After enduring a train journey to the capital in order to meet an ex-stripper I’d befriended in the summer while working at T.G.I Friday’s, I found myself at the entrance to a place I never thought I’d gaze my eyes upon ever again – T.G.I Friday’s. A fantastic restaurant to many, but a sanctuary of horror for myself and my self-esteem. There are literally hundreds of pubs, bars and other alcohol-selling hotspots in Edinburgh, but by my tragic luck, the ex-stripper had directed me towards the exact place I’d ridiculed myself in just a few months in the past – let’s just say that while working a shift on the busiest night the restaurant had ever seen, the pressure of relentless service slowly emancipated into a hellish purgatory of sobbing tears and shameful tribulation and I stormed out of the restaurant mid-shift with a wet face and minimal dignity.
She must surely have heard of the breakdown I had in the summer at this place, surely! I mean, she still works here to this day for fuck’s sake.
Regardless of the embarrassment that lurked behind the black pine doors of the restaurant, it was the ex-stripper that had kindly offered to pay for all of my drinks so I had little choice but to humour her choice of settlement on that cold night. With a slight pause and a grimace on my reddening face, I opened the heavy doors and advanced straight towards the bar with a burst of adrenaline flowing through my veins. I whipped my phone from my pocket and began meaninglessly browsing Facebook in an attempt to distract myself from the impending doom that awaited me. Waiters and other familiar staff members filled the room, floating from table to table as I hurried towards the bar with my phone plastered to my vision. As much as I was expecting the indefinite looks of horror and disgrace from each and every employee I’d worked with in the summer to shoot daggers through my skull as I darted towards the bar, this was shockingly not the case.
I meandered towards the bar, the ex-stripper following closely behind, my eyes darting in every direction and my ears tuned-in to any murmurs of laughter or gossip that may begin to fill the room. I painfully recognised the bartender as someone I’d regularly exchanged small talk with while working here.
“Hey, can we have two pints please?”, I asked solemnly.
“Sure thing bud’, Tennents yeah?”.
The bartender calmly poured our drinks, without as much as a whisper emerging from his mouth. He clearly didn’t give a flying fuck about my unorthodox presence, and this sort of bothered me. After all the thoughts of horror and apprehension that had flowed through my mind over the previous ten minutes, not a single recognisable person could even bother to give the slightest shit towards my dilemma. Ten minutes flew by and not one ex-colleague of mine had even batted an eye at me, not one. A waiter I shared lunch with a few months ago even accidentally brushed against our table as she glided past, but still, not a single odd look or malicious word was directed towards my shattered ego as I sipped cautiously on my pint. As much as I would have loathed it if my expectations of crude frowning and awkward stares were correct, I was sort of hoping for some kind of bemused reaction from my fellow colleagues. Oh well, life went on.
I enjoyed a pint with the ex-stripper before indulging in some of the more costly beverages displayed on the drinks menu. A few cocktails later and the ex-stripper and I were in delirium. As tragic as this may sound, the two hours that proceeded the clenching awkwardness upon entering the restaurant were probably the most enjoyable two hours I’d had in years. A blissful optimism swept over me as thoughts of sex and other far-fetched fantasies began to conquer my mind. For most nineteen-year-old guys, the notion of taking an ex-stripper out for drinks in the capital is almost certainly a guarantee of some form of sexual contact, but for me, the tragic one, it was almost certainly wishful thinking.
I wanted two things to occur at this point; either that we would venture off to a night club for another two hours of delirious intoxication, hence increasing my chances of waking up at her house the following day, or that we’d take the direct route and head straight to her abode. Either way, the alcohol in my system forced a very strong desire to wake up at her house the following day. Contrary to my own endeavours however, the ex-stripper disappeared onto a bus soon after and I found myself staggering solo back to the train station at eleven o’clock at night with a crinkled cigarette hanging out of my mouth. I was inexplicably fucked and the escalators leading down to the platforms were an immaculate symbolisation of how my night was momentarily about to plummet downhill.
After surpassing the escalators, tipping my head up to the looming electrical boards to identify my train was more than challenging given the state I was in. But it wasn’t long before I was able to identify the correct train, and not much longer after that before I realised it had been cancelled. The last train back to my house had been cancelled due to “someone being hit by the train” and I was therefore trapped in Edinburgh for at least another hour before another train, only stopping at a town close to my house, would arrive.
What a selfish little shit. I busted a gut to get here tonight and you’ve gone and thrown yourself in front of my last chance of not having to walk home tonight.
After half an hour of perilously waiting for the wrong train to take me three miles from my house, I sort of began to wish that I was the one that had been hit by the train – it certainly would have made my life a lot easier than it currently was and I probably wouldn’t have felt any pain due to the significant amount of alcohol I’d consumed. At this point, I would have died to have called up the ex-stripper and inform her of my horrific situation in the hopes that she’d feel sorry for me and invite me back to her house; but once again, life decided to slap me in the nose and my phone had decided to die on the way to the train station. I sat helplessly drunk on a freezing metal bench amid the bustle of the train station for nearly one and a half hours before my train finally arrived.
I careened aboard the train half-lashed and tumbled onto the nearest seat to a gloriously warm comfort only to be remind myself of the three mile trek that fate had paved for me upon my exit from the train in just over half an hour. It would be a cold, miserable end to my night and I could do nothing to help it.
I hate you, life.