Bipolar Life and Facebook – PART TWO

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?”.

“Yeah…cheers”.

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. 

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Bipolar Life and Facebook – PART ONE

It’s funny how life has been treating me recently. At around seven o’clock last night I was squeezed up in the corner of my room on my laptop in a fruitful attempt to surpass round 92 on Bloons Tower Defense on hard mode, and ten minutes later, by some miraculous sequence of events involving Facebook and an ex-stripper girl I’d befriended while working in the capital in the summer, I found myself galloping down the stairs in the hopes that my mum would gift me with five pounds so I could embark on another wild night out in the freezing cold of the city. I literally went from being deeply engrossed in a child’s strategy game in the corner of my room, to ostentatiously sipping away at an expensive cocktail while in the presence of a painfully attractive ex-stripper in a bar in Edinburgh in a matter of an hour – I love you, life, even if you are chronically bipolar.

For many, Facebook is a volatile invention that has merely served as a catalyst for fiery arguments, heated altercations and a place for low-esteemed teenagers to vent their petty issues and post limitless pictures of mirrors. But for me, it’s a life-changing innovation that continues to shape my life in surprising ways. Without the invention of Facebook, many of the most memorable in my life would not have occurred (as tragic as that may sound) and last night was no exception.

I received a message from the ex-stripper for no reason that I can think of except that she must have been achingly bored. Why else would anyone message me? I hadn’t spoken to her on this beacon of communication for months nor had I seen her since the summer, but sure enough, I found myself immersed in the conversation for at least ten minutes before she invited me out into the city for a drink. As much as it would have been a dream for me to have grabbed my designer Emporio Armani jacket, hop into my new Bugatti and blaze off towards the city to meet her, I shamefully had to inform her of the significant financial turbulence I was currently enduring and that it would be impossible for me to meet her that night. But to my surprise, she offered not only to pay for my train-fare on the way back from the city, but also for all of my drinks.

Free drinks and train fare courtesy of a sexy ex-stripper girl in the city – a dream!

I could hardly contemplate what had just happened – I had to concentrate my eyes on the screen for at least ten seconds while a hard object simultaneously grew large in my pants before realising the glory of the situation. I fearlessly accepted her invitation and within a matter of seconds the dream of overcoming round 92 on Bloons Tower Defense was quickly thrown to the back of my mind and I found myself cajoling my mum into giving me a fiver before dashing towards the train station at rapid speeds to catch the next train. Although I remained pessimistic about accomplishing anything other than a hug from the girl, the thought of bathroom blowjobs and riveting sex was certainly a prominent one throughout the entirety of the thirty minute train journey to the city. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for – there was no plan as to what bar we were going to drink alcohol in, what alcohol we were going to drink or for how long we were going to drink it for – but due to the fact that there was indefinitely going to be alcohol involved, and a very attractive woman, this didn’t bother me in the slightest.

The only thing we had actually planned was for her to meet at the train station upon my arrival. I stepped off the train in a notion of sheer confidence, knowing that if I portrayed myself as a man of pride and self-reliance, my chances of possibly achieving as little as a snog would naturally increase as she saw me step onto the concrete platform.

When meeting up with a girl, I’ve always found that the mood and mindset I’m in ten seconds before meeting her is usually the one that persists throughout – whether it be painful awkwardness or upbeat confidence, it sticks like napalm in a Vietnamese jungle. For this night, I was in luck and the fear that I’d say something stupid or racist was non-existent. I was an emblem of confidence, and nothing was going to change that. Well, except for when I realised I’d just left my ten packet of cigarettes on the train and fell into a state of minor depression for a few moments.

However, hastily sweeping that under my carpet of sanguine, she informed me that we were going to go to T.G.I Friday’s for a few drinks – the exact location where I had met her and worked in the summer. I had no problem with this, except that I’d sort of left the place on bad terms. Losing my head on the busiest night the restaraunt had ever seen, storming out of the kitchen and then breaking into a ferocious flood of tears on the stairs is more or less how it went; so to enter into the place definitely seemed ominious; but being me, I did so anyway, and quite shamelessly at that. Free alcohol seems to beat down anything.

I’m Fairly Sure My Best Friend is a Killer – PART FOUR

Jimmy initiated his final move, hounding the panic-stricken man in the face with an unrestrainable succession of lethal blows to the face. The man could only do as much as let out a silent gasp of pain and fear as any sound that dared to attempt to make it way out of the man’s mouth was only battered straight back in again by the frantic strikes to the face by Jimmy. Bemused viewers jeered and roared at the immense scene of destruction and torment that was flashing before their eyes while the the bearded man’s friends readied themselves for intervention.

