Flashback - 1999: Expedition Scotland
Page 7

Day 5: Saturday - December 4th, 1999 (page II)

I'll Take the High Road...

I almost broke my neck three times on my way down the castle's hill and through the city. After I steadied myself for the third time, I got ready to start running again, but I heard something that made me stop and look around. It was still cold as a Pudding Pop, and windy as a Taco Bell at lunch time, but there was something pleasant in the air which made me think to myself, "You know what? So what if I miss the 2 o'clock train... I really should take my time and enjoy this most rugged of lands for as long as I can. Ahhhhhhhhh *sigh of contention*" The sounds of the mighty bagpipes filled me bones with joy and pride, and when I found the source (some old guy in a kilt [and nothing underneath but his shoes... I checked... for science!], standing on a street corner marching to the rhythm of his own glorious playing) I just stood and watched him for about 5 minutes with a big, stupid, cheezy, American grin on my face. When he stopped for a breather I applauded, thanked the crazy old coot for giving me the perfect end to my time in Scotland, and then dropped the remaining pounds from my pockets into his "tips" box. Then I took my time, admiring the now bustling town all the way down the slope. I got a couple of shots of classy-looking banks and hotels putting up Christmas decorations, and even took a picture of an Indian couple in front of a shop window selling kilts. If I had the guts I would have gone in and tried one on for a photo op myself, but my brain was too cold to think up anything that cool at that time. DAMN my frozen brain!

Rossman At The Gates
I honestly cannot think of a more perfect way that my stay in Edinburgh could have ended.... Holy shit that guy must have been freezing his golf balls off though!


As it turned out I made it back to the Jury' Inn at about 1:45 (I really must have zig-zagged around the town that morning before ending up at the Castle; I thought it was going to take much longer to make it back), found the hotel manager trying to pull a sticky tissue off his finger, and then snatched my bags away while scolding him and telling him "No tip for you! You a very bad man! Aye! You! Bad!" Honestly!

I made my way down to the station and boarded my train with minutes to spare. I was already starting to warm up when we left heading back South to London at two on the dot. Things remained quiet on the trip back for a few stops, and then a group of 4 teenage girls (probably around 16 or 17) got on and sat across from me (two directly across from me and two on the seats facing me but on the other side of the aisle). Those girls were absolutely hilariously awesome. I either just stared smilingly out the window, pretended to read my only book (a Judge Dee novel that I had long since finished), or feigned sleep, but all I was really doing was listening to their gorgeous accents. They just talked and talked and talked. Apparently they went to a boarding school, and they were out for the day to have some "foon" as far away from their town as they could, but they'd sneak back in to their rooms via a ladder that they knew was in one of the work sheds, so no problem. They gushed or mocked eachother's jewelry, clothes, piercings, and boyfriends, but I didn't care what they chattered about, it was their lilting speech pattern that made me smile so deeply even when I acted like I was in slumberland.

I accidentally caught the eye of one of the girls (the cute bob-haired red-headed one) at one point about 30 minutes into their trip, and just looked away like it was nothing, trying not to give away my smile (I wanted to listen to their accents for as long as I could, and I didn't want to creep them out and make them move seats), but from then on I found myself catching her glancing at me all mischievously from the corner of my eye. Finally, and unfortunately, their stop came up a bit before sunset. The girls got up in order to retrieve their gear (that was stuffed overhead a couple of rows away from me). Red was the last to get her stuff, and as she walked back towards me (and the exit behind me) she started touching the seatbacks and saying "Boop... Boop... Boop..." with each one that she tapped with her index finger. When she got to me (with my hat a pulled down a bit seeing as I had been fake snoozing for about 5 minutes) she bounced the bill of my baseball cap up and almost off my head entirely while saying "Bink!" and winking at me. I almost ripped up my return ticket right then and there.

The blinding smile remained on my face for a few stops longer, but soon the snottiest, snootiest, 18 year-old (or so), poor-little-rich-boy sat in the seat across the aisle from me (where two of the cute girls sat facing before) and almost immediately started ranting and raving to his friend (who sat across from him, facing both him and me) about how "bloody stoooopid the Americans are! They bloody well think that the world revolves around them and their stooooopid president [Clinton]." He was right of course, but it was still rude. What was kind of funny about the whole situation though was that not only did the wanker's friend see me (and just how American I truly was [there was no way to hide it at that point]), but the loud-mouth's mum sat directly across from me and stared either at her son or her hands in her lap with the widest eyes I'd ever seen on a woman in all my days. Soon the friend (who had been joining in with Snooty's American bashing at first) noticed me too, and he became all red in the face and quiet. This didn't bother Junior McFoulmouth though, he kept right on going with his "Americans are all so bloody FAT too! 'Oh! Is that a cheeseburger over there? I must eat it with my fat, li'l, porky mouth! *Nom nom nom!*'" and his "How many Americans does it take to fuck a whore? (I swear to Jesus H. Christ that this was one of his actual jokes)..... Give up? Well, if they can find their dicks uner all that flab it'd only take one, but they're so bloody FAT!"

