June 05, 2008

One Night Out Part I: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2008

I'd spent twenty-five minutes acquainting myself with the culture of suspenders. I am, as always, running a little late. "There's one thing I can trust when it comes to you," Lady C once told me. "And it is that you're always going to be late."

At least there was some understanding in a cold and cruel universe. I picked up the deli bag filled with Turkish delights, put on my mountain boots and headed out.

It was eight minutes to six. No way I was going to make it by means of public transportation. I wouldn't fit in anyway, with the smoking and the shirt, and I'd probably get robbed. A taxi-shark floated idly parallel to the Botanic garden and completely failed to notice my signal. "God damn it!"

I was going to have to walk to the line four blocks down, where taxis sputter exhaust like beached whales on some island in the pacific.

The taxi line is the means of cultural education of this country, and the results are always depressing. It's a murderous line, a high-danger sport, but not as early as six o'clock.

"Welcome!" the cabbie said very unmiserably. Change of pace, I was stressed, I gave the address and told him to step on it.

"But you are right," I said after catching up with current events. "With what you said about stressing. There's no reason in doing it. Being stressed ain't gonna get me there in time."

"You are right, my friend." Punjabi wisdom shone through a mist of mystery with a slight hint of Little Kariachi's finest.

"What's important," he continued, "is to care about the people you love. And to love. And be happy where you are with what you've got. We can only do our best."

We got there one minute to six and I recognized two of my party standing outside the restaurant. It felt like I had just been to a confession, so I gave him a bit extra for the care to talk bluntly.

Wearing my best, I stepped out of the cab and into the jubilee. It was a golden jubilee for a friend of the family. She had invited all of us to celebrate that she had not yet turned fifty. Hence we were not allowed to congratulate nor bring any presents, which suited me well. Welcome drinks, nice salon with champagne glasses, original art, idle chatter and endless pauses.

I was really hungry and the suspenders ill-adjusted. First time in ten years at least. Then I noticed the mountain boots. I had put on mountain boots going to one of the finest restaurants in this city. Or this country. Pieces of mud still clinging, too. I got another glass of champagne and retreated to the rear of the room, still waiting for the last guests to arrive.

It was a brilliantly composed menu, a culinary adventure going through fliers, swimmers and runners with delicate sauces and carefully selected wines. It was a four-course dinner with several side-plates. Cutlery came and went like love affairs, and the company was invariably loaded with style, avant-garde post-modernism, empty conversations, awe of the tastes and joy for the celebrated port-wine. At dessert time conflict arose in the paper-thin illusion of well-being, ever so sweet the sweets were.

While discussing the beautiful nature of this God-forsaken nation with the mafioso-like mother of the birthday child, Nigerian whores were turning tricks ten yards from the window where I sat. This restaurant was the former residence of a bastard child of the Royal House in Denmark. But the once so prominent streets of voluptuous decadence had fallen to social decay to allow for the pleasures of present day peasants.

My kind, to be true, but not permissible for the role I'd been dealt. I looked around at the other tables and the opinionated rich kids dining with their billion dollar parents filled me with disgust. They talked to each other like lawyers and clients, and truly what shenanigans given their mistresses and mischievous underhanded investments. In order to stay rich you’ve got to pump the poor, it's something everybody knows and no one really wants talked about. I was Oliver Twist on a high roll but I wouldn't ask for more. It made me sick.

Or was it the blessed port? I felt a queasy ache run down the sides of my torso only to make a nest of stinging pain around the belly bag. I got up but now I felt a cold sweat coming on. I could feel my face going pale as blood rushed southwards to see what the hell was going on. Other dinner guests stood up, with the belief I was going out to have a cigarette. To my dismay they followed me, I made up an excuse and headed down for the WC in the basement.

It was full.

The basement, which was an old wine cellar, had been turned into a very rustic-romantic restaurant for the slightly lower classes. This meant there was a second exit on this floor which would take me out to the backstreet without anyone from my party present. Without any of these thoughts in what split-second it took to perceive and pass judgment I headed head first into an alley and threw up a dorsal fin.

That was it. Nothing else came up. Blessed be the port.

Suddenly I noticed that I wasn't alone in the alley, and I looked up quick enough to see a prostitute coughing up a recognizable white substance. She looked up and for a brief time our eyes met. Only one window apart earlier, but out here we were both equally being sick. It was a strange moment of solidarity before conventions yet again refused any sense and drew an invisible curtain 'tween Norwegian and Nigerian. It was back to the rich bastards.

Sigge S. Amdal is a word wanker from Oslo, Norway.

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