I had a bit of a panic the other evening.
I was in something of a rush to get out of the house and therefore didn’t really pay enough attention as I was getting dressed. I’m very particular about the clothes I wear when I go out for the evening. The right pair of shorts has to selected, followed by the correct superhero T-shirt. I then have to decide which pair of Converse boots to put on – do I put my black Batman pair on tonight or should I wear the blue ones with the Superman logo on the sides?
However, all of this careful planning will fall by the wayside if the wrong pair of underpants is selected. A night out involving alcohol requires the correct underpants; they can’t be too tight and they can’t be too loose. If they’re too tight you end up pulling at them all night, which gives the impression that you spend far too much time playing with yourself. If they’re too loose there’s too much movement down there and you end up frequently rearranging yourself throughout the evening, which again gives the impression that much of your time is spent . . . well, you get the picture.
Anyway, as I said I dressed rather hurriedly in order to get out of the house and over to the bar. It was someone’s leaving party and there would be free food on offer. My wife had recently gone back to the UK to study Fine Art at the University of Cumbria and so I’m out here on my own and the promise of free food meant I that wouldn’t have to cook for myself.
It’s not that I can’t cook – I consider myself to be fairly proficient in the kitchen and have cooked chilli con carne, pizzas and dhal for some of my neighbours since my wife left. I’m not, say, like my neighbour whose wife is also in the UK. When he said to me the other day “Why don’t you come over for a curry tonight – I’m cooking,” what he really meant to say was “Why don’t you come over for a curry tonight. Someone cooked for it for me last month, and I took it out of the freezer this morning. If you phone me five minutes before you’re planning to arrive I’ll just pop it in the microwave and it’ll be ready for when you get here.”
So, I went to the leaving party and ate the free food and drank the free beer. I had no idea who was leaving and, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really care. I knew I would have to listen to a long rambling leaving speech later in the evening, but that would be a small price to pay for the vast quantities of free food and drink I would have consumed by that time.
Drinking beer does have its drawbacks; first of all it gets you fairly inebriated and your speech will eventually become incoherent to anyone who has not been drinking as much as you. Secondly, you need to urinate at roughly fifteen minute intervals after a certain point in the evening. I try and hold off my first visit to the urinal for as long as I can because, as all men know, once you start (or break the seal, as one person accurately described it to me) that’s it; the rest of the evening is spent wanting to go for a piss so much that you end up not listening to what anyone is saying because you’re too busy concentrating on not wanting to go for a piss. I think it’s actually a proven scientific fact that in men the ratio of urine to beer over the course of an evening’s drinking is 3-1 – there’s just no stopping it once it starts flowing.
The drunker some men get the more they become critical of the female of the species. They say things like: “I don’t fancy yours,” or “She must have hit all the branches of the ugly tree on the way down,” or (my personal favourite) “I’ve never been to bed with an ugly woman, but I’ve woken up with a few”. It’s almost as if, upon downing their fifth or sixth pint, they have been magically transformed into Brad Pitt, Leonardo DeCaprio or Johnny Depp, minus their vast fortunes, extensive properties and interesting personalities.
By 9.30 I had reached the point of no return, that moment where I had an overwhelming urge to “break the seal” and so I stumbled off in the direction of the toilets. It was only when I reached my designated urinal that I realized the first of my mistakes. It was a schoolboy error, one that could have been easily rectified before I had even left the house; but in my haste to get to the free food and drink one that I had blatantly ignored – I had stupidly left the house to overindulge in alcohol wearing a pair of shorts that had a button-up fly instead of a zip.
When you’ve had too much to drink, even the simplest of tasks can transform themselves into tongue-poking efforts of concentration. Even a zip can be can be difficult, especially when trying to find the little metallic tag that allows you to open it. But buttons – compared to unzipping a fly, undoing buttons when under the influence is a positively Herculean task.
To make matters worse earlier that week I had almost sliced the end of my finger off while I was preparing onions for a dhal I was making. I had just sharpened the knife and as I brought it down on the onion it skidded off the top and buried itself into the end of my finger. Ironically the last time I had almost sliced the end of my finger off was in 1968 when I was working in a hotel kitchen chopping vegetables – although it was a carrot, and not an onion, that was the culprit that time.
Some of my blood eventually worked its way into the dhal I was making, but my neighbour thought it tasted OK – although I didn’t tell him about the blood.
Now I’m not good with blood, especially my own, and I tend to go into shock until someone qualified reassures me that I’m going to be all right. I ran my finger under the tap, trying not to look at it, and then wrapped it in toilet paper and rushed off to the Medical Centre. The medics were very helpful once they’d stopped laughing about the fact that I’d done this while attempting to cook after my wife had gone back to the UK. I tried to explain that I cooked anyway, but I don’t think any of them believed me.
Doctors and medics (as opposed to Doctor and the Medics who had a hit with a cover of Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky in 1986) have a peculiar, almost innate sense of black comedy which they direct at their patients on fairly regular basis.
In 2008 I had an accident involving an open door and some washing. My wife had been ironing some shirts at the time and hanging them above the door. As I ducked under the shirts I misjudged my entrance and smashed my head against the corner of the doorframe, at which point my eyebrow started to bleed profusely.
“Whatever you do,” said my wife, “do not look in the mirror.”
I looked in the mirror.
What I saw was my face covered in blood and I immediately started to panic. My wife sighed as if she had seen all this before (which of course she had). She stopped ironing my shirts, bundled me into the car and drove me to Casualty.
When I eventually got to see a doctor he cleaned up the blood and told me that I was going to be OK and that there was no way that I was going to bleed to death, but he was going to have to close up the wound.
“Now,” he said, “you can either have stitches or I can seal it up with glue.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked, thinking that stitches would probably hurt.
“Well, if I put stitches in the scar it will eventually disappear,” he said reassuringly, “but if I use glue you’ll end up with a permanent scar that’ll make you look like a Bond villain.”
“Get that glue on me now,” I told him without a moment’s hesitation.
So, back at the party, I was stood at the urinal fumbling with my fly, trying desperately, with my inebriate’s sausage fingers, to unbutton the damn thing. It has been well documented over the ages that drunkenness makes even the simplest actions supremely difficult and if you don’t believe me try watching a drunk attempting to stroke a passing dog.
It took me at least three minutes just to get one button undone, by which time my bladder was so full I was convinced something the size of a medicine ball was pressing against my kidneys.
I was about to discover, however, that having a button-up fly was the least of my problems. As I popped open another button and plunged my hand into my shorts I discovered, to my horror the second of my mistakes; in the rush to get out of the house, I had put my underpants on inside out!
The flap on the right side of my underpants where I would usually slip my fingers in to pull my todger out was no longer there. It was now on the other side, but in my confused, drunken state I couldn’t work out what had happened. I just stood there, scooting my hand across what appeared to be a vast, endless piece of cloth, hoping to find some kind of entrance so that I could relieve myself, but after 5 minutes I was still fumbling with a glazed look on my face (and probably dribbling as well).
A bloke behind me asked if I was all right and I gave him the usual drunk’s reply of, “Nnnneeerrrraaaassssaaapher,” before I undid my belt, dropped my shorts and pulled down my underpants.
I was at the urinal for a good five minutes with the kind of expression a man has on his face only after he’s had sex.
After I got home that night I made a mental note to check my clothing thoroughly before I went out to another party. But I knew I wouldn’t – the pull of a party with free food and booze is just too much for me.
I am, I suppose, like all men, a creature of habit.