People sometimes ask me why I’m not religious. I usually tell them it’s just the way God made me, with a smile that shows just how clever I think I’m being. It’s just a cover though. The real reason is much more profound. When I was about fifteen I went along to a friend’s church youth group. Don’t ask me why – I did a whole bunch of stupid shit when I was fifteen. Anyway this evening I went along they piled a whole bunch of us into a bus and took us all the way to fucking Kilkeel of all places, to meet up with a bunch of other church groups for one mass night of fun and games. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t play games, and I fucking hate fun. But I did what I always do – I stayed quiet and tried not to attract any attention to myself. And it worked. It worked right up until the last game of the night. It wasn’t much of a game, really. They played some music, two people would dance, the music would stop, two more people would join in, and so on until everyone was up dancing. The catch was every time the music stopped the girl changed partners, and guys could only start dancing once a girl chose to dance with them. You know where I’m going with this.
I didn’t get picked. Every fucker in the room was up dancing and I was sitting there, the social equivalent of the fat kid in PE class. But it gets worse. As an award for being the most rejected person in the room, the leader of the group produced a broom, which he insisted I dance with for the last dance. This is like someone buying you a shot of Jager when you already feel like puking. If you don’t drink it you look like a party pooper, if you do drink it you may end up being an even worse kind of pooper, and everyone will laugh at you. I chose the getting laughed at option. I danced with the fucking thing. And while I was twirling that broom around I thought two things. First I wondered which Slayer album I should buy first. Then I thought, at least I’ll never feel this rejected again as long as I live. And that’s the way it was right up until Friday, when I called Will.
‘Hey man, have we got a candidate for the gig tonight?’
‘Um, no, actually we don’t.’
‘What, you still haven’t picked one? You’re leaving it kind of late man.’
‘No I mean no one applied.’
‘Yeah, no one wants to go to a gig with you.’
‘I don’t believe you.’
‘Okay so I do believe you. I suppose I just got my hopes up.’
‘Yeah if I were you I wouldn’t do that any more in life,’ said Will, and I didn’t know how to respond. I hung up and couldn’t help the image from popping into my head – me at the gig, swilling a pint of Guinness, with a shitty old broom propped up next to me. I opened a new bottle of Jack.
I put a pretty serious dent in the bottle before I left the house and by the time I got to Spring and Airbrake I was pretty well buzzed. Then, standing in the queue, I suddenly started to worry that there might have been some sort of miscommunication and my name wouldn’t be on the list. I’d look like a damn fool trying to waltz in without a ticket. I thought about running away to a bar to get drunk. Then I thought about running away to New York to be an ad man in the Sixties, and I realised I was a lot drunker than I thought. I couldn’t possibly afford a flight to New York. But the boy who danced with the broom still lives somewhere inside me, and these days he has the advantage of being a pisshead. I ventured forth, and I got in no problem. Like a boss, in fact. To celebrate my boss-like qualities I ordered a shot and a brew and took a seat. The problem is after that I wasn’t content choosing between whiskey and beer, and every trip to the bar meant one more of each. Then single measures weren’t enough, so my order became a double Jack and a bottle of Stella. Over and over.
Then even a double and a bottle wasn’t enough for me, and I decided they ought to be combined. Hell, I was drinking for two, and celebrating the fact that I’m a legitimate music journalist and I don’t even pay for tickets any more! So I mixed up a boilermaker and drank it down. It sat fairly well, and I went back to drinking my whiskey and beer separately. Then came the second sign of trouble. On my way back from the can, two drinks still at my table, I decided I shouldn’t pass a bar without stocking up, so I bought another double just for the hell of it. And that’s when I lost track of what I was drinking. The third and final sign of impending doom.
By the time the music really got going things are fairly hazy. I can’t even remember the name of the support act, but I remember making a mental note to recommend them. If you can find out who they were, check ‘em out. The Hold Steady, whose name I did manage to remember, were fucking awesome. Unpretentious, straightforward rock n roll played with tonnes of enthusiasm. Surprisingly good drinking music also, if my performance that night is anything to go by. You should get your hands on a Hold Steady album and listen to some rock music played by guys who still enjoy playing rock music.
After the gig things go from hazy to a complete blank. I know I went next door to Katys and I know I got another double, acting purely on drunken instinct. After that, I don’t remember shit until I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been licking the open sores of a bubonic plague victim…
[Editor's Note: Jesus!]
…and I decided not to drink ever again. I also decided it was a blessing in disguise that I was on my own because I have no idea just how much of a tit I made of myself, and frankly I don’t want to know. So yeah, I’m getting all defensive and saying I’m glad none of you wanted to hang out with me! Now excuse me, I have a date with a rather fetching Dyson.
[Editor's Note: Excessively obscene fellatio joke removed.]