriously?” I asked, “Eighties, hands down”.
Cynthia chimed in, “Yeah definitely, no question! I mean, the clothes are hotter, and the music is fucking awesome, and everyone can blame their coke habit on the theme”.
“I blame my addiction on the eighties” I said to Cynthia nodding
“sigh. Don’t we all” she shook her head pretending to be ridden with angst. We smiled to each other, and I suddenly remembered my manners.
“I’m Misty” I said, “and this is Cynthia”. Cynthia waved. The blonde one grabbed my hand, “I’m David”. I nodded and smiled, thinking of the time I torched my Ken doll in my Skeletor castle dungeon with my mom’s lighter. The second guy, the cute one with the dark hair, stepped forward and grabbed my hand, “Gareth” he said giving me a cordial nod. He was attractive, and I was extra excited that he had rather nice teeth. Straight pearly whites are not usually that big of a deal, but we were in England, and that alone raised an appreciation for teeth.
“So Gareth and David” Cynthia smiled to them, “is this how you usually pick up on girls? I’m impressed” she said sarcastically.
The boys laughed uncomfortably, their eyes inconspicuously looking her over. She was a beauty, nobody could deny that. Huge brown eyes, charcoal hair, olive skin, and the perkiest fucking d cups I’d ever seen.
“Well come on ladies” Gareth said, “You have to give us a break. Does it look like we know what we’re doin? And it’s not everyday we see girls as beautiful as you two sitting in our pub”. He smiled, I looked at him skeptically. Where the hell did he think he was going with lines like this? My vagina was officially closed off starting now. “Can we join you?” I think Gareth asked, he had a really strong accent; like there were 100 marbles in his mouth.
Cynthia looked at me, I nodded. “Sure, sure, sit down” I gestured to the seats across from us. They both sat down, Gareth across from me, David across from Cynthia. “Where ya from?” Gareth asked us.
“We’re from the states. Utah…” Cynthia answered.
“Utah?!” Gareth gasped, “You mean with the weird men in black with the books?!”
“Oh yeah, them. Mormon missionaries? You’ve seen them in London?” I asked.
“Course…freaks!” Gareth laughed, “Unless you’re Mormon of course, then they are lovely blokes.”
“I’m not…” I stopped and shrugged.
I looked to Cynthia who was raised Mormon. She and David were sitting across from each other fully engrossed in conversation. I turned back to Gareth,
“So…what are you guys up to tonight?” I asked.
“Imnotsure” Gareth said, clearly giving up on enunciation. Then he looked down and gestured towards my beer.
“whatayadrinkin?” he asked. I wasn’t sure I understood,
“What am I drinking?” I asked for clarification.
“Yeah. Drinkin?” he repeated.
“Oh, it’s Guinness. Um, where in England are you from?” I asked.
“Guinness” he looked surprised, “that’s a mans drink! You’re not a man!” And the Nobel Prize goes to Gareth. “And me, I’m from Liverpool”.
“Ah, that explains the funny talk, and you’re right, I’m more or less a woman” I laughed.
“My funny talk eh?” he smiled, “Says you! You people over in the colonies can’t even pronounce Aluminium correctly”.
“Huh? What the fuck is Aluminium?” I asked.
He held up his gum wrapper to show me the silver side.
“Ooh!”, “A-l-u-m-i-n-u-m” I pronounced it slowly.
“Yeah A-l-u-m-i-n-i-u-m!” he said back
“No, no, you poor thing… you have a speech impediment. It’s ok, most brits do, I blame the plagues…brain damage…you know.” I smiled.
He laughed out loud. While I watched him laugh at my making fun of him, Cynthia nudged me with her foot.
She turned to me, “David just offered to show us around the city, if you want” she smiled her big toothy smile. Her teeth were un-naturally perfect and white, it must have really freaked out the people here with there reputation for shoddy dentistry.
I turned to Gareth who looked eerily eager to hear my answer.
