Flashback - 1999: Expedition Scotland
Page 3

Day 3: Thursday - December 2nd, 1999 (Part II)
The Miserable

I cut in to the others' conversation (which I would find out about later that night) and showed them the flyer. There were like 2 dozen plays or musicals going on all the time over in the Theater District, and the show that I wanted to see was about a half an hour from starting! They were a little underwhelmed, and questioned me on my choice.

"The Phantom of the Faggy Opera," asked Baldwin. "Really?"

"But that's the show that launched Sarah Brightman's orgasmic career! Always wanted to see it," I explained.

"Ohhhhhhhhhh," said Megalodon in all seriousness. "I didn't know you were gay."

Pray, pray, pray, prrrrrray!I didn't say a word and I didn't take a swing at the broad (much to the Colonel's relief, as he found he wouldn't have had enough time to get between us if I did), but I did grab the closest woman walking past us and I bent her backwards and planted the biggest, wettest, sloppiest kiss I could give right onto her lips before letting her up for air. Then I turned around away from my group and over my back announced that with them or without them, I was going to the theater. They followed. I never told them that I think I felt stubble and an Adam's apple on my choice of pucker partner... I think they knew and they just assumed that I picked "her" because of that. *Sigh*

Anyway, we took another Tube to the Theater District and then I think we found a kiosk that was selling tickets to all the shows in town. There must have been a district-wide box office or something there... That part of the night is a little fuzzy. What I do remember though is that the guy behind the counter told me that Phantom was sold out for at least the next week, and that made me unhappy. I asked him what he DID have tickets for and he gave me a list of shows that I had never heard of before, shows that I had absolutely no interest in seeing (I swear I remember him telling me that Grease was an option [though it never was for me]), and one other... One that piqued my interest a bit and made me say, "Oh really?"

I turned to the others and said, "Anybody up for Les Miz?"

All three looked at me and said, "Ummmm, we're just going to head on back to the hotel for now... Maybe grab a bite to eat.... Maybe catch a nap.... It's been a long day."

I was tired too, true, but once again we did not travel halfway around the fucking world (for three scant days) to sleep. And if they went to sleep now (it was only a little after 7 on that evening, since Les Miserable was almost about to begin at 7:30), knowing them they wouldn't get up anytime before the next morning. CHRIST! I told them "Fine! Be that way! I'm going to the gay theater!... One please, to Les Miz!" I took my ticket and said, "Well, goodnight. See you back at the Lonsdale," and then walked down the street that the ticket agent pointed me toward. I didn't look back.

The theater (or is that theatre?) that the show took place in was fairly old, but the inside was pretty cool. It was a theater made for intimacy first and foremost. Everyplace I'd seen a play in before was either made for bulk, or was a converted Civic Center. This felt... pretty cool. I got comfortable up on my balcony, and about 2 minutes before the curtains went up in walked the Colonel, Megalodon, and Baldwin. They all had tickets right behind my row. I smiled... Not a douchebaggy "HA! I knew they'd follow me" smile, but a "Good! I hope they have some fucking fun!" smile. I really did not expect them to join me. It was a pleasant surprise.

Anyway, the play started, a lot of singing and woe took place, and lots of tragedy was befallen upon our heroes. I myself really loved the "fuck the French!"attitude of the whole thing. And then, after like 2 and a half hours, it was done. Not half as painful as I thought it'd be. The others seemed to have had a good time too. Who'd have guessed?

After we got out of the theater (after I got all the French harlots from the play to sign my chest, and the Colonel got them all to write some 8 versed poetry on his cock... I saluted him!) we pretended that no bad blood was between us at all, which was just fine by everybody involved. But by that time of night (about ten o'clock), we were all hungry as hell, and we had no idea where the fuck we were, or where we could go for some grub. That's when the Colonel's amazing ability to recall the most intricate details of conversations he'd overheard in the past saved our sorry asses. Out of nowhere, the Colonel snapped his head up with an expression that mirrored that midget that was possessed by the Ultimate Evil in Time Bandits, and revealed to his compatriots that he had an idea. "There's an Italian restaurant..... down...." (he pointed to his right) "...that street. It's supposed to be.... Fantastic.... We should..... Go there." Then he snapped out of it and just started walking in the direction he had pointed. The rest of us looked at each other like "what the fuck?" and followed.

London! London!! LONDON!!!
These are actually two of the more interesting photos I had taken of me at the Tower of London. Seriously, I didn't try to behead a Beefeater for the camera, nor did I pretend that I was going to jump from the top of the White Tower... I am so fucking disappointed with my younger self. Rest assured, if I were to go back there now you'd have a great shot of me mooning London from the top of the Tower Bridge.

Tres Trendy

We walked down the scariest fucking streets I'd ever wandered through (outside of a car). No, it wasn't a ghetto or a bad neighborhood in the sense that you'd think of when somebody brings up Hell's Kitchen in New York, but it was filled with freaks of nature in rubber and leather, half-shaved heads, green and pink and purple hair, spiked collars, guys and burlier guys making out on the sidewalks... It was an S&M website come to life. I think I even saw some dude who looked like he was halfway between human and werewolf form. He was standing on the corner eating a big dish of Beef Chow-Mein. Man, his hair was perfect.

