Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This.

The day started off badly when I awoke in the bathtub. This was around 5AM, and I was not certain what had made me decide to curl up there, fully clothed, in the hostel's bathroom for the night; but I knew I didn't want to stay there, so I quickly pried out my contact lenses (by this point solidly adhered to my eyeballs), washed my face, and snuck into the dormitory next door. I figured I would sleep late, perhaps until 10AM, then go normally about my day in downtown Budapest.

When I did get up, after 11 o'clock, it was with a vicious Harpy of a hangover. How could this be, I asked myself, when I don't remember over-indulging last night? Then again, I didn't remember what had inspired me to crawl into the bathtub either, so I was going to have to accept the fact that I had indeed drunk too much and figure out how to get through the next few hours as painlessly as possible. This, I realized too late, is what comes of putting that old adage "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" into practice, and going out the previous night with a group of hard-drinking Australians and Irish to experience the city's nightlife.

An hour and a large mug of coffee later, I was still feeling god-awful, the inside of my head pounding like a punk drummer. Too much acidic caffeine on an empty, uneasy stomach is a bad idea, it turns out, and I was forced to retreat to the bathroom and converse extensively with the toilet. Great, I thought, there is no way the hostel receptionist missed hearing that, so now my current condition is obvious to all. I opted to return to bed and nap for a couple hours in order to relieve my headache (that was by now tempting me to rip out my own eyes), desperately hoping that my body would give me adequate warning should it require a return to the bathroom.

I slept all goddamn day. Or at least I stayed in bed for that duration. Much of the time there was spent mentally whimpering over my throbbing skull, alternately freezing or sweating under the covers, and cursing the over-affectionate couple sharing the room with me for their obnoxiously loud kissing and pillow talk. (Come on, people, this is what private rooms are made for!) Finally, around 6:30 in the evening, I arose and washed, determined to eat something and not allow an entire day in Budapest to pass by un-enjoyed. I decided to dine at the restaurant most recommended in town by my Lonely Planet guide, which turned out to be a mere five-minute walk from my lodgings.

Note to self, and to others: telling your body, "Fuck you, I am going to enjoy myself, whether you like it or not," then ordering a thick, creamy garlic soup for an appetizer—all shortly after having been physically ill—will NOT convince your body that you, and not it, are in control of the situation. I had just taken a second bite of my main course (a savory roasted pork and potato dish with vegetables) when my stomach strongly suggested that I figure out where this classy restaurant's classy restroom might be. Stumbling past the bemused hostess, annoyed waiters and oblivious diners, I eventually found the door with the desired "man" symbol, reminded every step of the way by my roiling midsection that I did not have much longer to delay. Resolute that I would not lose my dignity in front of Budapest's Sunday-evening crowd, I threw open the door, rushed past the one person standing at the urinal and into a blessedly free stall. Then, in absolute agony now, I proceeded to wait, hovering uncertainly over the porcelain bowl, still determined to not have one more witness to my misery. I don't know what the hell this guy was doing at his urinal, but my ears informed me that he was not using it for its intended purpose, nor was he leaving. Finally, defeated, I again leaned over the bowl and released the contents of my rich meal into (and slightly onto) it. Naturally, even in my distracted state, I could still hear the disgusted scoff of the man at the urinal, apparently believing the sounds emanating from my stall to be of a somewhat different nature. Having thus done his part to ensure my embarrassment, he finally left the restroom... and it was then that I discovered I had chosen a stall bereft of toilet paper.

Refusing to end the evening by abruptly fleeing the premises, I hid in the stall until a lull in the human traffic occurred, at which point I bolted out to the sink area and scavenged a handful of paper towels, returning to the scene of the crime with my contraband. A few passes with absorbent papers and the area was as good as new—and I even remembered not to flush them, gracefully sidestepping a potentially even more public disaster. Somewhat more composed, thanks to this triumph, I returned to my table freshened and refreshed, and—amazingly—managed to finish my meal without further incident. I even pushed my luck and bought an ice cream cone while taking a post-dinner evening constitutional down Budapest's scenic boulevards. Ah, to be young and to live dangerously.

Now, why did I decide to share this rather personal story with you (you may wonder)? Well, in part, to advise readers against drinking to the point that passing up your bedroom for the bathroom seems like a good idea. That, and I rather enjoyed having the opportunity to write a piece with such an unusual opening line. It turns out that there is a silver lining to regrettable moments resulting from decisions made under the influence, after all.


jin said...

That decides it.
You must eventually be a blogfan at my door for you will be fed healthy delicious foods as long as you can stay, resulting in a general sense of extreme well being and renewed energy. There is no puking while vacationing with moi. There is however, lots of pampering! Oh and chocolate too... you like chocolate, don't you D?!

Jay said...

Puke and rally at a nice restaurant? How very american in europe of you ;-) Let's be honest tho, you'd probably make the same choices if you did it again. life is short!

Dabbler said...

I would prefer to think of it as sheer determination to not lose an entire day to misery, but perhaps your analysis is apt. I'd also like to think that I wouldn't make the same choices in the same position, but then (hopefully) we'll never know.