“um, okay sure, as long as we can get some food first?” I asked.
“I want fish and chips!” Cynthia burst out.
“I want tea.” Gareth mumbled, “Oh do you?” I asked, “We don’t like tea in America, we take it all and toss it into the harbor.” I smiled.
“cheeky cow” Gareth smiled at me.
“Oh? I don’t know what that means; you have to speak English if you want me to understand you.” He rolled his eyes.
“Shall we go then?” Gareth asked everyone.
Cynthia and I looked at each other and nodded. We quickly finished our beers, gathered our things and headed towards the door.
When we reached David’s car outside he paused at the door before letting us in, “Ok, if we get food you can eat in the car while we drive around, but if you spill anything I’ll have you hoovering the whole thing” He looked very serious.
Cynthia leaned into me, “is he seriously talking about vacuuming right now?” I nodded slowly. And she started laughing, “oooh this is going to be funny”. I nodded again agreeing. We all climbed inside the car, me and Gareth in the back, Cynthia and David up front. Clearly the coupling had begun, and I sunk into my seat feeling the pressures that were building. I knew where this was going to lead; only I’m too socially retarded to deal with it in a normal way. For now, I would just be myself and hope that scared Gareth off.
When we reached the fish and chips place we climbed out of the car and Gareth and I stood outside smoking while David and Cynthia went inside to grab everyone food. It was cold and rainy outside, drearily characteristic of Britain.
“the weather here is unpleasant. That’s why you guys are always invading and colonizing in warmer climates. It’s like a vacation spot for you guys!”
“Oh yeah just like you guys, and your warm vacation spot, Guantanimo. I hear it’s lovely this time of year”. I laughed out loud.
“But really, how can you stand the weather here?” I asked Gareth.
“Ya get used to it I suppose” he said, “it’s why we drink so much tea. To warm the body” he smirked. “Do you know how to make a nice cuppa tea?”
“I do, my father is Persian, and we lived on tea growing up. I’m a pro at this point”. I heard an American accent just as a girl bumped into me as she walked by with her friends. “Sheesh watch it lady” I said after her, lightly. She was wearing an over-sized red coat…A…red…coat!!!.
Gareth turned to me, “well I suppose you’ll be makin the tea later then”.
“Oh absolutely, I’ll make you ten if you do something for me…” I smiled.
“Anything love” he looked twitterpated…sucker.
“deal!” I said, and I turned booked it after the girl with the jacket.
After I told her what I wanted with it, she was more than happy to lend me her coat for a moment. I took out my video camera and walked back toward Gareth with the jacket in one hand, and my video camera in the other.
“What ya gonna do with that mate?” Gareth asked.
“Well, you’re going to put this on and chase me down the block, and this girl is going to film it.” The American girl and her friends laughed.
“Why on earth?” and then I saw a light go off in his head, he suddenly realized the joke, “fine, fine, I’ll sacrifice me pride, but you betta make the best damn tea of my life”. I knew it wasn’t the tea he wanted, because he kept looking at me like I was something to eat. It was a little disconcerning, but I figured if I could get this out of it, I could handle the hungry stares.
Gareth put on the jacket and stood there looking miserable. The jacket was a bit snug on him, and while he wasn’t a chubby man, he had a bit of a beer belly that protruded from the front of the jacket. The sleeves were too short and his hairy arms poked out. Just as Gareth was getting fitted for our reenactment, Cynthia and David came strolling out of the fish shop.
“What in the?” David asked.
“Oh. My. GOD!? Cynthia choked out in a burst of laughter. Clearly, she knew what I was up to. I smiled to David and Cynthia, “be right back” and turned to the girls, “you ready?” she held up the camera and nodded. “Gareth?” I asked, he nodded that he was also ready, though he looked like a dog that was in trouble for something.
“Ok. Now.” I said and I took off running down the street. Gareth followed, running in his little red coat, awkward and embarrassed. I waited for him to get right behind me before I started screaming.
