Saturday, September 24, 2011

England Trip Do Over - Part 2

There are two things I forget every time I go to England: 1) I am not English and 2) I am not 20. I woke up at 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning with a raging hangover and wanted nothing more than to down a glass of water, roll over and go back to sleep. It was not to be. We had planned a trip to Thorpe Park which everyone had been looking forward to for a month, and begging off because I drank too much was not really an option. I got dressed sitting on the floor of my room and made it downstairs to the car where Sulu, MrBalls and i.c. hater were waiting on Nat and me. "Good morning!" grinned i.c. hater as I slid into the backseat.

"No," I replied. We collected Nat and headed out. Now here's the thing: I love roller coasters. LOVE them. But some years ago I started noticing a change in my constitution. I had always gotten a bit motion sick on long car rides, but at some point in the mid 90's I realized that I was starting to get motion sick going on roller coasters. One particular trip to Cedar Point ended with me collapsing in tears - I'd gone on three brilliant coasters and was so shaken up and nauseous I was sure I would never be able to ride again. Luckily, I quickly discovered the joy of Dramamine and my thrill riding ways were able to continue. I was totally pumped, despite my hangover. "Even if I puke after every ride," I announced as we walked in, "I am going to RALLY LIKE A CHAMP." We got on the first coaster and I kicked my feet happily as we chugged up the first hill. And then we plunged down it.

You guys. There is no amount of motion sickness medication in the world that can counteract the effects of both motion sickness AND being hungover at the same time. I came off the ride almost in a daze from how bad I felt. We ended up settling into a pattern where I would go on two coasters in a row and then sit one out while I recovered. This worked out really well since as it turns out, Sulu is kind of a giant pussy about roller coasters and I often had her for company.

The newest attraction at Thorpe Park is Saw. There are two rides: an absolutely insane roller coaster with a drop that is greater than vertical and a sort of haunted house type thing. We went for the haunted house first. Along the way we had picked up a couple more friends, so the seven of us plus the four or five people behind us were lined up train style with hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them and sent inside. We were immediately accosted by a terrifying man who went straight for Nat (she was in between Sulu and me), prompting her to scream, or rather screech "STOP TOUCHING ME!" This had the effect of basically painting a target on her, and in every subsequent room the monster people seemed to go straight for her. I got through the entire thing mostly ignored while Nat kept up a steady stream of screaming and yelling: "STOP TOUCHING ME! GO AWAY! FUCK OFF!" The situation wasn't helped by the fact that our friend at the front of the line was as terrified as Nat was and was leading the line along at a pace that made it seem as if her shoelaces had been tied together.

Next up was the roller coaster. There was a queue*, so we were idly chatting while we waited when someone brought up Ben & Jerry's ice cream (this happens every time MrBalls and I are anywhere near each other) and led to a comment from i.c. hater to the effect that he hates ice cream (i.c. hater! Get it?). We demanded clarification. "Well, I don't like the way it is so cold. It's really a bit agro, isn't it?" The rest of us were all perplexed, but true to his word he refused to eat it any of the Half-Baked pint we bought on the way home.

This time around, it was Sulu who became hysterical on the ride. She was sat between Nat and me for moral support, and the both of us were patting her legs reassuringly as we went (straight) up the hill and she babbled uncontrollably. At the top of the hill she started screaming and she did not stop for the entire ride. She was physically shaking when we came off it. I was a bit shaken up as well, but it was of the hangover variety, so as the rest of the group prepared to get back in the queue, I was fully prepared to sit it out with a PTS Sulu. Except that when the suggestion was made to go again, she was the first one to agree, and then she RAN to the entrance. It was impressive actually, I don't think we could have paid Nat to go back in the haunted house.
Saw the roller coaster. Note that the way up the hill is vertical. Sulu was not a fan.

The drive home was much more lively than the drive out had been and, as previously mentioned, we stopped for a pint of B&J's which four of the five of us shared, though the bulk of the thing was consumed by myself and MrBalls. Also at some point we invented the term "Dickmuff".

The next day I was feeling much better, which was important because I had some seriously grown up plans, y'all. Specifically, I managed to get to Hitchin rail station, buy a ticket and a return from the nice ticket counter man, get myself on a train to Kings Cross in London and then find the prearranged meeting point at St. Pancras station all by myself LIKE A MOTHERFUCKING ADULT. I was meeting a total stranger, hence the bright purple, highly recognizable hair. I'd been internet stalking him for some seven years, and realizing that I could do whatever I wanted on this trip and that I had nothing to lose, I'd e-mailed him and asked if he would be interested in meeting me for a drink. I should back up a bit. The stranger is sort of my idol, internet-wise. His writing is spectacular and is the standard by which I judge all other websites of similar material. I'm not the only one who has noticed, either - his site is fairly popular. So when I sent the e-mail, I wasn't really expecting there to be a response, let alone that the response would be "yes" and "I'll clear my afternoon for you." I figured it would get lost in the sea of fan mail he must get constantly, or that perhaps he doesn't bother to arrange meet-and-greets with potentially crazy fangirls from the internet. I immediately freaked out because HOLY CRAP WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR and also shitshitshit what if I can't think of anything interesting to say? By the time of my trip we'd been corresponding for a few weeks so I was marginally less nervous (though not comfortable enough to do something intelligent like wear shoes intended for walking in, given that he had told me we'd be walking a fair amount. Instead I wore heels because looking good seemed way more important and I like to pretend to myself that I'm hardcore). We went for lunch and had tapas (my first time, somehow I had missed out on this brilliant cuisine for the first 33 years of my life) and then went and found a coffee shop that served genuine for real delicious coffee, which I took a photo of because I had never seen real coffee before anywhere in England. It was a wonderful afternoon and went by very quickly. The stranger had another engagement, so we made plans for later in the week and then I went home (by taking the tube back to Kings Cross because I am VERY MATURE).

Back in Hitchin I discovered the one thing that would make life in a small town in England difficult for me (actually the second of two things. As I apparently told everyone repeatedly while drunk, what I would miss about Chicago if I moved is that I can get Mexican food made by real Mexicans when I am drunk at 5 in the morning, and in England even if I could find something open that late (unlikely) it would almost certainly be curry and I don't like curry. Tacos!): everything shuts ridiculously early. Well, I say everything, but I mean everything decent - Subway was still open when I got back, but I didn't go for it. I was starving but there was no way I was eating Subway, which I can get at home, while I was in England. It's the principle of the thing. Instead, I went home and made myself some hot chocolate, surfed the internet for a while and went to bed. I had an adventure planned for the next day insofar as I had absolutely nothing planned at all and was going to be truly on my own as far as how to entertain myself. Shut up, it was very exciting for me.


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