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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Flushing away anxiety

It is logical that if we are provided with more options we will be happier, right? If I buy a new car, I want to be able to pick red or white or black or silver or... whatever. Even if I love the color green, it would probably rub me the wrong way if that were my only option.

Again, logically, it seems that would apply everywhere--TV shows, breakfast cereals, porn... all the staples. There's been an assertion, though, that too many options have a negative effect. The Paradox of Choice asserted that position well. We fret when there are too many possibilities. We have buyers remorse. We don't make a decision and just get on with our lives.

Last night I was, predictably, at a club. I, predictably, had to use the restroom. And I, not so predictably, almost ended up reaching into a urine-filled toilet.

The pants I was wearing were button fly, rather than with a zipper, and I was wearing a belt. I made what seemed to be a reasonable decision to leave my belt fastened and my top button done and then unbuttoned elsewhere.

Things went just fine (I've had a fair bit of practice peeing in my day) until... they didn't. I felt a "pop" under my belt immediately after I completed my act and looked down and my top button was gone.

The pants I was wearing were a bit old, and, being a bit old myself, I know that old things have a tendency to fall apart. I sighed heavily (the struggle is real) and buttoned up my fly and was determined to find the button so I could reattach it at some point in the future.

The first place I looked just happened to be the place where it was... in the toilet.

At this point I had a bit of a quandary. The button on a pair of pants that I was wearing was sitting in a toilet half-full with fluid that had been in my body until about 15 seconds prior. For some reason I was without rubber gloves, and I was loathe to reach into my own piss ... but I really wanted that button!

So, once again, I sighed heavily and made the decision to be forever unclean in order to get a seventeen cent button. I was NOT going to be paralyzed by fear or the smell of my own pee. I was going to overcome the paradox of choice.

I bent over, reaching down with my left hand, when the toilet flushed.

Somehow I had triggered the sensor and the fresh water whisked the button away forever. Some sewer crocodile has probably choked on it by now.

Do I miss the button, fuck yeah, I miss the button. But it's very nice to be able to tell this story without ever having actually covered my hand in urine.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Blowing up her spot

I knew what this blog was going to be--relaying an encounter with a woman I had some nights back--but I was unsure of the structure around the story. But I think I've got it. Here goes.

I like women. I know that is not a bold statement and it's not one that should surprise anyone (although it sometimes takes some convincing, depending on what I'm wearing at the time). In order to understand why I have this story to tell, though, it's important to understand that as the foundation.

Further, to distance myself from the otherwise internally consistent and logical conclusion that I am a shallow misogynist (which I am not; any antisocial tendencies are deep and not specific to one particular group except MAYBE dudes in their early 20's who wear backwards baseball caps and flip-flops everywhere they go), I have to distinguish different aspects of my admiration for the female humans. I will do so by pulling out two Woody Allen quotes:

I love you! I... I want you in a way of cherishing your... your... your totality and your otherness, and... and in the sense of a presence, and a being, and a whole coming and a going in a room with grapefruit, and... and love of a thing of nature in a sense of not wanting or being jealous of the thing that a person possesses.
 and
I like pretty girls. I'm old-fashioned that way.



"Liking women," then, can be intellectual/emotional connection or can be a physical draw. This blog post is (once we get through the voluminous  prologue) about physical attraction.

I like women.

I like their hair. I like their eyebrows. I like their eyes. I like their noses. I like their smiles and their teeth. I like their breasts and their stomachs and their butts and their hips. I like their legs and their ankles. I like the way they dress, including their shoes.

This is not to say that I like all of those bits and pieces on every woman. And it's not to say there aren't other places and things related to a woman that I enjoy, but it makes for a relatively comprehensive list, generously laid out in general top-to-bottom order for easy reference. You're welcome.

Several nights ago, I discovered a new way I like women: I like their backs.

How did I discover this? I saw an amazing back.

I was at Hula Hula with friends and the aforementioned Amazing Back Lady was there, too. She had a drink and sang a song and then sat back down at her spot, alone. She was also wearing some kind of amazing sweater/top thing that exposed a generous portion of her back to great effect.