“THE RED COATS ARE COMING! THE RED COATS ARE COMING! JESUS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THEY’RE COMING WITH THEIR BAD TEETH AND OBNOXIOUS MANNERISMS! HELP, HELP!”
People on the street jumped out of the way as we went running by screaming. Gareth, now, was laughing hysterically behind me. We reached the bottom of the street in less than a minute. It took us three minutes to walk back to David, who looked annoyed, and Cynthia who couldn’t stop laughing.
“You…are…such…a…retard!” she choked out. I laughed and nodded to agree. I was out of breath from running and yelling, and Gareth was quiet with subtle embarrassment. He knew David, the bore, didn’t approve and shrugged to him in that, “I’m trying to get laid” sort of way.
I thanked the American girl and gave her back her coat, and she gave me back my camera. “Priceless” she said laughing as she handed it back. We parted ways, and walked back towards David’s car to tour the town.
I sat in the back with Gareth picking at my French fries, and staring out the window at the London tower.
“Do you see vampires or werewolves around ever?” I asked him.
“No, you see rednecks with guns named billy-bob in America ever?” he asked.
We drove a bit until we reached the London Bridge. It looked beautiful in the moonlight and the history of the place excited me. It’s as though we innately long for the old, the familiar, places where blood has been shed in name of things bigger than us. Queens, God’s. We’re a people dying to kill for a cause, justifying it through divinity and seeking solstice in the burial grounds of the slain. I felt at home knowing that old bones, and old scars had been put to rest beneath us, that my family line began here, some of it ended here, before moving to the new world. The new world, with new ideas by displaced people, who focus to unite the world as one in an effort to connect to their roots, the ones that feed from the dirt fertilized with the bodies of our ancestors.
After we’d driven around for a few hours talking amongst ourselves and seeing London at night I was ready to go back to the hostel.
“What should we do now?” I leaned into the front to ask Cynthia.
She shrugged and looked towards David.
“We can go back to my place if you like” David said.
“Oh lovely, then I can get that cuppa tea!” Gareth chimed in.
“One track mind you know that?” I smiled to Gareth. I wondered if he thought I was really that naïve. This entire night had been focused on getting into our knickers; I knew that, I hoped that Cynthia knew that. By all means there’s nothing wrong with it, but I certainly wasn’t in the mood to play the game.
“what’s the address?” I asked Gareth
“it’s blah blah blah” he told me.
“is that even a real address?! Jesus, you people!” I laughed
“Look here woman! We invented addresses!” he laughed
I scowled, giving him a doubtful look.
“Ok I have no way of actually proving that, but I’m English so my words are infallible!” he smiled.
“riiight.” I smiled back.
I shrugged to Cynthia, “whatever you want to go” I said, giving her the decision making power. “That might be fun” she said, “sure”. Next thing I knew we were parked in front of a red brick apartment building.
We walked up three flights of stairs before reaching the door of David, and Gareth’s apartment. On the walk up we’d learned that they were roommates, though honestly it seemed like a rather odd coupling. Gareth was fun, and witty, and David was terribly dull and snobbish. When we finally walked inside the apartment I was surprised by how nice it was.
The apartment was huge, and decorated really well, nothing like the normal American bachelor pad that I’m used to with black futon furniture, a big screen t.v. and a few posters of blonde big breasted bombshells tacked into the dry wall. It was nice, and smelled like Clorox. Clearly, David put his obsessive cleanliness, and vacuuming obsession to use here.
David gestured to the sofa where Cynthia and I took our seats,
“if you spill anything” David started,
I cut him off, “we have to hoover it, we know David” I shot Cynthia a, “what the fuck is his problem” look. His attitude was starting to bother me. “Where is the restroom?” I asked Gareth.
“The what?” he asked confused. I thought about it and realized that’s American English. I sighed.
