In honor of the internet blackout campaign in response to the SOPA and PIPA bills, I present to you a tale of (nearly) blacking out. Learn more about stopping SOPA and PIPA, and then contact your state congressmen.
It came together quickly, on the spur of the moment. In hindsight, most nights centered on the act of binge drinking usually do. You wake up the next morning smelling like flat Irn-Brü and kebab sauce, trying to piece together the previous night but generally just thankful that you did, in fact, wake up.
Such were my reluctant expectations as I sped from Scotland’s Isle of Mull south to Glasgow where I would meet fellow travel blogger and man of mishap, Mike Sowden, for a night on the town. His blog’s subtitle is “The Art of Unfortunate Travel,” and it’ll all make sense when you read posts like the time he challenged himself to hike the North York Moors and nearly died.
I just hoped it wasn’t contagious.
Meeting people for the first time after you’ve spent (in some cases) years conversing on the Web is always a bit awkward, but the more I travel and meet such folks the more normal it becomes. I waited on the corner of Sauchiehall Street and Kelvingrove Park, soaking in the blue sky and sun and appreciating the city vibe after three weeks on lonely islands. When Mike strolled up carrying a backpack full of Yorkshire tea, I knew we’d get along just fine.
Anyone who’s familiar with getting blootered, wrecked, bladdered, hammered, or smashed knows the first thing you need to do is get some food in your stomach, preferably something bland and stabilizing that can fight the forthcoming rush of liquid mayhem. Naturally, we stopped at Mother India Café for an early dinner. Nothing says bland and unobtrusive like Indian food.
Next stop: BrewDog, right around the corner. BrewDog positions itself as the punk rockers of craft brewing, and they do a damn fine job of it. Their proprietary bars can be found in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Camden, and they’re making “beers” as strong as wine and cask-strength whisky. Beer as strong as whisky. That is punk rock. The bar itself has a carefully crafted brand image that I could live without, but the beers on the blackboard are exciting.
Our stomachs roiling with curry and hellish hot peppers, I order us a couple of “Hops Kill Nazis,” which I hope also kills acid reflux. Mike says beer makes him act funny – he’s more of a whisky drinker (uh oh!) – so I avoid a devilish 32% ABV beer called “Tactical Nuclear Penguin.” A less principled man may have taken the opportunity to see someone “act funny” that I just passed up. I’m still kicking myself.
We chat about travel and entrepreneurship, many of the same things we discuss on Twitter, Facebook, and Skype, but this time with the strange addition of facial features, vocal inflections, and body language. The “Hops Kill Nazis” is secretly powerful. That’s the only explanation for me thinking that human interaction is strangely amazing as we left.
We cut across Kelvingrove Park as clouds roll in and hide the sunset. I’m looking for a pub called Uisge Beatha that Sarah and I visited in 2006. We find it, only now it’s called Dram! and all the attractive kitsch and homey gloom have been replaced by lifeless out-of-the-box décor.
We order a couple whiskies anyway, and decide to sit outside as a slight drizzle descends. A couple hen parties swoop in as I tell a story lamenting my inherent laziness; am I in my cups already? Mike suggests that, based on what he just heard, I’m actually an incredibly hard worker, so I know he’s absolutely wrecked. Surly, too, as I took the picture above just as he’s about to punch me in the face with the dregs of his whisky triple.
Darkness descends and the ambience of Dram! is more than we can stomach. We decide to check out a recommendation from Jamie Milne, one of Glenfiddich’s brand ambassadors who I met in Craigellachie earlier in the year, and head over to the Ben Nevis pub. The path takes us back through Kelvingrove Park. At night. It’s a move I’ve recommended against several times on this very blog, but I figure no one’s going to jump two escapees from the nearby insane asylum. We were, after all, speaking in the convoluted and over-complicated dialect of H.P. Lovecraft and laughing maniacally. Like some twisted game of rock, paper, scissors, bald-faced insanity always beats petty violence.
Ben Nevis is a revelation of whisky. Beautiful bottles stand on blue glass shelves and angled wooden ledges. After water and lemonade (hey, we’re old), more whisky. The bar is standing room only, and a short man with an indecipherable Glaswegian accent continually butts into our conversation to ask if I’m American. I’ve never felt so novel. I confirm with him that, yes, I am indeed American and ask if he’d like to hear my John Wayne impression. Things start to get fuzzy.
The night comes to an end. God, it must be near dawn. We say our goodbyes on the street, promise to meet up again, that kind of thing. We will. There’s more analysis of Battlestar Galactica and Skyrim to conduct.
We shuffle our separate ways. Back at the Alamo I crash onto my bed and look at my phone. 9:30 PM.