Random Observation/Comment #154: I am used to being the only Chinese person in the crowd of mixed culture backgrounds, but never have I been in a situation that has brought me to hate another person with such a passion over racial confrontations. I look back on it now and laugh, but the bouncer at the door just had that tone and snicker that made me want to paint the walls with his entrails. He was a little bit bigger than me (a 300lbs black dude that looks like his muscles grew extra muscles on them) and I was a little drunk off of some amazing Guinness, so I backed off, but this was quite possibly the one time I was mad at a stranger. He eyed me from top to bottom at the door and said, “We don’t sell DVDs here.” What?!? My response did not involve that reaction, nor did it involve any reaction at all. I did not give him the pleasure to pass a funny joke. I was stoic and didn’t even let him give any gesture of apologies, while making it fully obvious that his comment was received. I hope he loses sleep over it.
I grew up drinking Guinness. It was my Dad’s incredibly ingenious child-raising technique that made me love beer itself, and not love the effects of beer (although it does its job as liquid courage). I did not drink to get drunk because it would be too expensive buying Guinness rounds in NYC bars. The enjoyment is the taste and the luxury, not the spinning room and pink elephant. I think the technique he taught was much further beyond maintaining a classy taste for alcohol; it was to suppress my curiosity. It may sound like a terrible idea, but at the right age, and with the right spin, it worked out surprisingly well.
I think one of my first drinking experiences was with my parents. He wanted me to get drunk. He actually got drunk with me and puked along side of me in a separate Chinese, red-dyed plastic bag. It was a night to remember… well, sorta. It was a night to learn limits. Unbounded curiosities are dangerous at an age where our futures and careers are so malleable. It’s no longer that set path from high school; we should actually see the next phases based on our own interests and decisions. It scares the shyt out of me knowing that I’m no longer holding my parents’ hands. Let’s hope my foundation is well built to maintain the strong winds of the sea.
With this said, I could not have left London without going to a proper pub, drinking a proper beer, and then getting proper shyt-faced. I’m glad I did it proper-ly. It was a level of drunk-ness maintained by a steady flow of Guinness into my stomach. I loved the taste and became more and more willing to spend money supporting my taste-buds’ desires. Knowing my limits, I found that threshold that redlined the gauge between tipsy and dieseled (a new phrase I learned from some kiwis at the Interlaken Hooters). It’s interesting how this shift is the difference between half a beer. Jokes seemed funnier and girls seemed prettier. Overall, the party mood definitely stepped up a notch.
The hostel+bar combination was probably one of the most profitable ideas I’ve noticed. It’s almost as genius as making a hotel+casino. Actually, the hostel+bar is probably the hotel+casino for poor people that are willing to spend money on drinking instead of spend money pulling levers in a very brightly lit sparkly room. If you think about it, there’s nothing easier than going to a bar connected to the hostel, which gives discounts for locals and plays music for study abroad students to make some bad decisions. I’m not saying that I was one of these students, but I’m also not saying that these opportunities were not plentiful. There’s a certain level of suspicion that should arise hearing one of these girls say they’re on birth control (not that I asked or it happened – it was in a story I heard somewhere at some time in my life).
Anyway, I suspected there would be at least a few of these nights where I would meet a few travelers and wind up walking around the city and tagging along the next day, but I didn’t expect this to proceed throughout my travels at a fairly consistent basis. I’ve learned that, although drinking and partying causes a late start to the tourist side of things, it allows for a certain level of intelligent conversation between not-quite-sober individuals – the key word being: certain.
I guess my point is that drinking and socializing at the bars is as much a part of the backpacking experience as taking hundreds of pictures of the surrounding attractions. I should add that this should not be a nightly thing (as many crazy study abroad students so often do), but alcohol definitely alleviates much of the awkward prying questions asked by a stranger. I’m not insinuating that if things go well, another level of the friendship will arise, but it is a great way for a single traveler (or a traveler by himself/herself) to find a buddy. Make sure this person shares common interests in taking pictures and has a sense of humor because the next day should be about absorbing the local customs and cultures.
~See Lemons Proper Drunk