Monday, 11 August 2008

The Vodka Prank

They're witty, these Indians. I suppose that giving you a free dessert after a meal which would last a consummate man two months is just a phenomenal method they've found for giving you the perfect bitch-slap - as in, even if you manage to win the chef's challenge, all you'll get will be a serving that you couldn't possibly eat. It's like they're laughing at you.

However we Europeans also have our great share of wit (except for the French, of course - no, sorry, that's not true, I was just being witty). Let me prove it. Lacing back to the time I had that great dinner with the Indians, the actual party for the birthday, held on a different day from the dinner on account of the fact that getting through the meal plus the party right after it would have been like taking part in D-Day, saw me devising a plan of great deviousness.

You see, I'm in love with practical jokes. They are practical forms of stories, and stories are so much more spicy and savoury than the truth (which is why I almost never speak the truth, and people think I lie, when I'm really such a romantic poet), and illusory drama has all the good things about true drama without all the bad aspects (like, the consequences). Hell, I love jokes even when they're impractical (and there goes the bomb pun of the day, check me out, irony is folding up on me now like a cannibalistic duvet).

So, to resume, on that night I was offered a challenge. I was invited to a drinking competition. This in itself may sound like ordinary administration, if it weren't that the guy who was throwing the glove in my face was this one fat Indian guy whom I had met something like the previous October and who within thirty-two seconds of my meeting him had already challenged me to a drinking competition, a fact which initially made me crease my eyebrows but which I eventually took on full-storm like Henry at Agincourt, seeing how it was that the guy just wouldn't shut the fuck up and kept calling me a 'sissy' and other terms of not extraordinary subtlety. So we had this damn challenge, and by the end of it he looked like he had tripped in the middle of Oxford Street while a parade of steamrollers was passing on it for an exhibition tour. I have never seen a person so difficult to detach from the concrete. Eventually it took three of us to walk him up to his room and throw him on the bed.

After an experience like that, you'd expect a guy to become not necessarily subdued, but at the very least a little more humble. Instead the day that I next met him it was like mistakenly walking into Achilles' tent while he was taking a shit (and after the death of Patroclus). He raged and fretted and propelled spittle and outright asserted that he had 'won' the drinking competition because he had had more to drink overall than I had. I'll admit I sometimes get incensed too easily, but this dink motherfucker was starting to catapult my balls to Pluto with all his banter. "Look here, you blathering nincompoop," I told him, red with rage and pointing a finger, "I have quite had my full with your prodigious drivel, your pompous smack and your unbearable conceit, you self-important, steatopygous rasp. I challenge you, do you hear me, I challenge you." For a long time we spoke about a rematch, but we didn't see much of each other and nothing ever happened. Then, this one time, we meet on one of the lanes of the college and it turns out that he's coming to this party for my flatmate's birthday. Obviously he starts taunting me about a rematch. So I accept.

Now this is where the cunning bit comes in. (This is also, incidentally, one of those moments when I'm glad that this blog is anonymous, because I seriously think some people could give my name to the police for what I'm about to recount). Together with my flatmate, we purchase two identical bottles of vodka; subsequently, we empty one of them into a separate container, and fill it up with water. Then I keep the water bottle for myself, and hand over the one still filled with vodka to him. 'Let us sport,' I tell him, with a challenging eye. And take a shot of water. The guy follows me in, and we have a full drinking competition, me dunking from a bottle of water, he trying to keep up with the vodka.

Looking back on it, I can see it wasn't such a great idea. Even if he hadn't been vomiting like the fountain of Trevi by the time we were doing five shots in a row and swigging straight from the bottle like cormorans, there would still have been something unethical about encouraging him to physical self-destruction the way I did. And to be fair, that vodka was heavy. I didn't want to skin myself for something so stupid, so I had purchased something which could have been produced at the back of an oil pump station for all I knew and which came at, like, five quid for a bottle. A few days later I found myself wandering back to my room with a couple of Americans because we'd come back from a barbecue and were neither tired nor drunk enough to sleep, and I found the vodka I had originally put away to be preserved inside a jar for tomato passata. We started drinking from that, and let me tell you, within two shots of the stuff my stomach was getting so contorted and rebellious you'd think it had been reading War and Peace. We had to dilute it with Coke and Fanta to go anywhere beyond that. The thought of that Indian guy dunking a whole bottle of it suddenly became tinged with much more heroic linings. I started feeling guilty. Then again, after the vodka we had some brandy and after that we went back to the beer and after that I wasn't guilty anymore. And even if I had been, what I felt the next morning must surely count for expiation. "Crikey," as they say over here (which still doesn't come close to describing it.

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