Whether it was the alcohol or the intoxicating presence of her back, I approached her at some point. We had a good five minute conversation or so, in which I complimented her back (I live like Sarbanes-Oxley applies to social engagements, for the most part) and which went, I thought, pretty well.

My friends and I were leaving for the evening, and so I wrapped up our conversation... which took an unexpected, blog-inducing turn. It went something like this:
Me: So... I had fun talking.
Amazing Back Lady: Yeah. Me, too.
Me: I'd love to hang out sometime. Maybe get a drink and food or something?
ABL: (slightly wincing) ...
Me: Umm... OK. Let's see. Do you have a boyfriend?
ABL: Yes.
Me: Do you like boys?
ABL: Yes.
Me: Did you have a good enough time talking to me to do it again sometime?
ABL: Yes, but...
Me: (trying to put on a charming smile) A ringing endorsement, indeed!
ABL: Haha. Yeah, I do, but... you haven't bought me a drink.
Me: (feeling my smile fade) Oh...
ABL: Yeah, you haven't bought me a drink.
Me: I don't do that for people I don't know. Sorry. I'll buy you drinks and food or whatever you want if/when we go out, but... yeah.
ABL: OK.
(Number given)
Me: OK, cool. I gotta run, but it was fun meeting you and I look forward to seeing you again.
ABL: The thing about the drink is that you've been blowing up my spot for ten minutes and...
Walking away from people when they're in the middle of telling you something is rude. In fact, I find it to be one of the least tolerable things people can do in polite society (along with wearing backwards baseball caps and flip-flops in public). I can't remember the last time I physically turned from someone and walked away when they were telling me something.

Oh, wait... I do remember now: it was when Amazing Back Lady was acting like we were hanging out in a strip club and her manager was going to yell at her for not having dudes buying her enough drinks.

So... Amazing Back Lady not only taught me that I can be thoroughly fascinated by a woman's back... she also taught me that I'm not fascinated enough to buy a drink due to it OR put up with bullshit after I'm unwilling to do so.

If she'd had amazing legs, on the other hand...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Conversation Dehydration

I know this woman. We’ll call her Sunshine. I met Sunshine while I was on a date with her friend some time ago and I was … impressed. But she had a boyfriend (kind of… maybe… I don’t know) and I was on a date with her friend.

Fast forward several months. I’d not been on another date with her friend. She’d become fully single. I sent her a message on Facebook, asking her out for a drink and she demurred.

("To demur" means, by the way, to politely refuse a suggestion… and she was very nice, very polite, and very classy about saying “no”... but I didn't take it as her saying “never".)

A bit more time passed, and this past weekend I was at a club with friends. Sunshine was there and I had an opportunity to speak to her a couple of times. She looked great and I think I successfully managed not to stare too much in our first conversation. She talked about how she preferred to hang out in person, and that she used Facebook for work. She also managed to slip in, though, that she sometimes is amused by my Facebook wall. And she repeated “sometimes” with a smirk. I tried to keep my poker face on a bit but nodded and said I’d see her later and took my drink (which I would shortly thereafter drop in its entirety on the floor) and headed off.

The second time when we spoke, then, I was feeling pretty good about things. Maybe it was merely that I’d had enough alcohol to be incapable of reliably grasping a full glass of rum and diet, but I felt good.

Sunshine and I bumped into each other in line for the restroom and we’d said one or two things when another woman came up. We had a conversation that … could have gone better. It went something like this:

Woman: Hi Sunshine!
Sunshine: Hi. This is my friend Ed.
Woman: Hi Ed!
Me: Hey there.
Woman: (to Sunshine) Ooh… he’s great!
Sunshine: OK… ?
Woman: So… why haven’t you introduced me to him before?
Sunshine: Um…
Woman: How long have you guys been going out?
Sunshine: ...