He HAD to have seen me, I thought... When he first boarded and sat down, he HAD to have seen my hat, my jacket, my jeans, and my sweatshirt. I was the EPITOME of the very idea of the "American tourist." I just sat there and listened to the rants and silly, third grade, potty humor attacks on my country, looking up at the kid's mum and friend every so often. After about 20 minutes he seemed to run out of material and Snotty just started talking about movies and music with his then more relaxed amigo. As the announcement was made over the PA system that we were approaching the last stop of the line, London, I rested my chin on my hand, my elbow on the armrest facing towards Snooty, and just smirked. When we came to a stop Mr. Pottytongue finally turned around to say something to his (still wide-eyed) mum... And he noticed me. He turned very white very fast (I'm sure his mind was racing to what he had said on the entire trip, wondering how much I had heard), but he recovered quickly, giving me a sneer and a huff. He got up to get his luggage and then I stood up next to him. I was a good 6 inches taller (what's that, a cubit?), and he was actually quite a bit chubbier than me. I got into his face and said, "This is a lesson for you, Junior... Don't be a dick. It'll only get you into trouble in the future... You never know who's listening and if he likes to PUNCH things in their fat faces." He flinched like a scared puppy at "PUNCH," and I bit my lip to keep from laughing. Then I quietly turned around and walked off the train. I wish I got a picture of that douchebag, especially right after I turned around and started making my way to the exit.


It was around 6:30 at night when we arrived back at King's Cross (amazing how fast the trip is on rails that aren't broken). I walked back to the Lonsdale (the only hotel that I knew of in all of London) in the streetlamp-lit night, thinking about Jack the Ripper and just how easy it must have been for him all those years ago — the streets were almost empty, and I thought that grabbing a lady into the shadows of some dark alley would have been oh so easy... My mind gets twisted when it gets tired.

I entered the hotel that I had just checked out of the previous morning and slunk to the check-in desk. The guy didn't remember me (or my beard). I asked for a room but the man behind the counter looked like I just asked to pork his sister (while making him watch).

"No room," was all he said.

I said, "Please room? Yes? Room here, please?"

Contest!!!The Hindu man just shook his head and said, "No please. No room is here. You must go now. I know numbers of people to call to make you leave. No please, you go." I left, and began to wonder if I'd have to sleep on a park bench or something that night. Maybe flag a taxi and drive around, making him stop at any hotel we came upon while I ran in to see if there were any vacancies... I stood on the Lonsdale's front steps for a few minutes pondering my situation... Then I looked up and across the street. There was another hotel right across the way — the Reptor. I never noticed it before. I shrugged to myself and said out loud, "What the fuck. Doesn't hurt to ask. A bed's a bed... Well, unless it has the Black Death or bed bugs in it, then it's a lawsuit I guess...." I stopped talking to myself when the young couple making out in the shadows behind a moving truck I passed looked at me like I was crazy (which I did appear to be, so I didn't get too angry at them). I did give the guy a thumbs up though when I noticed he had his hand on her right titty. I don't think he smiled back though.

Lo and behold, the Reptor did have a room available that night, and I snagged it as soon as it was offered to me. After throwing my luggage into it I then ran out into the London night feeling free and way too sober. I walked around for a little while, passing McDonalds restaurants and shitty-looking dives until I finally came across a local pub. I walked in and went right up to the bar and ordered a pint of whatever their darkest brew was. I got a Guinness, and after a few deep swallows I began looking around the place. It was fairly packed, mostly by gents, and I appeared to be the only one in the joint who wasn't sipping on a Budweiser. This couldn't be, I thought. There must be a mistake. They must be drinking a local ale that just looks as light and see-through as Bud... I asked the bar keep, "Hey, what's everyone here drinking, it looks just like American dog piss that we Yanks know as Budwei--" I looked down at the spigget ornaments on his side of the bar. 3 were for Bud, one Bud Light. The man looked at me like I was trying to cause trouble, and since I just wanted to get blind stinking drunk that night (and knew that I'd have a really hard time doing that if I got thrown out or beaten up), I let it go. I chugged the rest of my drink, ordered another, and then started playing darts and the "ring-hook" game in the corner with a bunch of other tipsy blokes who quickly absorbed me into their group.