“where’s the toilet?” I asked. I hated saying that, it seemed really crude to me.
“Oh! It’s upstairs to the right”. Gareth answered.
I looked at Cynthia, “come with?” and she nodded.
We walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind us.
“Okay, what’s going on?” I asked.
“I don’t know!” Cynthia answered.
“Do you like him?” I asked
“Yeah, I do, he’s really cute and really sweet!” She smiled
“He is not sweet! He’s an ass! But do you want to stay here, I mean, you know?” I asked, hoping she would say no. I didn’t want to stay there but I was willing to deal with it, and take one for the team so to speak. Figuratively, not literally.
“I kind of want to stay, but I don’t know! I don’t know!” She said while opening their medicine cabinet and grabbing the toothpaste. She squeezed the tube onto her finger and started to brush her teeth with it. I laughed, “give me that” and I took it from her. It was a good way to get greezy French fry taste out of my mouth.
“So…” I mumbled with my finger in my mouth, “are we staying or not?”
“Um, sure. Yeah” she said.
“Fine with me” I spit the toothpaste into the sink and rinsed my mouth with water, “I’m not sleeping with Gareth though. I mean, he’s nice but I’m going to have to figure something out…cause he’s going to try!” I sighed.
She turned towards me seriously, “well I’m not sleeping with David! I just want to talk with him and kiss maybe!” She smiled.
I shrugged and opened the door. We walked downstairs back towards the boys and the couch.
I made Gareth tea as promised, while David made the three of us martinis. I could feel myself getting much more drunk than I anticipated and I was starting to worry about losing control of the situation. On top of that, I was getting tired.
“I’m tired” I said to Cynthia
“It’s too late for you girls to go, you can sleep here on the couches or we’ll give up our rooms” David said.
“You can sleep in my bed with me, I’ll be a perfect gentleman” Gareth said to me.
“really? I have a hard time believing that, but ok. You’re not getting into my knickers though, I hope you realize that” I smiled.
“Dear god woman who speaks like that! Are you unfamiliar with internal dialogue?” he laughed. I shrugged. Well, if we are going to sleep let’s sleep. I’m dying.
Gareth and I walked into his room. A full size bed was up against one wall, and a computer and desk were on the other. It was more or less empty aside from those things and I sighed when I looked at the bed. This was going to be interesting, I knew that. I turned around to see Gareth shimming out of his jeans. He was wearing boxer briefs that were tight on his thigh. His legs were rather hairy, and it looked like he was covered in gerbils.
“Give me your boxers” I said
“The ones I’m wearin? What for?” he asked confused
“Not those ones, different ones. I’m not sleeping in your bed, with you, in my underwear. No chance.” He turned to a dresser and pulled out a pair of boxers.
“Now turn around. If I catch you peaking at me changing I’m going to recreate the revolutionary war in your bedroom.”
He laughed and obeyed. I kept my eyes on his back and quickly hopped out of my skinny jeans and into his boxers. I left my t shirt on, and hopped into his bed.
“You can turn around now” I said.
He turned an smiled, then hit the light and I felt the bed sink and he hopped into it. We laid there talking for some time and I was beginning to think that maybe he wasn’t going to do something entirely retarded, but then of course, he did something stupid.
I was mid-sentence ranting about my family when there was suddenly a face hovering over mine.
“Gareth?” I asked in a small voice
“Wot?” he asked
“What the hell are you doing?” I asked.
He laughed, “what da mean?” he asked.
“I’m not sleeping with you, no chance” I said
“For godsakes woman! I never said you were!” he laughed
The moment I opened my mouth to tell him I wasn’t born yesterday there was a mouth against mine, wide open like a baby bird waiting for regurgitated insects. Copius amounts of saliva trickled into my mouth, and around my lips, and then I felt his hard hyper extended tongue jam into my throat like a fleshy batting ram. I gagged and put my hands on his chest shoving him off of me. I spit all of the saliva in my mouth, mostly his, onto the bed next to me because I sure as hell wasn’t going to swallow it.