It all happened in slow motion. It all happened so fast. The woman had not only forced Sunshine to deny everything (including, but not limited to, any interest in me) but also forced me to watch Sunshine’s face as she did so.

It went something like this:


"Hi, Sunshine!"
 

"Ooh… he’s great!"

"So… why haven’t you introduced me to him before?"

"How long have you guys been going out?"

Yes, Sunshine went from a plump emotional grape to a shriveled social raisin over the course of that brief conversation. It was conversation dehydration.

For better or worse, it was my turn to use the restroom. I stepped in and didn't see Sunshine the rest of the night. I'm sure she was back to her normal grape-y self in no time. 

As for me? I shrugged and got some more rum and told myself that at least I'd gotten a blog post idea out of it...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Super-Apples and Oranges

I like words.

I like using them as crutches insofar as quotes and phrases and cliches all carry more meaning than the individual words do on their own. Actually, since most words mean more than one thing, I guess a phrase like, "Live long and prosper" could mean many things examined atomically ("live" means both happening in real time as well as the command form of "to live"; "long" is both a verb and an adjective, etc.) but the trees would not portray the forest of Mr. Spock, Star Trek, and all of the other cultural context inherent--and generally understood--in those words.

I like kicking those crutches out from under people, too. Puns and silly alliteration and other plays on words are fun for me and sometimes they're even funny for people to whom I'm communicating. Establishing and subsequently betraying expectations is, along with getting kicked in the groin, one of the bedrocks of comedy. I make no claim to be hilarious (at least not in this space, with Obama watching) but I know a bit about funny. I think. Maybe.

Phrases that we all know are like shortcuts. Part of their genius is that we don't need to think of why they mean what they mean. We don't need to dissect them to get to truth.

He's champing at the bit.

She's dressed to the nines.

Let's cut a rug.

Etc., etc.

You don't NEED to know it's "champing", rather than "chomping". You don't need to know wtf "the nines". You get it.

It's interesting, though, to sometimes examine a particular phrase and dissect it a bit. And I'm going to do that here with a phrase that's even more obvious than the four I listed above.

It's apples and oranges.

Simple, right? You can't compare them. Apples are one fruit, oranges are another. One is sweet with a skin you can eat and one is sweet/tart with a peel you need to, uh, peel.

They both grown on trees. You can drink juice made from each of them.

But they're apples and oranges.

Strictly speaking, you CAN substitute one for the other. You CAN prefer one over the other.

If we wanted to have things that you can't really do that with, it seems the phrase could be "It's like apples and a Nobel Prize" or "It's like Batman and oranges".

So, assuming we can substitute one for the other, it seems that the point is that one fruit offers something that the other either does not or does not in the same degree.

(Let's treat this as if consumers believe that more is always better, OK? I know some people don't LIKE things that are too sweet, but this is a thought experiment and fruit could be substituted for people, with the axes being, say, sense of humor and education level. Whatever.)

[graph: apple and orange on "Sweet" and "Tart" axes]

In this case, a consumer of fruit can decide which of the attributes they prefer. Each consumer might value the two benefits differently, and even at different time (think: impending scurvy), and so while "apples and oranges" is cliche for not being able to be compared, they are actually pretty good options for different people and/or at different times. Just because there's not a single final answer of which is better doesn't mean they can't be compared.

Compare that to, say, an apple and a super-apple. I just made the super-apple up, but imagine that it looked something like this:

[graph: apple and super-apple on "Sweet" and "Tart" axes]

Again, assuming "more is better", the super-apple is the superior choice for all people at all times. The super-apple renders the apple obsolete.

But there's no "apples and super-apples" cliche.

I thought up this rambling partially as a result of watching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World the other night. It was the 124th time I've seen it (roughly), and the line that stuck with me this time was after the protagonist gets dumped for another guy and his friend said, "That's probably just because he's better than you."

Scott Pilgrim was the apple and he'd met a super-apple.

When I ponder the women that have chosen others over me, I wonder if they are oranges or if they are super-apples. I wonder if, whatever the woman saw in me they saw MORE of in the other guy, or if they simply saw other things that they preferred to my things.

Which would I prefer?

Why do I worry about it?

More importantly, why am I writing about it?

I guess I just don't have that much else to do.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Scotland: Day 4 Part II

So there I was. 3:00 AM in Inverness, Scotland. Drunk but not too-drunk, feeling victorious over the powers of Original B, and standing on steps outside a bar, trying to figure out if I could find something interesting to do before I went back to my hotel and caught the train back to Edinburgh at 10 AM.

Pretty standard stuff. I'm sure you've been there yourself.

Well, fortunately (although unfortunately for you, if you don't care for this blog entry) something did happen.

And, as is so often the case, it started with conversation with a female.

She was brunette and a bit plump, perhaps. But she dressed sort of provocatively (although, maybe from your perspective, "And she was dressed sort of sluttily") and I said something. Or she said something. Personal space was pleasantly and flirtateously invaded. And she invited me back to her place.

OK. Cool. There's a first time for everything, right?

...

So, yeah.

I said, "Why not?" to myself and then I said, "Why not?" to her. She turned to her  female friend and the guy who seemed to be with the other chick, grabbed my hand, and led us away from the bar.

Awesome. Nothing could ever go wrong, right? I'm a fucking AMERICAN, people! Nothing untoward could possibly happen.

We got into line, waiting for a cab, and both of the women were talking about how awesome my accent was and the Other Guy was sort of stewing in the background. I knew he wasn't pleased with the situation, and when Other Chick kissed me rather thoroughly in front of the First Chick and Other Guy, it was simultaneously thrilling and foreboding. She giggled and said something about me biting her lip.

I got into the cab with them. Whatever.

Now, there's something about me you need to know (other than that I'll kiss a perfect stranger in front of someone who very well might be her boyfriend, assuming I'm in a foreign country and have had enough to drink AND she kisses me first) ... I have a terrible sense of direction. Without GPS I am horrible with directions. With GPS I pass. But barely. I get an F+.

"Get lost for three hours after taking a wrong turn in the streets of Evanston on my first day of college"-horrible. "Wander the streets of Honolulu blindly and confusedly until the sun comes up"-horrible.

Horrible.

So when I got into the cab, setting aside any weird conversations that might have been happening (more on that in a moment) and setting aside the booze in my system: I didn't pay attention. And if I had paid attention it wouldn't have mattered.

After the cab ride of about 10 minutes (give or take five minutes) I had no idea where we were. Somewhere relatively close to Inverness but not IN Inverness. It was sort of a rural/suburban housing development-type situation. I didn't really think about how lost I was.

Part of the reason that I didn't think about it is because First Chick started arguing with me almost immediately once we got into the cab.

She asked me how old I was, and I told her. She was FLABBERGASTED that I was so old, and asserted that I had told her I was some 15 years younger than I, in fact, was.

After putting up with Original B in the bar, I really was in no mood to apologize or put up with any kind of crazy. So I pointedly told her she was wrong, that I'd never mentioned my age before, etc.

We got out of the cab and she was chirping at me the whole way. Other Guy and Other Chick got out, too, and we went to First Chick's house and within four or five minutes, she told me to get out.

Get out?

Of her house?

In the middle of not-Inverness, after the Taxi had left?

Yep.

So I shook my head (for the nine hundredth time that night, seemingly) and trudged out. I wished them all well and I went outside her house and contemplated what to do next.

I think I knew the first turn to make out of her driveway, but I wasn't sure. And my phone was at about 12% battery, so it wasn't going to be able to reliably get me back to the hotel. I had no idea how to call a taxi.

And I was NOT going to back to ask for help.

So I stood there. And after a minute she opened the door, came out, and apologized. She invited me back in.

OK. Great. But then she started complaining about how her boyfriend had just left her for a younger woman a week prior. I tried to be sympathetic, but I must have said the wrong thing because I was asked to get out AGAIN... literally within 10 minutes of being asked back in.

At this point, I looked over at Other Guy. I wanted a sanity check. I wanted some support. I wanted some empathy.