We talked all about how much I loved their town, but how I think I preferred my little college town (with its fresh batch of 18 year-old lasses coming in every year) to that of old school London. They showed me some fun, new drinking games, we played poker and 21, and then we hopped on over to another pub about 2 blocks down at around 11 o'clock that night. It was a great way to end one of the greatest days (and a half) of my life.

Final Day: Sunday - December 5th, 1999

Rossman Revolutions

I have no real recollection of how or when I made it back to my hotel room, but I did wake up in it the following morning. It was my last day in England (this trip)... Well, at least my last few hours in England, seeing as I had to hurry back to the airport in an hour or two.

My head was pounding, my mouth tasted like I ate British food, threw it up, and then ate it again (which was a distinct possibility if some of my memories of the previous night were true). I got cleaned up (boy did I have to scrub that morning), and then dragged my sorry hide down to the front desk to check out. The cute girl behind the counter talked to me while I was checking out, and I noticed that there was something different about her, but I couldn't figure out what. After I signed my credit card receipt I said, "You're not from around here, are you?" Her accent was decidedly NOT British.

"Nope," she said in what I thought was a slight Minnesotan twang. "I'm actually Canadian." I'd only been to Canada a few times in my life, and was about to head back to North America in just a few hours anyway, but I took this as an opening and began talking to the pretty girl about home. I forget the details of the conversation, but I do recall that we had chatted for at least 5 minutes because this wrinkled old bag of a bitchy woman behind me suddenly chimed in with a "It's been 5 goddamn minutes! Either ask her for her number or just get out of the bloody way!" I didn't see the woman there before, and she unfortunately shocked and shamed my Canadian cutie into silence. I then quickly pulled out my camera and asked the checkout girl for a picture to remember her gorgeous smile by, but she was too embarrassed and was hurrying to finish checking me out in order to get both me and the bitchy old lady behind me (who was grumbling out loud by this point) out of there as soon as possible.

Finally, after begging for a picture for another minute or two, the old cunt shouted out, "Just let him take your picture, then check me out so that I can get out of this godforsaken place before supper! I mean REALLY...." My darling canuck refused to look up after that, and I just took a very unflattering shot of the top of her head that made her forehead look like it was bigger than the Millennium Dome. Then I left while cursing the ancient bag of vinegar and piss who ruined my moment with the girl I had only met 10 minutes before.

The End of It All... Especially for Rick and Joan.

I took the Tube one last time to the station that the Gatwick Express was anchored at. After another expensive ticket/trip back to the airport I slowly made my way to my gate and waited for the boarding call. While I sat there I thought all about the previous 3 full days (and change) in the United Kingdom. Despite the rush (and possibly because of it) I had a fantastic time. I never let Baldwin and Megalodon know this though... I just kept wondering how much more awesome the trip may had been had I been allowed more time to do fun shit... But that was behind me, I told myself.

About 30 minutes before take off the Colonel, Baldwin and Megalodon showed up. They looked rough — real rough. Neither Baldwin or Megalodon would say why, and I didn't push it. They were both willing to forget any grumblings they may have had with my pushiness earlier in the trip, and I chose not to bring up their quite retarded plans at making the trip suck. We simply got on the plane and settled in for our 9-hour return flight. The cabin was even less full than our trip to England a few days before. We each took a row to ourselves.

On the road again...
Here I am on the return flight just in front of President Barack Hussein Obama. Yes, I know. I look like complete and utter shit. Wasn't the first time, won't be the last.

I slept for a few hours, and when I woke up I saw that the Colonel was already conscious and so I went over to talk to him about what actually happened after I left their group on Friday morning. I told him all about the train ride into Scotland, my trying to contact his old professor on the phone (they got all my answering machine messages and thought that I was drunk), Ina and the family reunion, the castle, and the 4 teenage girls on the return trip to London (he thought this was the best part of my adventure... and I think it was a close second). I was really eager to hear his story, and I wanted to find out if they actually did have their fabled picnic in an abandoned castle as Megalodon had so meticulously planned (in her mind). The Colonel said no... They did not.

