Monday, April 4, 2011

The Seldom Seen Kid

I was kidnapped at half six on Thursday. We drove into town, heading towards the O2 Arena. He hadn't been there before, since it was renovated a few years ago. He asked halfway there if I had the tickets, then laughed at the idea that I would forget them. Needless to say, I told him about the time I forgot to bring some ID to a gig last year and had to get my brother to drive it in for me.

The original plan was the head into the O2 at eight, but we ended up getting there at around seven, maybe a bit later, finding our way to stage right and staying there for the night. I say staying there, we got drinks - Carlsberg, tasted like piss and alcohol the first time around - and after The Villagers had done their set, we moved along. The Villagers were actually really good! I hadn't really listened to them very much beforehand, despite my brother giving me a loan of one of their albums.

The announcement came: it was a totally no-smoking arena. There was some mild swearing, some agitation, and then he decided he needed to go to the toilet. We went the long way around - really we didn't know where we were going, but we'll just call it the scenic route past the girls' bathroom - and lo-and-behold, a smoking area! I've never seen someone look so happy to find a smoking area in my life. He'd been giving out that I didn't mention it was no-smoking in the arena before we went in. Well, not really giving out, more like complaining. This was something I should have checked before I left my house.

We got more Carlsberg - mainly because there were no spirits that I might have otherwise drank, even though I can't really stand Vodka - and yes, it tasted like piss, but I finished this one. The key was to drink it quicker, before it got warm. I then made the mistake of showing him I was done, but actually using sekrit-drink-code for "Want another round?" My bad! We waited a little bit - Elbow were already on stage at this point - and got the drinks as Neat Little Rows played.

There was a lot of "interactive audience bullshit" during the concert - that's what Guy Garvey called it - like raising hands in the air and singing along to With Love. That one was good: sing it like you're breathing in on "with" and breathing out on "love". Then get several thousand people to join in with you. Fantastic.

He began a series of love songs by asking was anyone in the audience in love. Some people put up their hands. Then, was there anyone in love with another person present, but that person didn't know! Naturally my friend - with only a little bit of alcohol in his system - turned to me, laughing, and shouted, "I love you Paul!" We drank to that, and kept laughing.

He'd dubbed some girls  near us as lesbians. I suppose if you wanted to interpret things like holding handbags for each other and one of them having very short hair and some hugging as lesbian actions, and if you had a little bit of alcohol in your system and no shame, you very easily could think they were lesbians. The joke was fun, anyway. It began with "Can you spot the lesbian?" and simply turned into "Look, lesbians." Good times.

On a more serious note, can all my female readers please tell that they don't spend the whole concert talking over the music? Because it's kind of annoying to everyone else there to hear a dozen women (they actually were women, mind) chatting away the entire time Elbow were on stage. And, you know, every other band. The only reason no one punches the talkers is because it's a bit disrespectful (and, you know, a slight overreaction to a bit of talking), but really everyone is hating the voice of the person who starts talking and doesn't stop.

Grounds For Divorce came on at one point. If you don't know, the lyrics begin with "Mondays is for drinking to the seldom seen kid." My friend turned to me, "I am the seldom seen kid!" Naturally, my response could only be, "I know! You bastard!" Good times.

When the gig ended - and it was all pretty awesome! - we went to the pub near God College. He went on the Guinness, I went on the rum and coke, and we started talking about just about everything that came to mind. The place was empty, which we didn't mind one bit; we could talk in peace, without the constant interruptions of friends. It was the first time it had ever just been the two of us and no one else in a pub, or anywhere, really, where it was actually possible to talk about things. Nobody in pubs cares what the strangers at the bar are talking about.

Obviously, I won't divulge all the topics we covered in our long discussions, but we shared a lot of stuff with each other that normally only really gets said at three in the morning when he's walking home from the pub and he calls me when I'm in bed, and in those cases I'm sober but tired, and he's drunk. In this case, in the pub, we were both getting a little bit drunk, and as a result of my climb the day before, I was very tired. So, midway of the conversation, I went to just put my head on the bar for like a second...

Nobody said things move quicker when you drink. I wasn't advised on all these little things about alcohol before I started drinking. It was my second time being drunk. So, I had a slight bar-to-head collision. You know I regretted it immediately.

Following a brief chat with a couple of the girls from college who were moving on to an over twenty-ones night club in town - which is why we didn't go, me being only twenty - we got to the stage of the night where we began to make promises with each other. Again, secrets. But they meant a lot to me, both the ones I made and the ones said to me.

Our talk continued outside the pub as we waited for someone to get home to let the seldom seen kid sleep in one of the beds in the house, by invitation of the owner, who wasn't presently in the county. He smoked, I wobbled (then sat down quickly), and while the conversations were quite serious, it was still some of the best fun I'd ever had. Dublin city is completely different at night when your drunk and with your best friend than when you're sober and alone; it seems less harsh than it can be, freer and wilder and the darkness is nothing but a backdrop as opposed to an all-consuming curtain pulled around the lonely street lights that barely taint the world orange.

I left at half three, as he and a few others attempted to get a key for the house - don't ask. We said our goodbyes, and not for the first time that night told each other that the night was only as good as it was because of the other person. I got into a taxi and headed home...

Normally, that's where my stories end, with me going home. And while the taxi ride was less than eventful, the night wasn't over. I got in the door, locked up, the works. I was drunk but I hadn't actually drank anything in an hour, so I was more coherent and less wobbly than I would have been if I'd gone straight home - which I almost did, except I decided to wait with him. I headed up the stairs and there she was - the mother. She asked me a few times if I was okay, if I was drunk - then she smelled the rum, and she knew the answer - and I kept wondering why she was asking if I was okay. I told her I was fine, had her go off to bed and went to brush my teeth - even drunk I don't forget. That's when I saw it - the mark on my head from when I'd had my bar-accident. I let out a laugh - more like a sigh, but happy - realised it wasn't sore unless I actually poked it, and even then I could only just feel it (it wasn't that big, either, thankfully) and went to bed.

I woke up hungry. I had a slight headache and realised it was half-eight - too little sleep. I got a drink of water, then my breakfast, and I was grand. I was still remembering things from the night this morning. It wasn't that the alcohol made me forget. I think it was more to do with the fact that the nine hours I'd spent with the seldom seen kid were all melting together, and it took some time for it all to spread out so I could remember all the secrets and all the promises and all the silly little things we talked about.

It was the best night out in my life. And I said that about my birthday, but this was so much better, because it wasn't a night where it's easy to believe it's all about you. This was a night I'd been looking forward to for months - I bought the tickets in October - and that I had been getting excited for for the past few weeks, and all my fears about him not being able to show up were washed away even before we drank. I got to see my best friend, talk about things that really mattered to both me and him; I got to see one of my favourite bands play live; I got to relax and enjoy myself without worrying about college the next day. It was a night with no bad consequences - I still don't think the bar-accident was bad, since it's something to laugh about now and laugh about then, and it doesn't hurt and it didn't impair. I don't think the night could have been better.


Anonymous said...

"Kidnapped at half six on tuesday" you bought the tickets you spastic in OCTOBER no less

Paul Carroll said...

I'm not entirely sure who are you (hiding behind anonymity) but I need to point out a couple of things: firstly, I said Thursday. Secondly, I refer to many things as kidnap which aren't, like arranging to hang out with a friend for an afternoon. This was one of those things. Just a joke.