All of this happened in the space of around thirty seconds, with the bearded man’s friends stepping into the fight just before Jimmy was able to gauge his eyes out. A large, bear-like gentleman with stale red hair and an Adidas tracksuit bolted across the scene of the fight and trucked Jimmy square in the face with a clumsy heavy right fist to the back of Jimmy’s head. The drugs and alcohol devoured by him earlier seemed to soak up most of the impact and pain as Jimmy appeared remarkably not phased by the momentous blow he’d just eaten to the back of his frazzled head. Needless to say, the punch delivered by the bear-like character did enough to barge Jimmy up and away from the bearded man who was struggling to inhale a breathe at this point, never mind walk. Astonished by what I had just seen, I strutted over to Jimmy, who looked adamant that it wasn’t over, and asked him if he’s alright. Evading my question, he triumphed his abuse towards the bearded man. I told you I would f#cking do you! I warned you all, fuckin’ c#nts!, he sneered. The bearded man, desperate for retribution in another round of ‘let’s see if I can lose my eyesight this time’, taunts Jimmy with the same childish phrase;

‘Faggot! Faaaaagot! You’re a faggot!’. The man was clearly lost in a bottomless pit of pain, dizziness and drunkeness but everyone in the car park at that moment still looked incredibly sober in comparison to Jimmy, who barely even knew his own name.

Jimmy, who knew he’d gotten the better of the bearded man, now did something that I can only show great respect for. It was this very action that restored my withering faith in him.

He walked away. He didn’t run, speak or even create eye contact with the gang, he just walked away in the direction of the bar entrance, saying nothing as he did. Slightly confused to why he was headed towards the entrance of the bar that had closed at least ten minutes ago, I followed him.

One of the bartenders stood eagerly at the door perplexed by the rumours of a fight he’d likely just been told about. Jimmy, who had lost all touch with reality at this point, ignored the shower of abuse that was pouring over the roof from the other side of the building, and quite simply, asked the bartender (to whom he worked with) for a bottle. The bartender casually replied stating that the bar was closed and that he could no longer sell alcohol. A look of total discombobulation swept over Jimmy’s face as if he’d just been asked to dissect the meaning of the Universe.

‘You’ve had far too much to drink anyway, Jimmy’, the bartender consolidated.

Jimmy then said possibly the most self-destructing thing a man could ever say to a person who shared the same workplace as him.

‘It’s not for the alcohol! I need a bottle so I can kill every last one of those pricks ’round the corner there!,’ he exclaimed, essentially signing his own resignation form.

The bartender naturally laughed, the casual look of the bartender mysteriously looking as if he could relate to the situation Jimmy found himself in, as if he’d been in identical situations time and time again. A hideous tumour of anxiety was growing in Jimmy’s brain, haunted by the bearded man and his friends around the corner. The drugs and alcohol controlling Jimmy’s mind and body then decided to dismantle Jimmy’s job security prospects even further by bluntly asking the bartender for something even more grave than the bottle.

‘Go into the kitchen and get me a blade’, Jimmy directed, as if it was a common question asked on a daily basis.

‘A blade!?’, screeched the bar tender, taken completely off guard by the severity of Jimmy’s question. Jimmy scowled at him furiously and then began ravenously searching through his own pockets. The bar tender discretely closed the bar entrance doors, locking them comprehensively on while he did.

And  there we were, back to square one of the night – standing directionless in the freezing cold of the night under a phantom of dark grey clouds.

We began to walk away into the night, bombarded with the childlike abuse from the bearded man as we did. The man’s friends, who knew it was over having seen him beaten to a pulp on the floor of the car park, tryed their best to contain him. He continue to ring the words “Faggot! Faggot! Faggot!” through the hollow streets of the night but Jimmy, surprisingly enough, wasn’t in the least bit vexed by the man’s taunts and continued marching away from the building without a hiss. We blundered shoulder to shoulder along the pavement for five minutes before Jimmy eventually cut the silence.

‘I was ready for it’, he musked.

‘Ready for what?’, I asked.

‘I had my thumbs ready! I was seconds away from pushing my thumbs into his eyes! I could easily have blinded him!’

‘Oh yeah, right’, I said with a convincing sincerity in my voice.

I made it a temporary policy that night just to agree with everything Jimmy said in order make the journey back to my house seem like a walk to the post office rather than a hike up Everest as much as possible.

‘I just wish I had my blade on me, I would have shanked every last one of the little c#nts!’, he exclaimed.

‘I know Jimmy, I know you would’ve’, I said.

I took nothing but pleasure from the entire scene of the fight. From the verbal abuse to the physical chaos, the entire thing was a free show of horror and excitement that was like nothing I’d ever experience before in my entire life. I know, it’s a terrible thing to say given the fact that Jimmy could easily have killed someone given he had been armed with the appropriate tools. It was an eye-opening experience that gave me a deep insight into a world that I’d never seen or heard of before.

Jimmy’s rare honourable side meagerly began to shine through to me as  as we continued to trudge down the icy pavement, Jimmy persistently apologising for what he’d forced to watch. I appreciated that, but at the same time my thoughts could only tell me to thank him for the gift of an experience that he’d created for me; a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget.

But it wasn’t over, for we came across a long set of stone stairs leading up to a hillside forest a couple of minutes later, to which Jimmy flew up frantically without a whisper and disappeared into the darkness. I reluctantly began ascend to the top to greet him slouched at the top with his drowsy eyes focused absolutely on the base of the ancient steps.

‘What on Earth are you doing!?’, I quizzed.

‘Shut up! We’re waiting for those wee c#nts o walk past so I can burst everywhere single one of them!’, he insisted, in a calamitous tone. ‘Just you wait, I’m going to smash every single one of those dirty little scumbags’, he continued with significant grit in his tone.’

I tried many times to tell him that the bearded man and his friends whom he’d fought earlier had left the bar in the complete opposite direction to us, but Jimmy was having none of it. We sat there silent, time dragging on for more than fifteen minutes before Jimmy’s fried brain realised that I was correct in what I had said, and was not “just trying to suck the fun out the situation”, as Jimmy had so crudely put it.

Our odyssey through the silver of the night continued for another five minutes, Jimmy wreaking of alcohol and damp car park. The night was over, but the experience had just begun. In hindsight, Jimmy made a lot of tragically poor choices that night, but any form of consequences for his actions were non-existent. By some miracle, he kept his job and in his next appearance in my presence he appeared with only minute bruises exclusive to his lower back. The only retribution he faced was waking up early afternoon the next day to a blistering hangover. As for the bearded man and his friends, I haven’t heard Jimmy mention them since the incident.

Jimmy is likely a negative influence on me and anyone he has and will ever meet throughout his life, having already exposed me to drugs and violence after only knowing me for a couple of months. But what he has given me is worth more than most other friends could ever offer me; a lifetime experience. A life experience that will grip my conscience until the day of my final breathe, one that will guide me through significant paths of my life until I eventually witness something even more striking. Although I’m fairly sure Jimmy is a killer, I will stick by him as his best friend for as long as the nights are black and my blood runs red. I am his apprentice, and he is my best friend.

How to Get Banned from Your Neighbours House

For a nineteen year old male teenager, being banned from your own local pub is probably the worst thing that can happen. I wish my goldfish had died instead. This is genuinely how I feel. ‘The Tavern’ was a big part of my life. Four nights a week after work I would scramble to the bus stop, hop on a bus, bolt to my house, throw on a shirt and any kind of cheap Christmas gift standard aftershave, and then bomb it to the tavern (all three metres next door).

Major tragedy inbound: Due to my best friend deciding to carry what he called, the ‘dankest stinky stink green’ (weed) he had ever obtained, into the pub, and then roll it inside the tiny bathroom located directly behind the bar, we both faced a permanent ban stating that we could never step through the glorious black pine doors into The Tavern ever again. Just like that, my social life was obliterated into a million small pieces and thrown to the dogs.

The Tavern was a delightful wee pub located right next door to my house – that’s right, my own neighbours have banned me from their house. Everyone in the Tavern knew everyone, it was a very diverse family of learned drinkers. The jukebox was cheap (free Mon-Tues) and the banter was as sweet as the cider. The owners even had a small dog named ‘Stella’ that would pleasantly weave in and out the vintage furniture greeting all the regulars to a belly-rub invitation and a lick on the foot. Honestly, this pub is (was) the best thing since Gangnam Style.

I later found out what type of marijuana my friend was carrying, and it turned out to be the premium ‘tangerine dream’. Research told me that this dry and crispy weed is one of the most pungent type available on the market which likely explains why the bartender scouted the toilets instantly after my friend came out. Admittedly however, after smoking the ‘dank stuff’ at a bench in the woods the same night I was banned, it did bring me an abundance of salvation which brought with it a temporary blanket of comfort (or forgetfulness) over the horrific events of the previous hour that would almost certainly hit me like a torpedo in the morning upon my awakening to a killer hangover.

That last sip of Blackthorn cider at The Tavern will stay with me for eternity. Sure, I could just go to my local Asda and buy a large plastic bottle of the stuff for a cheaper price, but the junkie-like, wholesale essence to the taste will never match the ice-cold taste of a pint of cider in the place that existed as a major component of my life for just over a year. Now the closest I’ll ever get to that beautifully varnished wooden bar is through sticking my head into the fireplace and listening eagerly to the classic jokes and fables of some of the more ‘experienced’ drinkers at The Tavern.

It wasn’t even the alcohol that most attracted me to the The Tavern. On a good night I would only be able to skirt around the region of 3-4 pints before falling into a great pit of drunkeness. To be quite honest, I’m more surprised that I didn’t get barred the night I stepped into the dangerous territory of having six pints and broke the bathroom door off it’s hinges. At least I actually had something to do with that, unlike the current reason for my ban – I never possessed the drugs nor did I try to roll them into a joint in the bathroom. But, if you fly with the crows, you get shot with the crows, fair enough.

My legacy at The Tavern has now deceased and my social drinking life has entered into frantic turbulence.

‘But Frank, there are plenty of other pubs out there?’, they say. ‘Fuck off’, is what I say.