Apparently the three of them got up at around 10 on Friday (about the time I first got stuck at Grantham Station), and took their sweet time finding a car rental place, and then a market where Megalodon could buy the ingredients for their lunches. It was apparently 1PM when they set off North with no destination in mind, just petrol in the tank.

After driving all around the British countryside for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS, they got sick of looking for an abandoned castle to eat their picnic in, and just pulled over when they thought they saw what could have been part of an ancient, old, stone wall still standing about a foot and a half out of the ground. It was pitch black at this time, the ground was soggy with rain, and it was freezing cold the Colonel told me... But they ate their crappy little sandwiches and then hurried over to his old friend's place in Cambridge. They had a nice warm meal there, and the Colonel got to see all his old teachers and friends, but he only had that Friday night and half of Saturday to talk to them seeing as Megalodon simply HAD to get back into London Saturday night because.... Well, he could not recall her reasonings. What confused him more was that once they made it back into London and found a small hotel near where they returned the car, Baldwin and Megalodon just wanted to go to sleep. They woke up that day (the day of the plane trip home) pretty late, and rushed to get to the airport (where they eventually met me) without any breakfast. I said, "Wow! Sounds like fun!" I didn't mean it to sound sarcastic as none of this scheduling snafu was the Colonel's fault, but he just looked at me as if to tell me not to patronize him, and that if I continued he'd strangle me with the oxygen mask from the ceiling.

Anyway, the trip back was uneventful, and the funniest part of the entire vacation took place just after we got off the plane in the Atlanta airport. We were one of the first off the tin bird, and we noticed that there was a huge group of people at the gate all standing behind one man wearing a laughable mustache and holding a big sign that read "Welcome home, HONEY!" (This was before 9/11, back when you could actually meet loved ones at the arrival gates.) We stuck around to see what was going on seeing as the huge group (maybe 20 people, including men, women, children, and overly excited elderly) were all way too giddy for their own good. The man with the sign and mustache was almost peeing himself with anticipation.

Soon a haggard-looking woman in a casual business outfit got off the plane, dragging a large suitcase behind her like an uncooperative dog. She looked up and saw the large crowd. "Rick," she said, "What, who, what's going on here? Why's your brother, and, well, your whole family here? Why are you here?"

Rick either didn't hear her or chose to ignore the woman's questions. Instead, he dropped the sign, got down on one knee, pulled out a small box from his pocket and asked (with that stupid grin still plastered on his face right underneath that gay mustache), "Joan.... Will you marry me?"

Megalodon gasped in romantic anticipation, but something seemed off to me. It must have been the look of disgust on Joan's face.

Joan looked around at everyone who was staring at them both (even glancing in our direction), then she looked back down at Rick. "What are you.... No!" She pretty much spit those words out, then she turned and walked very fast down the terminal hallway leaving everybody behind.

Rick was flustered, but he turned to his family and said, "Ummmm, hold on for a.... I'll be.... Ummmm, just wait... No, I'll see you by the cars..." Then he took off running after the girl. His group started following them both, and so did we. We all caught up to them near the Hartsfield subway (that goes up and down the airport terminal stations), she was yelling at him for his stupidity, and soon he stopped caring who was listening and started screaming, "You WHORE! You goddamn WHORE!!! You are such a BITCH, you know that, honey! WHORE!!!!" Me and my three companions chose to walk to the parking garage instead of taking the train... Sometimes I wonder what the fuck that was all about. Honestly, how does a guy misread the signs of his relationship with a woman so poorly that he gets THAT reaction from her after a proposal? But I digress one last time. That was the end of our trip. And all in all it was pretty damn good.


The only moral of this story (if there is indeed one to be had) is to never give up on something even if it seems like the world (and some of your companions [except the Colonel... NEVER the Colonel]) are against you. Just keep pushing, prodding, punching, and sometimes gouging (at eyes), and you never know just how good a day can get.

Oh, and the other moral is NEVER go on vacation with a bunch of wet blankets. They will try to suck the awesomeness out of everything. And if you intend to propose to a girl (especially in front of your entire family) make sure she'll say "yes" ahead of time.

NOTES from the Editor:
The Rossman has very strange "best days" of his life. Most include the Colonel in some respect, and yet none of them contain massage parlors, jars of peanut butter and family pets, or finding my neighbor's secret homemade porn stash that he tried to hide in a box in his backyard near my swingset. My "best day" contains all of those, and none of the Colonel. Make of that what you will.

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