But then I remembered that I'd sorta made out with the chick he had his arm around, and I knew there would be no solace from that corner.

So, once again, I made my way outside confusedly. My phone was below 10%. And I was flustered. Not mad, but just ... befuddled. Flummoxed. Other synonyms.

Guess what happened then?

Go on. Guess.

She came out AGAIN. Invited me in AGAIN.

It was the weirdest thing. Or the second-weirdest.

The weirdest? What happened next is the weirdest.

I came back in. Other Guy and Other Girl had gone into another room, probably to have schadenfreude sex, and I almost IMMEDIATELY kicked a kid's toy that was by a couch.

First Chick did not like this. First Chick was convinced I had kicked a poor kid's toy because I was angry or a bad person or whatever. I actually had kicked it because I didn't see it and the room was a fucking pigsty.

I deigned to apologize, but I basically knew what was coming. I was booted again.

And this time? There was no invitation to re-enter.

It was 4:55 in the AM and I was lost and my phone was dying and I had to get back to catch my train at 10:00. And I really had to pee.

Somehow, some way, I made my way back. I checked Google Maps every so often. I dramatically restricted my picture taking... which is tough, because it felt like I was wandering through the Shire.


But I eventually made it to the outskirts of the city. And then to the street I needed. And finally to my hotel and my bed.

I packed my stuff, made sure the front desk would give me a wakeup call, and fell asleep at around 8:00. Plenty of time to get an hour of sleep AND catch my train. Just like I'd planned.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Scotland: Day 4 Part I

(Quick note: I took a trip to Scotland in April, 2014. After spending an amazingly long time not writing about it, and forgetting which friends I'd told which stories to, I decided to post my experiences over the next few days. I am not back-dating these entries, but know that they occurred last year and that I am not writing intentionally with the benefit of eight months of hindsight.)


Day four, Sunday, started off with a massive bit of sleeping. I rolled out of my hotel room around 2:00, got food (from McDonald's... that's authentic Scottish cuisine, right?), and wandered the Earth. Or at least I walked around for a few hours.

I visited another cemetery. I saw a weird store that seemed to have American junk food as its focus. I had a delicious dinner with a waiter who was utterly incapable of working my autofocusing cameraphone.



And when I was done wandering: I had absolutely no idea what to do next.

The previous three nights had been rather structured, with the serendipitous karaoke bar and then back-to-back nights of amazing-music-I-love awesomeness.

But there I was, around 8:00 with only "go out drinking" as my plan. And it was Saturday night.

What could I do? I had to go out drinking.

I went to several bars (way more bars than I would have guessed a 72,000 person town would have had). I think that I ended up going to about six bars/clubs that night. It was nuts.

One was a great mix of men and women, gender-wise, but it had the strangest age distribution I've ever seen. Specifically, it was young women and old men. As an old man and a fan of young women, I am generally in favor of this, but I think I need to use italics to say they were old men. It was so odd that I feel compelled to create this ultra-scientific chart to communicate the reality:



It was, perhaps, the most alien I felt on my whole trip. Not only were they all speaking with heavy accents, and not only were they dressed like they last shopped in 2003... semi-serious American metropolitan snobbery aside, the age distribution just blew my mind. Old guys being flirted with by women half their age. It might happen in Seattle, too (and, in fact, I wouldn't mind being there when it did!), but in its totality the scene was very odd.

It might have been that, for once on my trip, I was more sober than everyone else. I was playing catch-up, but we're talking "Someone call an ambulance, Earl fell down the stairs and cracked his head open"-level of drunk. I took the arrival of the paramedics as a good time for me to leave.

A couple of bars later, I went to one that  had the best jukebox I've ever seen. Not that I've seen THAT many jukeboxes, but this one will be tough to beat by any ones I see in the future. I think it was, like, connected to the Internet or something and it had songs I'd never seen on a jukebox before. I actually ended up txting a couple of friends about it that night, which shows you how oddly excited I was.

