My life has not changed at all. As in the last ten years, it is blessed by the stars and eschewed by the men. Be not afraid if time passes and there is no word from me, be not anxious by the tram-station nor blue when you're playing, because I have taken my destiny in my own hands. I have thought in light-years and I have suffered in seconds.
It is a strange contention that which circulates in the couloirs of the most educated that alcohol gets you laid. No doubt it removes inhibitions, but it degrades your seductive skills so powerfully that you probably couldn't run train with a blow-up doll. Of course, if both you and the lady are profoundly drunk (a recipe for a deeply spiritual experience, that), then something may click because neither of you are sober enough to figure that you're hitting on someone who is in fact pretty crusty, though the sex is unlikely to be very good.
These at least are the arguments I have always found to be the truth in my experience. However it appears that whenever I broach the subject with a fellow Englishman, it's like I've set off a competition and everybody is telling me of how many orgies they've been involved in when downing vodka like a well. I'd like to go back on the subject because it is one which I am pressed to understand. My own experiences with the ladies have not coincided at all with my introitus to alcohol. Part of it may be the fact that I reached both of them quite late - not out of virtue, but because I'd spent half of my waking life in adolescence getting pancaked on weed, which always left me so morose and apathetical I don't think I could have made myself an orange juice, much less hit the streets on double sambucas. Furthermore I seemed to have a pretty high tolerance to booze, so that those rare times when me and my friends did hit the pubs, the two or three shots I was willing to splash cash on would have all the effect on me of some kind of watered-down mug of lemonade. For this reason, I came to England under the confident belief that I could not get drunk.
I come to change that opinion rather quickly once I am in England. Since I share venues and events with other international students, I get to socialise with quite a few of them, and one, a nice dark-skinned girl called Jacqui, invites me to my first international party. Naturally I decide to accept.
I decide to walk it to the party with a Finnish guy I met on the campus square. The guy looks to me like a computer salesman on his first day of work in a foreign country, so I am not walking there with him because I appreciate his company, at least no more than you would that of a goldfish. Rather, it is the fact that I am freaking paranoid at the idea of getting lost. After walking for a few minutes in a pretty pleasant part of Norwich's suburbs, we reach the house. On the door-step, we meet Jacqui. She introduces us to her housemate, Tom, this glossy bloke with enough rasta hair on his head to rebuild the Colosseum with. He is wearing such a dashing pair of glasses that I cannot help but imagine him to have been taken straight out of a Where's Wally book. 'Come in, join us!' he encourages us.
I walk in. Immediately Jacqui places a plastic cup brimming with wine in front of my chest. 'Do you drink?' she asks. 'Oh, sometimes, but I'm immune to alcohol,' I respond.
That was the dumbest thing I ever said. Around me, it's like Babylon 5. I've never seen people from so many nationalities in such a small room. I walk up to a girl with the plastic cup in my hand and open a conversation:
'Hey, you a friend of Jacqui?' As I say that, I take a sip of the wine. Yo what the fuck? This stuff is so dismal that my lips curl upwards and my head spontaneously jerks back while I bring my hand to my mouth. How effing bad is this wine? I'm not a lover of alcohol in the first place, but what kind of a flavour is this? This is like a concentrate of lemon served in a cup of dried monkey shit. They could give it to a hoarde of pigs and it would give them stomach pains of fatal nature.
It goes without saying that my disgusted face is interpreted by the girl to whom I addressed my opening comment as some kind of coded way of walking up and saying, 'Good God, are you so inconceivably ugly by genetic disposition or did you happen to stare into the Vesuvius during the Pompeian eruption?' And obviously she walks away.
Bloody hell. Let's try again. I take another swig of the wine. It tastes like vinegar this time, so I guess we're making some kind of progress.
The 'progress' that I was making later became known within my circle of friends as the Koch curve, an expression taken out of a mathematical model which describes how to draw a line of infinite length within a finite area. How this was related to drinking wine remains to me as great a mystery as Stonehenge. In our case the turn of phrase described the tendency that student wine has of becoming more bearable in a measure proportional to the quantity of it that you drink while never actually reaching a taste which could be defined as 'good.'
'Student wine' is the expression used to describe a category of beverage which over my the course of my education became one of my closest companions, albeit not one of the most welcome at all. It is defined primarily by the fact that you can normally buy three bottles of the stuff for six pounds if you get it on the right day, and the way it sells out with students you'd think they gave free textbooks with it. It is also defined by the fact that it is disgusting. It is probably safe to assume that most students invest a good deal of their finances on these bottles not so much for the pleasure of drinking it (this possibility is so abstracted from my mind it must remain beyond my faculties of writing) but in the hopes that it would somehow get them laid. Frankly I'd have had better chances of getting laid at a Taleban wedding than at one of these student parties. I've never completely understood where the paradigm originated from that if you walk up to a girl as though you could not cross the road by yourself and are about to throw up like you've just had stomach surgery then she'll somehow find you so irresistibly cute that she'll immediately take you upstairs to her bedroom for a forty-eight hour shag-athon.
Even as a fresher, the equation 'drinking wine = increasing charm' strikes me as a strange attractor worthy of Edward Lorenz, but I think that there can be no harm in trying and that there can be no excessive ill coming from this anyway (because 'I'm immune to alcohol,' remember?). So I pick up another drink.
...aaaand I am running out of space. Will continue this tale in part II, in a couple of days' time!