Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Well, It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time...

Originally posted by Scott.

When I was a younger man, I played rugby.

I played on a Rugby team that had a drinking problem, unlike the ones I’ve played on lately, which are drinking teams that have a rugby problem. One year, we went on our annual Rugby tour to the fair country of Italy – Venice, to be precise. Nice town. Expensive as shit. Not as fun as Amsterdam the year before, but all said and done, a good place to travel if you get the chance.

Now, let me start the story by saying that the first rule of Rugby Tours is much the same as the rule for trips to Vegas – What goes on Tour, stays on Tour.

Yeah, right!!!!!

If you can remember the story, you should tell it – that’s how legends are made.

Like the story of my mate Andy (who features later) who woke up in the wrong bed. No big deal. Except, he woke up in the same bed as another player. Okay, I guess. Except the bed was against the wall, and Andy was lying next to the wall. Uhmm. Okay. Except, the bed was a bunk bed, and you got it – they were on the top bunk. We never did figure that story out.

Anyway, we went on tour with 30 players, plus associated coaches, family, significant others and general hangers on looking for a good excuse to get ploughed for a week. 30 players. 5 games. 15 players per game. Now, stay with me here, this means that, at most, you should be playing 3 games during a one week tour.

The deal every evening was that the team for the next day would be posted by about 8.00 p.m., after which you would figure out whether you could go get hammered, or had to take it easy for the night. Come the Wednesday evening at 8.00 p.m. nothing had been posted. Come 8.30 p.m., still nothing. By 9.00 p.m., my mates Andy, Charlie and I were getting kind of hungry. So, being intelligent, rational individuals, we started weighing the likely team for the next day. We figured that since we had already played two games, and since we were all guaranteed to be playing in the last game, that would be our three, so we were safe for the evening.

We headed out for the evening; you know, the usual thing – pizza and beer (by the way, good pizza those Italians folks – who knew?). We then hit a few bars, and drinking ensued - beers, shots, more beer, cocktails. Oh, and some beer. As I say, the usual.

It’s not that we were trying to get drunk you understand, it’s just there are rules to rugby tours, and a certain blood alcohol level has to be maintained throughout. I’m not sure what that level is exactly, lets just say the appropriate measure involves the amount of blood in your alcohol stream, rather than the other way around.

Anyway, after about 11.00 p.m., other team members started coming up to us suggesting that, since we were playing the next day, we might want to take it easy. Well, being the intelligent rational thinkers we were, we thought they were winding us up, so we ignored them. Well, actually, we told them to “Bugger off”, and proceeded to down enough alcohol to sink a small boat.

You know, something the size of the Titanic.

Anyway, we got back to the hotel at about 1.30 a.m. after a good 3 hours of fairly heroic drinking and found that we were indeed on the list for the next days game.


Well, like I said, we were intelligent rational individuals, so when faced with this knowledge we did the only thing we could.

We drank more.

Oh, sure, we could have gone up to our rooms, drank several gallons of water, taken a few aspirin and tried our best to be sober for the next day, but are you kidding me?

As it turned out, my mate Charlie had bought a liter bottle of Cointreau on the way through Duty Free, and this seemed like as good a time as any to break it open. Which we duly did, and proceeded to do Cointreau Burners with it.

Burners for those of you who don’t know, involve taking a rocks glass, pouring a couple of ounces of rocket fuel in the bottom of it, and setting it on fire. When it is burning nicely, you put your hand over the glass, totally covering the rim, while being careful not to burn your hand. As the flame continues to burn, it burns all the oxygen, creating alcohol vapor, and forming a vacuum seal around your hand – the glass will literally stick to your hand if you get it right.

If you don’t get it right, you’ll burn the shit out of your hand because the flame won’t go out.

You’ve been warned.

And yes, this is one of those drinks that are a really bad idea unless you are drunk already. And if you are so drunk that they seem like a good idea, you are probably too drunk to be drinking them.

Anyway, once the flame goes out, pick up the glass without breaking the seal, bring it to your nose, and as you break the seal, breath in hard through your nose, inhaling all the alcohol vapor, then knock back the shot. The alcohol vapor travels through your nasal passages and into your lungs, all of which have much thinner walls than you stomach, so the alcohol is absorbed almost instantly, and you get drunk for about 30 seconds. Then the booze you swallowed hits and you get drunk for longer.

Two for the price of one – you just can’t beat it.

But we should have.

We should have beaten it with a very large stick, because you get very, very drunk off these. Especially when, at the end of a very heavy evening, you drink the entire liter of the stuff.

Twelve years later and some days I can still taste it.

Suffice to say, the morning after was less than pleasant.

On the bus to the game, one of us was in full hangover mode (me). One of us was unconscious (Andy). And one of us (Charlie) puked non-stop throughout the 45 minute bus ride to the game. Not good.

But nothing compared to what happened when we got to the game. After we arrived, it got really bad.

We found that half the pitch was about 4 inches deep in mud. As any sports player (or hell, anyone with common sense) will tell you, running in 4 inches of mud is bad if you feel well, but murderous with a hangover.

And just to add to the fun, a nearby sewage pipe had broken, so the air stank of raw, untreated sewage.

You can picture it. Needing to breathe to get oxygen into the body so we could deal with the mud and hangover, while being unable to breathe because of the smell.

I have never wanted to die so much in my life.

And I will never, ever, drink Cointreau again.



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