“What the fuck are you doing!? Jesus! You can’t just attack someone’s face like that!”
“Attack’s a strong word now isn’t it?” he laughed
“I don’t think so, no. I told you you’re not getting into my knickers!”
“Well technically, it would be me getting into my knickers, now wouldn’t it? Since you’re wearing my boxers.” I looked down. Yes, true.
“You’re not going anywhere near my guts!” I tried to be more specific
“Jesus mate! That’s a bit crude!” he gasped, “is that how women in your part of the world refer to their parts?”
“No, just me, but point being you stay off, and keep your tongue to yo…” And I was startled by a knock on the bedroom door.
Gareth jumped out of bed and walked to the door wearing his boxers and t-shirt. I heard the doorknob turn, and a stream of soft light shot into the room.
“Is Misty asleep?” I heard Cynthia say
“Yes” Gareth answered.
“Wait, what?! Gareth I am not asleep you shit!” I yelled at him, “Cynthia love I’m right here” I yelled. I was lying on my back at this time staring at the ceiling.
“Can I talk to you?” she said. Her voice sounded like it was breaking. She sounded scared or sad or something not normal. I jumped out of bed. “Be out in one second” I yelled, “Gareth turn around you perv!” and I threw off his shorts and pulled my jeans back on. I was dressed and ready to go and walked out of his bedroom to see Cynthia standing there looking torn.
“What’s wrong?” I hugged her.
“Nothing, I…I…I want to go. David called us a cab and it will be here in a minute. Is that okay?” She looked down at her feet, and started to hit her toes against the carpet.
“Of course that’s okay”. I said. I looked behind her to see David sitting on his white couch. I walked around Cynthia up to him,
“what the hell did you do?!” I said sternly, glaring at him. I wanted to spill kool aid on his stupid couch.
“I didn’t do anything” he looked shocked.
“Right. Well clearly I know where you live, so I hope that’s the case.” And I pivoted around and grabbed Cynthia.
“we can wait outside” I grabbed her hand and we started down the stairs.
David ran after us but I ignored him until we got outside. I turned around,
“what the fuck do you want?!” I was seething. Cynthia was now bawling and there was a spit trail from my shoulder where she was leaning up into her wet mouth. It reminded me of Gareth’s attempted plundering of my poor mouth. Gag.
“I just…I just want to see the cab license plate. You can’t trust them around here, they’ve been known to rob people or rape girls and sometimes the girls just disappear”.
I looked at Cynthia confused.
What the hell was wrong with this guy? There he was doing something weird to make my friend cry, and he’s worried about the cabby selling us to the Bosnian prostitution ring? Seriously?!
“You are so fucking weird” I mumbled to him.
The cab pulled up and David mouthed the license plate to himself.
“Are you done?” I asked
He nodded and I walked Cynthia to the car. She was still crying on my shoulder drooling down my shirt. So much spit for one short night. I needed to talk with her, but David was standing behind us, and Gareth was at the door watching. I sat her in and gave her a hug. While I walked around the car to my side I made sure to glare at David and Gareth, not breaking eye contact until I sat inside the car with her. I gave the address of our hostile to the cab driver, who didn’t look at all like a snuff porn dealer.
Cynthia was sniffling and I put my arm around her,
“honey what happened? What’s wrong? What did he do? You need to tell me”. I was livid, I had no idea what happened but I was convinced it was something pretty bad.
“Did he try to force you to do something?! Did he say something cruel!?” I asked. That pervert!