I also, not surprisingly given the intimate nature of Inverness, saw a couple of the same people I'd seen at the OMYW ("Old men, young women") bar... by this time, I'd had enough booze to be more conversational and, shockingly, the women had transformed into more attractive creatures.

Also not surprisingly, I said something wrong--or did something wrong, or something--when I approached a pair of ladies from the OMYW place. I received the coldest shoulder I received the entire time I was in Scotland. After determining, internally, that I was a couple of decades too young for their tastes, I finished my drink and went to the next place.

The next place turned out to be a club that was simultaneously the most empty and most discotech-like I've ever entered.

As I sat in a booth, talking to two kind but plain women, I sipped on another couple of drinks and marveled at the lights in the floor and how the place was still open in spite of being almost entirely empty. It was a Sunday night/Monday morning, but the place had a fog machine up and running! It was kind of amazing, but I needed to keep on moving.


Eventually, after another stop or two, I settled in a bar that was right around the corner from my hotel... to be fair, everything was pretty close to my hotel.

This place was odd. It was odd in at least two ways:

  • It had two distinct wings. I don't know if they had two buildings that they simply merged by knocking a wall down or what, but two distinct bar areas existed, and there were few places where you could move (or even see) between the two spaces.
  • I got cut off.
I have, or, rather had, never EVER been cut off by a bartender. I've almost certainly deserved to be, but I never had been.

We need a map. Each number on the map corresponds with part of my little story, below.

When I approached a bartender in the "left" wing of the bar for a (presumably last for the evening) drink, she did the unthinkable: she said no. (See: location 1 on the map.)

Now, granted: I should be used to hearing "no" from women. The monosyllabic expression is so omnipresent in my life that I often liken it to a throbbing social tinnitus.

"No, I don't want to go out with you again"? OK.
"No, I prefer not to watch more Tim & Eric"? Fine.
"No, I won't invite her to join us in bed"? Understandable.

But "No, I won't serve you more alcohol"?

That just confuses me. The words all make sense individually, but strung together, they are gibberish. "No, orange DVD air or ponytail" would have resonated with me at the same level.

After I parsed out her meaning, which I'll admit is rather straightforward on the surface, even accounting for her funny-talking ways, I think I strung together a series of statements and queries that ranged from, "What?" to "Why?" and "Huh?" and "Are you kidding? I'm not even that drunk..."

But she would not be swayed.

So I shook my head in disappointment (in her, as a human, even more than in my lack of more alcohol) but I didn't give up.

Her bar was an island. Not emotionally, as far as I could tell, but a bar surrounded by potential patrons. So I simply walked to the other side of the island and ordered from another bartender. (Location 2.)

Or a tried to.

Instead, Original B saw my efforts and cut across the area and told me I couldn't have a drink.

It still didn't make sense to me, but I was starting to get a bit peeved.

I performed a tactical retreat, though, and moved to the other wing of the establishment. I wandered to the right wing and, upon entering, stood there, waiting to order. (Location 3.)

30 seconds later, a bouncer tapped me on the shoulder and said that I wasn't supposed to have more. I must have made an "Are you shitting me?" face because he shrugged and pointed back to the other wing, where Original B had a DIRECT line of sight to where I was standing (one of the only connectors between the two wings) and I shook my head. Defeated.

Seemingly.

I slumped my shoulders and walked down the bar, towards the exit in the right wing. I slowed. I looked around for Original B and the bouncer. They were nowhere to be found. So I ordered another drink. (Location 4.) And tipped the SHIT out of the bartender that served me.

Success!

As the semi-foul liquid slid down my throat strange thoughts popped into my head (am I right, ladies?)... did I just want to drink the alcohol? Or did I want more?

Obviously, I want more. Because I will never get my comeuppance.

So I downed about 80% of it and walked back up along the bar, turning left towards the Original B's bar.

I spied her and I put a big smile on my face and I finished my drink. And I slammed the glass down in front of her immediately after. (Location 5.)

