In Which We Hitch a Ride with Firefighters, I Get a Crush, and We Get Misled in Central London

July 1, 1997

First day of class. Met Sarah and Lisa for breakfast, walked to Birkbeck Col. for class. Not a bad first day. I feel confident I can do as well as or better than others in the class. I had written an essay about how my initial ideas of London came almost entirely from films like Mary Poppins. A little trite, but not untrue. And probably not uncommon.

We found out that the prof will pay for us all to see the “Reduced Skspre Co.,” which Lisa, Sarah and I had planned on seeing anyway. Feels good to be saving money already.

After class, Sarah and I tubed to Piccadilly and walked around for about an hour before we met Lisa back at Birkbeck. We flew back because we were already five minutes late — and her class had gotten out 20 minutes early anyway! The three of us bought lunch at Safeway and ate quickly at Lisa’s room. Then we had to run back to Birkbeck because we were late  (again!) for the guest speaker, Brian Bates, who talked about Celtic mythology. Made it just on time — whew!

Then prof. Penn took us to some used book stores in the vicinity of the British Museum. Lots of old stuff. Saw a Herb Ritts photo album with quite a few early shots of Madonna. Yum! But S, L, and I got separated from everyone else. We walked around like we knew where the hell we were. Stumbled onto Holborn Station and tubed back to Piccadilly.

I whipped out my map and led the girls to some shops, pubs and cafes Michael wanted me to visit. They were in Soho, somewhere near Old Compton St. and Dean St. Saw a lot of pretentious but hilarious (and intimidating!) gay clothing stores (expensive!), an insanely queer salon called Cut/Uncut, and a few cute pubs and cafes. Got a latte at a little Greek cafe whose name I can’t remember. Wanted to pick up a Pride ’97 t-shirt, but they didn’t have any large size (just S, M, XL), so I’ll wait. Picked up a Gay Times to learn a bit about this weekend’s P97 stuff.

Tubed back home and got dinner. No mistakes this time!

I’m astounded that I’ve only had to pee so far. Kinda worried about it, actually, but it’s just as well. There’s no toilet paper in the gents room on my floor!

Got a group together to tube back to Piccadilly (once again!) and to find a nice pub and to sit down for a pint or two. Wandered the streets and back alley for a about a half-hour and finally settled on a nice place called St. John’s. About four or five others decided to try elsewhere because St. John’s was a little crowded. Sarah, Lisa, Nick, myself and a few others each had a drink or two, then we met three students from New York City, who got friendly with the girls. They bought us all a round of pints, but it was clear they were only there for the girls.  That was my third of the evening, and I was just about done for the night.

We tubed back to our neighborhood and ran into a group of MSU students outside a Chinese restaurant. We got kinda loud just talking and bullshitting, and some neighbors yelled at us. A guy named John, here for an IAH program, seemed adamant that I come along with him and his friends to a club called the Gardening Club, at Covent Garden.

He was adorable and a bit sloshed. I’m almost ashamed of myself. He’s exactly my type: slim, soft-spoken, brown eyes, dresses well. Reminds me that I really miss J&8212; back home.  Probably too much — I’d better be careful!

I had nearly changed my mind, thinking it wiser to catch some sleep back in my room or hang out with the others for some late conversation, but whenever I hinted at leaving, John looked disappointed. “Oh, wait a minute,” he call out. “Who’s going now?”

So I convinced Sarah and Lisa to go back out on the town with me. I was pleased and surprised to see how excited John was about it. Was it me? Was it the girls?

Meanwhile, some of the girls had been chatting up a group of firefighters who were standing nearby. They convinced them to let us all pile into their truck. They drove us down the street to our building were we freshened up.

The Gardening Club wasn’t bad; a little on the small side. It was dark, smoky, foggy, with colored lights quickly flashing in every direction. John and I both wore sweaters, and this didn’t seem the sort of place for a sweater. We danced together by ourselves for a little while, which I gathered everyone else thought was a good thing.

Then Lisa came to “check on us.” She and Sarah wanted to go, so I left with them and some guy named Lindsay. John and Alison stayed behind. He made sure to get our room numbers so he could visit after we got back to Commonwealth. He asked me if I’d be awake or asleep. I told him to knock.

Lindsay seemed to know where he was going. He’d been in the city for five weeks already, so it seemed reasonable. Well, let’s just say Lindsay is a fuck-head. He led us on a convoluted route through Trafalgar Square, along Fleet Street, past St. Paul’s. Totally not the right way to Bloomsbury. We saw on a map that we were on the wrong fucking side of town!

“Oh!” he said. “Sorry. I thought we were going the other way.” I thought, What a dumbass!

He acted like he knew which fucking end was up. And he spoke with an accent that I could tell was completely affected after about two minutes. I couldn’t even understand him sometimes. Ugh, God! He was so pretentious!

I was like: “So where are you from originally?”

“Detroit,” he said, in a tone suggesting I should have somehow known intrinsically.

“Oh,” I said, thinking, Why the stupid accent?

I knew when we got to Trafalgar Square that we were too far south. I should have taken over — but no — I have to trust the wankers! I offered small advice, like “shouldn’t we be going that way?”

“Well,” he said, “we shouldn’t want to go that way.” And then he started telling me exactly which landmarks were where so I could better understand our location.

He’s an idiot, but it was my choice to follow him. Lisa and Sarah and I sort of hung back and cracked jokes about Lindsay while he charged blithely ahead. He’d say something, and we’d ignore him. Just get us home, you tool.

John and Alison probably took a taxi back, which would have been the smart thing to do, while the rest of us were bumbling around the wrong part of London. They probably got back an hour before we did, at a time when I would have been neither asleep nor in my room. If John came by knocking, I’ll never know.

At least I saw some sights, I guess.

Some girl, Emily, I think, turned 21 tonight and spent the evening puking her eyes out! Yuck. Remind me to be bit more sensible on my 21st… [I was not] Poor thing.


0 Responses to “In Which We Hitch a Ride with Firefighters, I Get a Crush, and We Get Misled in Central London”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

the untallied hours

%d bloggers like this: