I was on top of the world again. I still had that gnarly statutory rape charge hanging over my head, but I didn’t care: What were the laws of god or man when it came to true love, Dionysus? Isadora and I were meant for each other, and I had a Polaroid in my back pocket to prove it. In my inexperienced teenage mind, the prospect of denying myself my one true love* was far more punishing than any prison sentence. I’d eat baloney sandwiches and drink pruno and play pinochle for all eternity for her, mate.
Our day of departure had finally arrived and I had my girl back and I was leaving for Europe with two of my closest friends and I couldn’t care less about anything else. My mother drove us to the airport in her minivan, and she was full of all sorts of advice for us. She had gone to school in Europe as a teenager, so she was trying to give us an idea of what to expect and how to conduct ourselves. After all, Europeans are much different from Americans, and we wouldn’t want to come across as philistine tourists. But she was also my mother, after all, so she had the standard maternal cautionary instincts going too.
“I wish you boys wouldn’t, but I know that you may find yourself in a situation where you meet a girl you may, uh, hit it off with. If this happens, just make sure that you’re, uh, protected. The dollar to Euro exchange rate is pretty bad right now so you certainly don’t want to end up paying child support for a Germanic love child.”
Ok, maybe she didn’t say the last bit, but it was true regardless.
She needn’t have worried about us, Dionysus. Yorick had had the same girlfriend for years and there was absolutely no way he would ever cheat on her. As for me, I was entirely rededicated to my one true love, and I would never, ever, ever stray, not even in the face of realizing any Nazi dominatrix fantasy I might have secretly harbored at the time. And as for Franky, well, he was a virgin, and the possibility of him scoring some foreign strange was a pretty remote one.
She also told us that we shouldn’t drink too much over there, but I think even she knew that that was a futile suggestion to make; half** of the allure of going to Europe was the fact that we could probably get wasted a lot more easily than we could at home.
However, I assured Mother that she had absolutely nothing to worry about. She dropped us off at the airport, showered us in hugs and kisses, and off we went. This was my first time at an airport, Dionysus. I remember looking at all of the people bustling about with their luggage and thinking to myself, I hope none of these people are going to Germany. Because I was trying to get away from America and Americans and I was the only American worthy of travelling to Europe, Dionysus (except for Yorick and Franky of course).
We made our way through the post-911 security check quagmire after a minor delay that involved the screeners taking me into the VIP line.*** (Ive been taken into this line every single time ive gotten on a plane). They dug my Chuck Taylors so much that they made me take them off so they could inspect them closer; they dug my lighter so much that they insisted upon keeping it. I obliged them on both counts and off we went, infinitely grateful for the Patriot Act and its freedom-protecting provisions.
We were en route to our terminal when we were approached by a young girl not much older than us. She was early twenties at most, skinny, with porcelain pale skin and short-cropped dyed red hair.
“Excuse me boys, are you in band?”
The heavy Russian accent simultaneously threw me for a loop and turned me on incredibly, Dionysus. I wasn’t even out of the country yet, and I was already having carnal thoughts about European girls– the first one I laid eyes on, in fact. But I still had that Polaroid in my back pocket and Isadora in the back of my mind.
“Well, actually, Yorick here and myself (my name’s Rateval by the way) are in a band.”
Which was true, mate: We had just started a band, even though we didn’t really have a drummer or songs yet, although I didn’t find that to be in any way relevant to the line of questioning at the time.
“I knew it! I love punk rock back in Russia. You guys are like Sex Pistols.”
I guess I kind of had a Sid Vicious look going on and Yorick could maybe pass for Johnny Rotten, but I’m not sure who she thought Franky was in that allusion. Perhaps Glen Matlock? Whatever. I just went with it.
“Have you punks heard the Hare Krishna?”
Chick went from Sex Pistols to Hinduism just like that, Dionysus, and the next thing I knew, I was boarding my plane with a copy of the Bhagavad Gita that I had “donated” ten dollars for. Always a sucker for a skirt– especially a foreign one, love. All things considered, I got off pretty cheap that time.
We were flying Air France and it was pretty fantastic: The seats were comfortable, the stewardesses were attractive and had exotic accents, and the food was enjoyable. I must admit that I was a little nervous when the plane took off (it was my first time flying, after all), but once we were in the air, I was digging it. Then the stewardess came around and asked us if we wanted anything to drink. I looked at the boys, then at the stewardess.
She didn’t bat an eye at me, and pretty soon the three of us were drinking champagne. International waters, mate. God bless Air France.
We kept drinking champagne until she cut us off; I suppose we must have exceeded our booze quota. But what the French didn’t know is that, even at that age, I didn’t take too kindly to being cut off, and I would find a way to get more sauce, consequences be damned.
So I waited until most of the passengers were sleeping (it was a fourteen hour flight) and the attendants were away and I snuck into the galley and stole two bottles of champagne to bring back to my seat.
I believe the French have a word for that, Dionysus: panache.
I panached the fuck out of that champagne. Yorick and Franky did, too. We must have grown pretty boisterous, because the French guy seated in front of us with his wife and son kept shooting us backwards annoyed glances. We didn’t pay them much mind, but then those glances turned into scolding words. I couldn’t translate the words (Parlez-vous, fuck you?****) but I could translate the tone just fine: Monsieur was pissed.
We laughed it off and kept carrying on as we pleased, drinking champagne and acting obnoxiously. Monsieur must have figured that we weren’t catching his drift well enough, so he took a different course of action: he reclined his seat all the way back, so that it was practically in Yorick’s lap.
However, Yorick did not appreciate this very much. He tapped on the back of the seat.
“Could you please put your seat up?”
Monsieur just sneered back.
“Do you understand what I’m saying? Put your seat up.”
Vive le Sneer.
“PUT YOUR FUCK-ING SEAT UP!”
Yorick punched the back of Monsieur’s seat repeatedly as to accentuate every syllable he was saying. The sneer was replaced with a look of absolute horror as this poor Frenchman folded his seat into a ninety degree angle.
He didn’t look back or say a word for the rest of the flight, and when we got off in Paris for our layover, the champagne had worn off enough that I was feeling a little badly about our mistreatment of Monsieur, although I soon forgot all about him.
But I believe the French have a saying for that too: Loin des yeux, loin du cœur.*****
</3 Sir Rateval Hurtlinge
P.S. As far as religious scriptures go, the Bhagavad Gita ain’t half bad.
*As it turns out, every girl I would ever enter into a relationship with would become my “one true love.” Funny how that works, isn’t it?
**Probably more than half, which is why we planned our trip around Oktoberfest.
***I have been afforded this special privilege every single time I have ever flown. I must exude an aura of jihad.
****+1 punk points for the Criminals reference. I hope you’re keeping score.
*****”Out of sight, out of mind.”