Last year my girlfriend walked into our patio door, at her own birthday party.
She’d been running in and out of the door, setting things up in the garden, when one of the older guests – who’d been invited for the earlier part of the evening – decided he was cold and got up and closed it as Elaine was hurrying back in.
Now, obviously this wasn’t funny, she made that very clear, but amusing things tend to happen at parties, in shared houses, and just about anywhere that you get more than two people gathered together in an intoxicated, inebriated, or overly excitable state.
There was the time, for instance, when a whole load of us were at a friend’s for a “house cooling” party – the rented house that Dennis and his friends were living in was being sold by his parents – on the day before prospective buyers were going to start viewing the place. We had offered to come round and help prepare the house for viewing, on the understanding that we were provided with some entertainment the night before.
As it turned out, the entertainment was a David Lynch video marathon, including Eraserhead, Dune, Blue Velvet, and a compilation of Lynch’s film school projects and early work, (some of which you can see, with additional directorial input from the man himself here.) accompanied by large quantities of herbal intoxicants and several bottles of Mescal, which can do very odd things to people.
Handle with care!
Dennis was half English / half American (including 1/16 Blackfoot Indian, allegedly) and had recently come back from one of his trips to the States, bringing with him some Mexican peppers that were supposedly the hottest you could get there. I forget what they were called – not scotch bonnets, which apparently “have nothing on these” – but they looked a little like small, slightly flattened tomatoes, or rose hips.
Another friend, Zippy, (about whom there will be more later) was the sort of clean living bloke, whose only vice was lager, who would always order a stupidly hot madras, or whatever the napalm flavoured curry is called, when we went for a meal, and then sit there sweating like he was in a sauna.
Dennis was walking around with this plate of chillies, offering them to people in a casual sort of way, as if they were nothing special.
Zippy, of course, was the one who tried one.
He was fairly nonchalant to begin with, despite visibly sweating. Then, all of a sudden, it appeared to hit him.
He shot up from his seat, raced into the kitchen, and literally plunged his head into a full sink of water. No matter how often people said that water would only make it worse, he kept doing it. I honestly thought he was going to drown.
The deal was, before we settled down to watch the films, (but not before we’d heavily sampled the Mescal) we would all take one particular area of the house to clear up and pack away.
I was helping Dennis take down a large wall hanging.
It was a large tie-dyed sheet, (this was the ’80s) draped in swags down the stairwell. The only way to reach it was to stand on a windowsill half way up the stairs, about 2m off the ground.
So there I am, standing on a tile-wide sill, six feet up the wall, holding onto a sheet which is knotted round a hook in the wall, trying, and this is important, with both hands to untie it.
At this point I should say that, at the time, I was sharing a somewhat chaotic bedsit with a mate called Dan.
Dan was a vegetarian.
He was also slightly mad when he was pissed
Just at the point that I managed to get the knot undone, my left foot was yanked forcibly off the windowsill, and a sharp pain shot up my leg.
I looked down to see Dan, with his teeth embedded in my ankle, grinning madly up at me, trying to pull me off the wall, whilst I’m swinging backwards and forwards from the sheet which is now only attached at each end to similar hooks.
All the while, Dan is grinning and saying, in a matter of fact voice, “I’m gonna eat you, I’m gonna you” (in a Telford accent)
Fortunately, at the very last point at which I could hang on any longer, someone downstairs grabbed Dan off me and I collapsed inelegantly, face first, back against the wall.
However, it didn’t stop there. No sooner than I was safely down at ground level, the Mescal-powered northerner chased me around the house attempting, evidently in all seriousness, to eat me.
I don’t recall what made him relent in his gastronomic pursuit, but eventually we sat down to view the Lynchathon.
Now, I’m sure that it would have been strange enough watching David Lynch films for that long in a normal state, but after the conspicuous consumption of various natural combustible herbs, a sort of psychotropic tequila, and a couple of agave worms, it was an unique experience let me tell you.
What a bottle of Mescal does to you.
It was not improved one bit by a loud explosion halfway through Eraserhead.
There were several large glass ashtrays on the floor with candles in them. The candles had melted away long ago, but someone had discovered that if you float a screwed up Rizla in the ashtray of liquid wax, it makes a perfectly good wick.
Unfortunately the same genius hadn’t factored in the heat generated by glass dish of burning wax.
Heavy glass ashtrays, such as those that may go missing from a pub for instance, don’t like that much heat.
In a way, it was rather fortunate that the floor was concrete, and the carpet was not deep pile.
The next day, when the couple came round to view the house, they were impressed at how clean and tidy it was, and how polite all the young people were, but you could see they were slightly puzzled by the layout of the living room. It seemed odd that the sofa was right in the centre of the room.
Three people sat in it the whole time, to make sure it didn’t move too.
In my next post, more of Zippy, as guest contributor…