Flashback - 1999: Expedition Scotland
Page 5

Day 4: Friday - December 3rd, 1999 (Part II)

The Jury WAS Inn, and they found me innocent of everything but being awesome!

Around the corner and just up the hill and I found myself in front of the Jury's Inn. The place looked very nice, newish, and clean — needless to say I looked totally out of place there. I did not give even one shit about my appearance though. Instead I went up to the front desk (another cute Scottish lass was behind it... They must have known I was coming), got my room key (which happened very quickly since Katie must've made me a reservation via the computer she was banging on while talking to me), and then went upstairs to find my room. After collapsing on the bed for a few minutes I remembered the Colonel and the crew! Shit, I thought, I'll have to warn them that I wouldn't be meeting them at the Cambridge train terminal that night... And come to think of it, fuck the next morning too. I had JUST arrived in Scotland and I was going to fucking DO something while I was there... Something other than just heading back to Edinburgh Station.

So I used my phone card that I had picked up the previous day in London and called the number to the Colonel's professor's house that they were going to be staying in... Noone answered, and soon it clicked over to the answering machine.

"Hey, Colonel, guys, it's me... I hope this is Mr. [whatever his name was]'s number... If not, ignore this. Oh! Or if you know him, please pass this along to him. It's important. My name is--" *CLICK* Goddamn British voice mail boxes are small. I tried again.

"This is the Rossman, this message is for [whatever his name was] and the Colonel. I won't be stopping in Cambridge because the train broke down and I just got here now, and this is kind of sucking, and I thought--" *CLICK*

"Goddamn stupid machine! Sorry, but seriously, this is just retarded. Don't try to meet me at the station, I won't be there, I'll just... Screw it, I'll just meet you all at the airport on Sunday. Later guys!" Actually, it clicked off again before I could finish "Later." And I was really speaking fast by that time too. I guess when your country's biggest technological achievement is a Mini Cooper, you really can't expect much out of their electronic messaging systems. And I know it was British because it sucked.

Me, out
That's my ass — I'd know it anywhere — but I don't know how I got this picture. I figure it was either taken by that Travelocity gnome (who's been stalking me for half my life, and who has an uncaring attitude about breaking into hotel rooms), or some fellow guests at The Jury's Inn who happened upon my open room door right after I collapsed on my bed after just getting there. I'm not really all that creeped out, just glad that they then left the camera after snapping the shutter. Thank you, anonymous hotel guest. Always wanted a shot of my beautiful butt in a Scottish hotel room.

After that I was free from any commitment and I went down to the concierge desk to see if they could help me with A) Food; B) Touristy shit; and C) Getting back to London the next day. The lad behind the counter didn't hold my grubby appearance against me, and he joyfully helped me out on all three.

"Aye, sir, if y'in don't mind me braggin', we have one of the top restaurants in the area right here inside The Jury's Inn. Always a seat ready for ye, decent prices, and as ye requested it's got some really fine native cuisine. Oh, an' if yuir only in town for a day, ye'll haffta check out Edinburgh Castle. It'll take ye about half a day to see it all, an' tha's only if ye rush through it at a *Scottish gibberish that I couldn't decipher* pace. Oh, an' as fer yuir last bit, aye, I kin take care o' yuir return trip to London right'n here...." He typed a bit at his computer, and I don't know how I kept from passing out from pure exhaustion.

"Here we go, sir," he eventually continued, still smiling. "There's plenty o' room on the 2 o'clock return t'London. Would that be workin' for ye, sir?"

I had already known that I had to hit Edinburgh Castle (the giftshop there is apparently the only place in the world that sells these little silver, gold, and pewter historical figures, keychains, and other Scottish things that my family collects), but that he solved all of my problems in one fell swoop just made me want to either punch him in the shoulder while declaring, "You the man now, dog!" or give him a wet, full kiss on his masculine, rugged, Scottish lips... I got confused, kissed him, called him my dog, and then punched him out. When he wouldn't wake up I made sure I got all the security tapes from that night, and then I headed over to the hotel's restaurant/bar.

It was a nice restaurant, but I only had time for one quick local brew at the bar before being ushered down the hall to a small back-up room that doubled as the eatery that night, due to the fact that a party was being put together at the time. All the decorations, balloons, and food being prepared reminded me just how unbelievably hungry (and festive!) I was, so I followed the hostess who took me down to the auxiliary restaurant with no arguments — the less I argued or questioned the sooner I got a menu and then food.

I'm afraid of Americans myself... Just LOOK at me!The room was tiny and un-decorated. No pictures on the walls and just one small window that I sat right next to. It looked like a tiny conference room, and it probably was. There was already some uppity, tweedy, intellectual-type already in there looking down at his plate (and everything else) like there was something on the tip of his nose. It was amazing! One look and I loathed the guy more than Jimmy Jammer. We sat a table apart and I started staring at the guy like I was just one twitch away from hurling my cutlery at him like a circus freak. He was pretty bright and finished up as quickly as possible. For some reason I just KNEW that he would sound like Basil Fawlty when he talked, and when he asked for the check and proceeded to lecture our cute little waitress for "letting any ole' wasserface in," while gesturing frantically at me the whole while, I knew I got my impression of him spot on. Die in a fire, Basil-wannabe asshole guy.