She started crying harder. I was going to kill him. I hopped out of the cab and walked right past David and Gareth, ran up the stairs into their apartment and threw open their front door. They scrambled up after me. When they reached where I was, I was holding a bottle of red wine over David’s couch. “NO!” David shouted. I smiled, “I don’t know who the hell you think you are” I said, and turned the bottle upside down letting the deep red river run all over his precious fucking couch. His eyes became wild, and Gareth looked like he was looking at the devil himself, his eyes were wide, his mouth gaped open. “Oh no, not the bloody couch!” I said in the worst British accent I could muster. I dropped the bottle onto the floor, and headed towards the door. Cynthia had come up after me and was standing in the door-way shocked. I walked past the boys, grabbed Cynthia by the arm and pulled her down after me back to the cab.
When we climbed back into the cab I scooted next to Cynthia and put my arms around her. “Fuck that guy…and his stupid OCD. Let’s see him ‘hoova’ the wine out!” I said, glaring out the window up towards their apartment. The cab driver pulled away, and we were on our way back to the hostel.
Cynthia turned towards me, her face wet, and she began to speak, “Daaviid” Sniff, sniff, “Daviiid” cough, “David’s a really nice guy, really good guy. Bu-bu-but when he kissed me it reminded me of my ex boyfriend. I want my ex boyfriend back. I’m sooo sa-sa-saaaaaad”. My anger instantly vanished and I was confused.
“Wait, you’re freaking out because you miss your ex?!” I asked in disbelief. “I mean, Really!?”
And then I started laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. Tears swelled in my eyes, and leaked down my cheeks. Cynthia looked shocked, confused. She stared at me with tears running down her face for a moment, before she broke into a huge smile and began laughing hysterically with me. I choked out words between ha ha ha’s, “those poor guuuuuys!!!!” I laughed, “they muuuust think I’m out of myy miiind” choke choke.
Cynthia was still laughing, “I can’t believe what just happened! And it wasn’t even their fault!” she laughed. “Yeah, but…they’ll get over it. Now they have a story to tell their friends, and honestly it’s not so bad. He can pay to have the stupid sofa cleaned! I thought he did something bad to you!” She laughed even harder and I joined in. Maybe I should have felt a little bad, but I couldn’t, life is serious enough without a morbid sense of humor.
“Sometimes you just have to laugh” I coughed out.
“Well…this is the best…time for that” she said.
“Well, if they had done something weird they would have deserved it, and I would have regretted not doing something, besides, it’s better to be looked at as crazy than have regrets. And, he wouldn’t shut up about his fucking Hoover! Now he’ll have stories to tell his friends about insane American women, and he’ll have a fun cleaning project”.
“well that’s true” she nodded, he laughter dying down.
“You know it’s funny, at home I’m a lot more thought out, but there’s something about being over here. It’s like a weird sense of freedom, which I’m sure is false, but it’s like there is no consequence right now…and I feel like I can just do whatever I feel motivated to do.
“I know exactly what you mean, it’s like at home there is this weird inhibition that comes from who knows what…here I feel totally unbridled, it’s kind of hard to put into words”.
“uh huh…let’s just avoid homicidal urges”
“meah, if you say so”.
Our cab driver looked freaked out about our conversation, Cynthia and I looked at him at the same time and each other, making a “shhh” face. We both turned to the windows on either side of us and watched the London landscape fly by in dark muted colors. There was something to what she said about feeling unbridled that was potentially hazardous, and completely magical.
The human spirit can be stifled, contained, changed, and even killed. We barely feel it; we rarely see it outside of tragedy anymore. It surfaces only when we’re pushed, or called on in desperation. However if it’s given a cause, or allowed to run free it becomes a driving force, manifesting in chaos that’s beautiful, or maddening, an uncontainable force. Unbridled sex, inhibited laughter, or genuine care-free need for self made happiness with disregard for consequence is what makes life exactly what it should be, but it’s the fear of “what if” it’s the terror of “foul play” that keeps us from doing what truly makes us happy. Willingness to accept pain, to look ridiculous, to fight, to stand up against the status quo, relieves us from the fear of a confrontational mortality, and allows the human spirit to take over and do what it does best, forces us to fight for life, to live, regardless of what we “ought not do”.