At that point, I moved REALLY quickly to get the fuck out of the bar. I don't know if she was rolling her eyes or sputtering indignantly or lighting up the "kick the American's ass" bat-signal, but I wasn't gonna wait around to find out.

I made it outside (location 6) without incident. I was not tackled. No one threw anything at me. I did not fall down (see? Not that drunk!). I escaped.

But I didn't keep walking to my hotel room. It might have been three o'clock in the morning, but I had about seven hours before I had to catch my train back to Edinburgh, and I wanted to see if Inverness had more adventure for me.

And it did.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Scotland: Day 3

(Quick note: I took a trip to Scotland in April, 2014. After spending an amazingly long time not writing about it, and forgetting which friends I'd told which stories to, I decided to post my experiences over the next few days. I am not back-dating these entries, but know that they occurred last year and that I am not writing intentionally with the benefit of eight months of hindsight.)

Day 2 ended with much rum and the company of two very nice Scots. But not much sleep.

In spite of my lack of rest, I had a plan. To wit:
Thursday: arrive in Edinburgh. Nap. Go out drinking.
Friday: wander the neighborhood. Nap. Show starts at 7:30.
Saturday: train to Inverness. Show starts around 9:00.
Sunday: wander the neighborhood. Nap. Go out drinking.
Monday: train to Edinburgh. Wander the neighborhood. Nap. Go out drinking.
Tuesday: wander the neighborhood. Nap. Go out drinking.
Wednesday: fly back to Seattle.
It was Saturday at this point.

Inverness is a town about 150 miles north of Edinburgh. It's got a population of a bit over 72,000 and it's near Loch Ness. And it has a bar called Hootananny/Mad Hatters that was going to be featuring Dropkick that night.

I somehow managed to get up, get packed, and check out of the hotel without incident. The train ride (in spite of cramped seating due to some dude who kept bumping knees with me) was amazing. It went through the Cairngorms National Park and I felt like I was really experiencing the highlands. Or at least speeding through them. It was fantastic.

I got to the train station in Inverness and it was a short walk to my hotel room. The hotel wasn't quite as nice as the one I'd been in Edinburgh, but it didn't have funny red strings that confused me, and it was just as walkable to things that I wanted to get to.

Fortunately I had time for a quick nap, and then I met the guys for dinner. I had haggis again (it was served differently than I'd had it the first night, but still delicious).

Most importantly, I got to talk to the guys. They were kind and quirky and I had a great time... I think that I got to talk more about Teenage Fanclub over that meal than I had in the past five years.

After dinner they invited me to hang out for sound check and I accepted delightedly so we moved outside to their cars, where they had their instruments and amps and such. As we began our schlepping (I was happily helping carry their stuff!), a couple waddled towards us on the sidewalk.

(Maybe it wasn't a waddle... perhaps it was a stagger. Or somewhere in between. In any event, they appeared to have had more to drink by 7:00 than they should have.) Our conversation went something like this:

Woman: Are you guys in a band?
Dropkick #1: Yes we are.
Woman: Oh, yeah? What's the band?
Dropkick #1: Dropkick.
Woman: ... hmm. What kind of music do you play?
Me: Alt-country power pop!
Woman: ... ?
Me: Well, they're a little like Teenage Fanclub or Wilco.
Woman: ... ?
Me: Influenced by Big Star, I think.
Woman: ... ?
Me: C'mon. Alex Chilton? Chris Bell?
Dropkick #2: Ed, you are evil.
Woman: ... ?
Dropkick #1: We sound a little like the Beatles.
Woman: Ah. Ok.
I was not helpful... but it was fun.

Sound check was fun. I got to talk to them as they got all set up and then, as people started arriving and the opening act took the stage, we went across the street to a teeny tiny bar and they bought me a nice Scotch.

The show was fantastic. More people than the night before and no one complaining about me being too loud.

After the show the space sort of converted to a dance club and we spent more time hanging out and talking and people watching.

Around 3:30, I walked the two blocks back to my hotel and collapsed in my bed, exhausted but happy.