Anyway, the cute waitress was quick to help me get something solid into my belly. I ordered the Beef and Guinness Pie (only because it had the word "Guinness" in the title), some veggies that slip my mind, and another pint of the local beer on the side. I dove into that plate like an Irishman into another Irishman — I practically licked it clean, just like the previously mentioned two Irishmen. I ordered two more pints of the good stuff, and followed everything down with a Creme Brulee for dessert. At least I think that's what I ordered... I'm not 100% sure. What I AM 100% sure about is that I know for a fact that I told my waitress the following two jokes (when she didn't in fact ask for them):

A man walks into a pub, and the bartender looks down and says, "Excuse me, sir, but it appears that you have a steering wheel coming out of your fly hole." And the man says, "I know! IT'S DRIVING ME NUTS!"

And (the one that Chi-Chi stole from me since I first told it to him)...

So this man walks into a pub and orders a drink from the bartender. The man's just quietly sipping at his pint when a strange old fucker with a grizzled beard and an old, smelly coat wanders up and sits next to him. Without even an introduction the second man says to the first guy, "Aye, you see that fence outside the window, lad?" The first man looks, nods and says, "Yeah, what of it?" The second man says, "I build that fence, with me bare 'ands! Took me 6 months to do it proper! It's 4 kilometers long, and it's sturdy! I've built hundreds of fences across the land... But they don't call me 'MacKracken the fence-maker' now do they?..." The smelly man takes a shot of whiskey.

The first man goes back to his own drink. Soon though, he hears, "Aye, d'ya see that orphanage outside that window?" The bearded man then points out another window to a huge, stone orphanage about a half mile away. "Yeah, I see it." "I built that orphanage meself! Stone by stone, I labored for 2 years on it! It houses 50 children, and it's solid as a fortress! I've built dozens of orphanages across the land... But they don't call me 'MacKracken the orphanage-mason' now do they?..." The smelly man takes yet another shot of whiskey. "Umm, no, I guess not," is all the first man can think of to say.

The first man drinks a bit more of his pint, but he keeps an eye on the man next to him now. He's not surprised when the grizzled man soon barks out, "Aye, laddie, kin'ya see all those fishin' boats all tied up to the pier outside that window?" he points. "I built them all! They're 'uge, and they'll last a good man a lifetime if treated properly!... But they don't call me 'MacKracken the ship-builder' now do they?..... BUT YE FUCK ONE GOAT!"

Oh, you touch my tra-la-la...I did my best to emulate a Scottish brogue while fully acting out both jokes. I thought I was at the top of my game, but I don't think my petite waitress thought the same. What tipped me off is after I forced the new girl behind the front desk to take our picture together (see shot on the right) my cutie waitress dropped to one knee and proceeded to go all Raging Bull on me wedding tackle. Then she ran back towards the kitchen while screaming "RAPE!" as I lie on the floor drunk, vomitty, and trying to remember how women in labor breathe in an attempt to not soil myself. I am so glad I didn't tell her either "The Aristocrats" or the original "Chi-Chi" joke too.

Scotland Is All Relative

I did my best to clean myself up in my room. By then I was finally full (contentedly so), kind of sloshed, and I had just gotten my third wind back in me, so I decided to see if there was something going on in town that I could do. Before I was even able to leave the hotel though I heard the fantastically awesome ruckus coming from the bar and restaurant area just around the corner from the front desk. I went to investigate to see what the party (that displaced me to the makeshift dining room earlier in the evening) was really all about. I stuck my head in the main entrance and the place was really hopping. The lights were down, there were balloons and confetti everywhere, loud music blaring, and people drinking and drinking and drinking. There were old and young people there, and so much noise and distraction was going on that nobody seemed to notice me joining the fray.

I went to the less crowded end of the bar and asked the bartender what the party was for. He looked at me questioningly but then must have figured "what the fuck," and he answered that it was a family reunion for the..... Fuck! It's gone. I cannae remember the name of the family for the life of me lovely sheep. But that's of no matter, all you need to know is that I turned right around and just dove head first into the festivities.

It was an open bar, and soon nobody remembered that I wasn't always there — thank Christ on a crutch that I stopped trying to act all Scottish relatively early, and I soon started just pretending that I was an American cousin (twice removed) there to see how real Scots partied. I had drinking contests with two older gents (both of whom kicked my ass at it, but who cares! Free booze!), played darts with a bunch of lads me own age, and started getting all frisky with a very cute lass named Ina who I finally convinced that because I was 4th or 5th removed from her father's brother that it was alright to neck with me in the corner.

After about an hour of festivities though I made a terrible mistake... I pulled out my camera. I only had time to take one picture of the party before some short little guy (who was a lot less drunk than me) came barreling through the crowd to the origin of the flash that lit the place up like a lightning bolt from one of his old country's heathen gods.