After a few more minutes of walking we came upon the trendiest little Italian cafe you'd ever seen. Those guys at that place were great; the restaurant was nearly empty and it looked like they were going to start closing up early, but they sat us all down quickly and served us with big smiles. Maybe it was a queer cafe and they got the wrong idea and got their hopes up for the night — I don't know, but the food was great, the spirits were just what we needed, and after we bought two bottles of the house vino we had our wait staff toasting with us. We ate like pigs, we ran up a huge tab, but we didn't give a shit. I really wish I remembered that place's name.

Eet leevs ohn, eenside ahl of oos.It seemed that the night was going to end very well when Baldwin broke the mood by blurting out, "Rossman, we talked about it earlier and we don't want to go to Paris tomorrow. That's just not what... Sorry, no Paris."

"Oooooookay," I said, shrugging as if it were no big deal (which I didn't feel at all that it was). "Then what do you guys want to do?"

Megalodon jumped in, and in one breath got out, "We talked about it and we all decided that we want to pack a lunch and rent a car and go driving out into the English countryside until we find an abandoned castle and have a picnic lunch out there, and then, the Colonel wanted to go up to Cambridge and see one of his old professors who'd said that he'd put us all up for the night."

I swear to Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, that was exactly what she said. After a good minute of silence I said, "Pack a lunch? (She nodded.) Rent a car in a country that drives on the other side of the road and nobody here has any experience with? (More nods.) Drive around and around the countryside?"

"And find an abandoned castle, yes," Megalodon finished.

"Eat a picnic there... In weather that probably won't be better than it is today? (Nods.) Then go up to Cambridge and dooooooo what?"

No answer, but I didn't want to hold that against the Colonel. He was still good friends with his old teacher, and it wasn't his fault that we were only in this country for three full days. He probably initially thought he could spend at least 3 days in Cambridge alone on this trip. That wasn't the point though. The point was this sounded like the most ridiculous shit of an idea that I had ever heard. What I said, after a few more minutes of stony-faced silence was, "Okay... You guys can do that. I've made up my mind though and I'm going to Scotland tomorrow. That's the end of that. If you guys want to join me, that's fine. That'll probably be really fun. If not, well, I'll just meet you at Cambridge tomorrow night or in London on Saturday. How's that." That last part wasn't really a question.

They agreed (Megalodon smiling like she KNEW that their plans were the bestest ever, and they'd probably be even better without me involved), and we then got up to leave (well after the cafe's real closing time). We asked our waiter (who was getting a bit pissed at our extended lateness at that point) where the closest Tube was, and when the trains stopped for the night. He told us there was a station two blocks down, and (looks at watch) about five minutes from now. He smiled.

No.... IdeaWe freaked out, but booked it at incredible speed. Megalodon fell twice in the street. We made it to the Tube entrance just as they were locking up. We asked if the last train had left and were told it would be by in 2 minutes, and it would be the one we needed to get to Russell Square (luck comes through when you need it the most it seems... Or so I thought). Everybody else had exact change for themselves to buy one last ticket that night (a day pass would have really come in handy had we known...), but I was fresh out of pounds. Fuck! They all ran through the turnstiles as I started panhandling the few remaining people around the station entrance who looked lost, drunk, or just plain crazy. Everybody looked at me weird, but I looked back weirder.

I started screaming "I JUST NEED ONE GODDAMN TICKET! SOMEBODY, pleeeeease, just GIVE ME MONEY FOR A TICKET!!" when the bobby came up and asked if I was having or causing any trouble. I said, "Yes to the first part, no to the second... Do YOU have any quid for a frickin' ticket?!" Probably the wrong thing to ask when you look as frazzled, drunk, and cheezy-bearded as I did that night, as his face began to turn from forced cheeriness into "I think I'm going to get medieval on you" menacing. It was then that I heard the last line of the day approaching below, and I took a chance.

"What the fuck is HE doing!??" I screamed while pointing at a man scratching his mop-haired head while looking at a newspaper headline about the American president getting blow-jobs from his interns. The officer looked, and I legged it, vaulted the turnstile and jumped down the stairs to the track where the last train (with my companions on it) was just about to shut its doors. I threw myself on without minding the gap at all. And we were off. I even found a ticket on the ground at the Russell Square exit so that I could use it on the floor-to-ceiling turnstile gate to leave and not be forced to spend the night underground. Man, I did not think THAT one through.

We made it back to the hotel at about 1AM, Megalodon rubbing her back (from apparently falling down the subway stairs too), Baldwin so exhausted his eyes were already closed, and the Colonel continuing to sigh deeply. I was happy and smiling like a goof though... In just a few short hours I'd be in the land of my forefathers and mothers, drinking thick mead and eating haggis by a roaring fire! This was going to be incredible.