Look On The Bright Side, Mr. Prime Minister, It Could Have Been Worse


So Prime Minister Gordon Brown of England makes the TransAtlantic journey to Washington, gifts in tow. By now, I am sure you’ve all read how he presented President Obama with a handsome pen holder fashioned from the HMS Gannet, a navy vessel that served on anti-slavery missions off Africa; the framed commission for HMS Resolute, a vessel that came to symbolize Anglo-US peace when it was saved from ice packs by Americans and given to Queen Victoria; and finally a first edition set of the seven-volume classic biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.

President Obama handed the Prime Minister a basket with 25 DVDs in it.

Forget that the DVDs can’t be played on a British DVD player, or that the PM’s two sons sort of got dissed as well, receiving a pair of model helicopters from the White House gift shop, or that Obama decided to use the Prime Minister’s visit to get him to take back the bust of Winston Churchill that was presented to President Bush after 9/11. I say forget it because we’ve all been there. We’ve all gotten something way better than we’ve given (granted we don’t have the experience of the State Department to fall back on), and we’ve all given something better than what we’ve gotten.

That’s right, we’re getting back into Soupy’s Time Machine. Dateline- Early 1990.

I was head over heels in love with a brace-faced busgirl that worked at the restaurant with me. Her hair, although long, sort of resembled a poodle’s coat, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care because she was the first person who ever let me put my penis in their vagina. So I held her in high regard.

It was relatively early in our relationship, and she had some weekend ski trip planned with her friend Lisa (oh yea, let’s call my girlfriend “Tina”), another busgirl at the restaurant. Lisa spoke with a lisp that was more annoying than cute. I remember Tina telling me over and over that the trip had already been planned, but she wouldn’t go if I didn’t want her to.

ME: (like a naïve ass) No, go. Are you kidding? It sounds like a great time.

It didn’t occur to me until later, probably years, that she not only slept with someone on the trip, she actually brought him with her. It’s a good thing I didn’t realize it at the time or I never would have surprised her with a pair of $200 skis upon her return. She didn’t have anything for me, but I wasn’t expecting anything anyway, and she did continue to give up the pu-ha (sure it had to be pitch dark in the room, but that was just so I wouldn’t see the hickeys from the other guys), so that was gift enough for me. Besides, Valentine’s Day was coming up, I’m sure she was planning something especially nice for me.

I had found what I thought to be the perfect VD (that’s Valentine’s Day) gift for her.  It was this huge CD boom-box (another $200+ item) that they had the nerve to call portable although it weighed a ton. Keep in mind it was 1990, and these things weren’t everywhere.  It may have even been a multi-disc player, I don’t remember anymore. Anyway, Valentine’s Day came, I prepared dinner for her at my parent’s house (they were out of town). I tried to make veal in a white wine sauce, broccoli, and some sort of potato. What can I say, I was a romantic bastard.

Dinner was over, and we sat at the table finishing a bottle of wine.

ME: I have something for you.
TINA: Oo, go get it. (Not the response of someone who has gotten you something special too)
ME: I’ll be right back, try not to miss me too bad.  (schmoopie)

I returned in a few minutes with the wrapped box, which she wasted no time in unwrapping. I think the skis let her know that I knew how to give a gift. I watched her smile stretch from ear to ear as she exposed more and more of the CD player.

TINA: I wish I had a CD with me.
ME: I’ll be right back.

I ran up to my room and tried to find the coolest CD I had (she was into Skid Row and Guns ‘n’ Roses). I returned with my Best of Journey.

ME: It sounds good, huh? The player, I mean.
TINA: Yea. (still smiling) Oh yea, I have something for you. It’s out in the car. Do you mind?

I grabbed her keys and headed out to the backseat where she said it was.

ME: Is this it? (I was holding up a brown paper bag which had taken the shape of its contents – a bottle)
TINA: Yep. Open it.
ME: Rumple Minze. My favorite. Thank you, honey. (not realizing how that bottle’s and my paths would cross in the very near future)

EDITOR’S NOTE:  If you are keeping score that’s a pair of skis and a portable CD player for her, and a bottle of liquor for me. Wait, at some point she had also given me a stuffed pig which she took the liberty of naming Mr. Touchy. I know there are a lot of guys out there who would have used the disparity in gift giving to press for anal sex, but I was nowhere near that smooth or experienced, and if you’ve been following my blog for a while you already know my take on that.

Meanwhile back in 1990. 
Cut to the very near future. It’s a Saturday afternoon, probably around one o’clock. I am scheduled to work at four-thirty that afternoon. A phone rings.

ME: Hello?
TINA: Um, hi.
ME: What’s up?
TINA: I don’t think we should go out anymore.
ME: (reeling) What? Why?
TINA: I just don’t want to.
ME: Can I see you?

I put the phone down. I couldn’t believe what just happened. I opened the freezer and found my Valentine’s gift in the back and poured myself a healthy slug, then another, and another. I kept pouring and drinking, not necessarily in that order, until two-thirds of the bottle was gone.

ME: Holy shit.

I had looked at the clock and it looked like it was three o’clock. I had to get ready for work, and the 100 proof Devil Drink was starting to take hold. I made it up to my room, turned on my CD player and wailed my way through Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U about six times in a row, clenching Mr. Touchy all the while. I would have gone for a seventh, but I had to get into the shower.

The last thing I remember before passing out was sitting on the edge of my bed in my towel, and looking at the clock. Four o’clock, just enough time and get dressed and get to work.

The phone rang again, it was my boss.

ME: (groggy) Hello?
CHRIS: Dude, where the fuck are you? It’s seven-thirty.
ME: I’ll be right there (unsure of where there was). I just gotta finish getting ready.
CHRIS: *click*

I put the phone down and looked at the clock, which agreed with Chris. I stood up. The distrust I had of my own legs would have made a newborn foal laugh. I caught a glimpse of the stuffed pig on the bed, the first phone call of the day replayed in my mind only louder. I sat back down, but it didn’t stop the room from spinning. WORK! I had to get to work. I did the best I could with my hair, but it was still pretty much a mess, and I was practically crippled from the Rumple Minze.

I walked up the hallway to the maitre’d stand.  I was quickly learning what the phrase “blind drunk” meant.  I heard my boss’ voice.

CHRIS: Go home.
ME: I’m fine, I’m here. Sorry, Tina broke up with me.
CHRIS: I know. Go home.

I looked beyond Chris, and she was standing there in that stupid busgirl uniform. I had totally forgotten that we worked together. All of a sudden, going home seemed like a damn fine idea. And I knew Mr. Touchy was waiting for me.

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