FLASH! Ahh-aaaahhhhh! Savior of the universe!
Thinking back on it, mine was the only photo flash in the place the whole night; I can see how that tipped them off, but honestly WHY was I the only one taking pictures? Even if they had this reunion every year wouldn't you think somebody'd want to memorialize THIS one THIS year? Or did all the cameras that everybody brought that day fall into alcohol earlier? That's probably the most likely scenario knowing this clan.

"Wha' inna hell deyea think yuir doin', boyo?!" He only came up to my chin, but his spittle reached my eyes. I wiped off his words from my cheek and made the mistake of trying to be a full-blown Scotsman again.

"Are ye daft, man?!" I questioned right back at Short Round. "I'm jus' trrryin' ta capture the moment on the devil's soul-stealin' instrument of damnation 'ere. Got a pro'lem wi' tha'?"

Apparently he did as he called two very large men over at that time (I only came up to one of their chins), and they did their best to escort me out without making a scene. I didn't want to make a scene myself (it was a fun party, and I didn't want to ruin it for those who were there legitimately), so I left quietly and with a smile on my face. I even apologized to the bigger of the two men who led me outside and then he nodded and tipped his hat to me... Or maybe that was just a rude Scottish gesture — I never did find out. Anyway, as the two of them returned to the warmth of the party I looked around and noticed that it was snowing pretty heavily. Holy fuck! I was in Scotland and it was snowing. The first in my family to see Scottish snow since my Grammy left the motherland in the 1930s!

I started running around and sliding on the slick sidewalk, and after a bit there was enough accumulation to actually start making snowballs. I learned this after getting beaned by one thrown from a group of 3 kids who were hiding behind a car laughing at my drunken escapades. A fairly large snowball fight then commenced (It wasn't as cheesy or as staged as the one in Groundhog Day, but just where the fuck were those kids' parents? Honestly, their kids just picked a fight with a scary-looking foreigner out in the dark streets, fairly late at night! If those children had tried that in New York City they'd have been knifed and in a dumpster before they could have said "Oh shi--"). The kids called me "English swine" and themselves (all of them apparently) "William Wallace." At first Willy was kicking my ass but good (I even got some snow down my pants... which is always a horrible experience), but after a few minutes Ina came out from the party (she never stated it outright, but I'm guessing she was looking for me) and quickly joined my side. After we whipped the kids into surrender I declared that Scotland had fought valiantly, and would therefore be considered free in the eyes of the British crown... Two of the punks slunk away after that, but the third (who was pelted by Ina right in his left eye just about a minute before) wouldn't stop sobbing (the world's snottiest and most fake cry you'd ever seen or heard). Ina thought this was hilarious and she started belly-laughing at the lad (she was bent over at one point), and then the snot-nosed puke tried to step on our feet. We were too quick for him though, and Ina lightly booted him on his fanny as he hastily retreated.

After that Ina and I both became obviously aware of the fact that we were cold and wet, and you can really only run around while it's snowing for so long before you realize that crystallized water droplets falling to the earth in big white flakes really aren't as awe inspiring as you originally thought they may have been. So then we went back to my room. After we dried ourselves up a little, I turned on the TV (out of habit), and for once was glad that I initially ignored the woman in my company for the friendship of the boob tube. There, on the screen, was the most twisted and bizarre show I'd ever seen before. I honestly couldn't tell if it was a horror or a comedy show. I tuned in what must have been halfway through the episode of whatever it was, and there was this farmer talking to a scarecrow out in his barren fields like they were good buddies. The LEAGUEThen it's revealed that there's really a man tied up and gagged behind the scarecrow facade, and the farmer leaves him again after a few anti-encouraging words. Soon two blonde little schoolgirls come skipping along and get instructions from the scarecrow man that they need to run and get help, but they refuse because if they do then the man will be free. They know all about how he was having an affair with the farmer's wife, and how the farmer told the wife that the man left town for good, but he was really strung up in the vegetable garden... But they can't let him go free, because he's their special friend. And then they gag him up again and put the sack back over his head...

I was laughing my ass off, but Ina kept asking me questions like, "Wotcha little girls doin' tyin' tha' poor mahn oop agin? Di' tha' farmer really jus' pull out tha' cow's entire stomach through i's arsehole?!" and, "Why are those children playin' keep-a-way wi' tha' frog? OH me GOD! Did they jus' melt tha' froggie on tha' portable heater?!" First of all, I was laughing too hard to answer her, and second of all, I had no idea if what we were seeing was real or just part of a beautiful and hilarious mass hallucination, so I never did tackle any of her questions, and after that fucked up show ended (with some really ugly couple talking about being "local," and how "new road" would ruin their lives), and the shitty Eddie Murphy claymation suckfest known as The PJs came on, we turned the TV off for the night (mostly so that Ina'd stop asking me questions I'd have no way of knowing about why anything that happened happened in that program that just ended). It wasn't until the following year that I found out that the show we watched that night was called The League of Gentlemen. I am an avid fan of the League now, despite the fact that I am not local in the least.

Anyway, this was a fantastic end to a rather crummy day. The Saturday that followed though is also included in what I consider now to be one of the greatest days of my life.