Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just Like a Viking (not for the faint of heart)

Sometimes, very funny things happen to me, or I hear of funny things happening to others.  It would be a waste to keep them to myself, especially if even just one other person will laugh.  To be kind, though, (and I’m not inherently unkind) it’s sometimes necessary, and always desirable, to embellish and tweak in the cause of obfuscation and entertainment. Both techniques are employed here in what will be presented to you as a story.  It’s entirely up to you to decide who’s who, and what’s true…

He was a callow youth - a fact to which many of his friends would attest - but also inclined to be gregarious.  He rather enjoyed the occasional pint too - as long as an occasion could be defined as something that happens at least eight times a day. It would be pleasantly reassuring to suppose that this combination of ill considered, alcohol fuelled sociability is a occurrence rarer than dodo sightings, but that would be a mistake since, unfortunately, it pretty much sums up most lads in the eighteen to twenty-two age bracket.

Our particular lad was also blessed with two left feet, extreme myopia, a callous disdain for sartorial elegance and a distressing tendency to behave tactlessly to people whom he considered less intelligent than himself - which was pretty much everyone.

I paint this somewhat less than flattering picture for you so that when I tell you, at the time our story unfolds, that the lad has a girlfriend you’ll appreciate that this is an infrequent occurrence and one he’s as keen as mustard to nurture.

Now, no-one’s all bad and our hero does have a few plus points - he’s a fair cook, and has reasonable taste in wine too.  This evening he’s had an opportunity to use both these skills in the pursuit of a greater aim (some might say the only aim of most lads of his age) as he and his girlfriend have her parents’ house to themselves while Mum and Dad are away for the weekend. Since he’s already been invited to stay over, he’s reasonably sure it’s going to be a lucky night. He’s prepared a chili con carne, fresh jalapenos and coriander mind you - none of your powdered or freeze-dried rubbish and procured a pretty decent bottle of St Emilion with which to wash it down.

An hour or so later the pair of them are having a “nice cuddle” on the sofa when our hero decides to try a little game of “Yellow Pages”[1]. At first, all seems to be going remarkably well - right up until the point where his little sweetheart emits a banshee shriek and runs to the bathroom as fast as its humanly possible to do with one’s best lingerie round one’s ankles. (I did say remarkably well, didn't I?)

Initially very concerned for the young lady’s welfare and puzzled by this extreme behaviour our boy is soon left in no doubt as to the cause of her ire as, to the accompanying hiss of a power-shower on full-cold, punctuated by a number of vile oaths worthy of the saltiest of sea-dogs she casts doubt upon his parentage, calls down on him a plague of misfortune and lets him know in no uncertain terms of the capsicum tainted error of his ways. She instructs him in tones that preclude any negociation to begone, permanently, from her sight by the time she leaves the bathroom if he knows what’s good for him.

I’m sure you, ladies and gentlemen of the world, can work the details out for yourselves without me having to stoop to further explanation.  But you might be wondering what this has to do with Vikings? 

Well, history has it that, just like our now rather chastened would-be lothario has just done, the Vikings ended many a loving relationship by setting fire to the man in the boat….

[1] Let your fingers do the walking.


Some time ago, the grumbler managed to link together far too much of his online life, with the result that this blog automatically gets loaded onto facebook. Well, no more! The grumbler, and the other entity on facebook are two completely different entities - and the one is clearly cramping the other's style...

Now, if this note fails to appear on facebook, then I'll know Ive got the setting right, and the grumbler can blog, without the facebook fella getting the credit...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Phew, that was close...

So, a few of us went for a meal last night at a brewpub not far from San Francisco international airport.  One of my favourites, actually, and has been since I first set foot in the place.

I digress, but it seems to be a week for reminding myself that I'm not precisely a spring chicken any more (more of a crispy duck) - I've been going there for 15 years, give or take. Worse than that, its just a week (to the hour) that I was watching a band I've loved for 33 years play my favourite song of all time.  The fact that they are still going (well, 75% of them) is proof enough to me that "No More Heroes" remains an inaccurate song title.

Anyway, back at the brewpub it was apparent from the off that it would be "one of those nights" as we marched in and - to the consternation of the waiting staff - demanded "a table for four and a half".  Still, we were soon accommodated after a short sojourn in the back bar/billiard room in which Andy and I managed to obtain two of the nastiest pints of beer we'd encountered in a long time (soon rectified by switching to the ever reliable "Broadway Blonde"). Packed into a booth, we decided that it would be Andy's birthday today, and we dutifully informed our server of the fact that he had just turned one hundred and seven. This turned out to be a smart move, since they gave him a free desert. Next time we're here, andy wants me to take him to a Chevvy dealer so that he can claim to be a hundred and sixty-three and see if the give him a free Corvette. I cant say that its much of a spectator sport watching Andy pack in a fudge brownie (ooo-errr, missus) but the conspicuous consumption prize for the evening went to Graham, who ate anything that wasn't actually nailed to the table.

Anyway, a few ales meant that it was entirely necessary for me to head off to what the Americans euphemistically term a "rest room". Personally, if I want a rest, I'm not likely to do it in a place where the decor features more white tiles and stainless steel than the average post-mortem suite and which smells, distressingly, of poo, but t takes all types I suppose. Noticing that there was already a fellow in the place, I immediately took myself to the comfort zone furthest from him.

Isn't it weird how most blokes can instantaneously process the incredibly complicated rules of bathroom etiquette while half drunk (or worse) and single-mindedly bursting for a pee, and yet so few can complete a relatively simple puzzle like Rubik's cube in total sobriety even if given  month of Sundays?

Anyway, I was irrevocably committed to the act of wringing out a kidney when a deep voice immediately behind me said "Hey Baby".  Well, I was so shocked and disturbed by this that if I hadn't been busy doing what blokes do when standing in bathrooms I'd probably have wet myself. As it was, I performed the incredibly convoluted manoeuvre required to twist round and prepare to defend my honour, without actually splashing my boots, in mere fractions of a second.

Anyway, directly behind me was a guy, mercifully facing away from me, belt undone and jeans wide open, with his pride and joy in one hand and his iPhone in the other or, since this is close to Silicon Valley, maybe he had his pride and joy in one hand and was holding his willy with the other. The bloke was actually phoning his girlfriend while taking a gipsy's kiss[1]. I mean, I can appreciate the art of multi tasking, but its not exactly romantic, is it? More to the point, he scared me half to death and came scarily close to experiencing a violent misunderstanding. I can talk the hind leg off a donkey, but even I'd have had a hard time explaining that to the local Peelers.

Clearly, the world is a weirder place that I give it credit for. Time to go home...

[1] Rhyming slang.  Work it out for yourself.