It’s 1995 and when we last saw Husband he had just urinated on strangers and arrived on the island of Santorini in shame.
That was not the most embarrassing part of this story. There’s more drunken idiocy, public nudity, and a lot more fluids ahead. Ready?
Let’s skip over all the boring tourist crap, shall we? Yadda-yada, yummy food and black sand beaches. The young people went out at night—there weren’t as many clubs open because Santorini is more of a summer destination and they’d missed the season, but they made do. It was gorgeous, but since Husband’s poor camera skills are genetic there are no photos of their exact trip that don’t promenantly feature his father’s sweaty thumb. You’re going to have to either imagine the most beautiful place in the world or google that shit.
On their last night together, Husband’s parents retired early because they were old and boring and all foreigned out. Alice was going home with them the next day and her boyfriend (whom you’ll recall we are calling Chris… which I’m now thinking was a mistake because that might seriously be his real name) would continue on to Israel for a month or two of manual labor and networking. Husband would still have a few days of freedom, but really nothing to do and no one to do it with, so they agreed this last night was needed to partay. They hit every bar they could find, eventually ending up at the one just downstairs from their hotel, where they got drunk with the dedication of the young.
Shit, I’m feeling old again. Hang on, a rosé should fix this.
Okay, so they got drunk like it was their job—which, let’s face it, it was—and had a good time. Alice and Chris eventually went to make use of the hotel room they all shared before Husband was ready to retire, because they were on vacation and hadn’t gotten to have any sex yet, much less the freaky hotel kind. Nobody thought Husband would have any problem finding his way back, since it was right upstairs.
I’m sorry, you guys, I’m laughing so hard as I write this because I can already feel you realizing just how bad this night is about to go for him.
He stayed at the bar a while longer, enjoying the music and excellent liquor… and this is where his memory gets a little fuzzy.
He remembers realizing he was super drunk and still deciding to have “a few more”.
He does not remember leaving the bar.
He remembers wandering, lost, unable to find the hotel. He wandered a long-ass time, he’s sure of that.
He vaguely remembers talking to someone, at some point? This person may have been female.
Seriously, so much wandering… he wandered half the damned island, easy, looking for upstairs.
Then, suddenly, his memory clears. He woke up in the hotel room, in his bed. Three things were immediately apparent to him:
- His mouth tastes of vomit. Vomiting occurred, and lots of it.
- It is possible to be simultaneously drunk and hungover.*
- Mistakes were made. They have not yet been cataloged, but he still can’t see clearly and that is perhaps a blessing.
At that moment, Chris emerged from the bathroom. He wore a towel wrapped around his waist and another piled up on his head… and he was fastening Alice’s bra on his own narrow chest. As Husband blinked, unable to focus, Chris strutted across the room in this questionable ensemble to stand on the balcony, to the delight of pedestrians below.
Alice, hearing the whistles and catcalls, turned to see what the hell Chris had done now and demanded that he get back inside this minute. Chris (and I think we can all agree this was the only rational course of action) responded by whipping off his lower towel, swinging his bait and tackle around and around for enthusiastic crowd.
Husband groped for his glasses, the better to sort through the mistakes that had led him to this moment.
If you’ve guessed that his glasses were gone, not present, nowhere in that hotel room and possibly no longer anywhere in Europe… Congratulations! You’ve been paying attention.
The problem was discussed over breakfast and, since no one knew how or where to find an optometrist on Santorini, it was decided that the best thing to do would be to return to Athens and search for a solution there.
Problem: the only place they could find was charging the pitiful drunkover American the very earth to replace his glasses same-day—necessary, since Husband is helpless without them. His father realized that, due to the perks available to airline employees and their families, it would actually be cheaper for Husband to fly home to Maine, get his glasses there, and fly back to Athens than it would be to pay this tourist-hating price gouger.
Was this allowed? Not even a little bit!
See, the terms of their leave required that they remain “in-theater”—literally all they had to do was stick to countries where UN troops were currently deployed. That left tons of exciting and beautiful countries to explore. So easy!
Yeah, they arrested a bunch of guys for going back to Germany instead. Good thing for Husband nobody thought anyone would be dumb enough to go back home.
There must be a lesser Fate whose job it is to watch over idiots carrying ten pounds of marble; he got his glasses, had a pizza at his favorite local place while he waited, and headed back out the next day.
Sitting on the tarmac at Bangor airport, the flight attendant made an announcement.
This is where I finally date this story: It was, in fact, October 3, 1995, and Orenthol James Simpson had just been found not guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The verdict played on every screen in the airport and countless televisions across America, and flight crews were announcing it to passengers because everyone would be asked for years after where they were when the verdict was delivered.
(I was in genetics class, but the teacher rolled in a TV cart. I will never not remind him that while he was out having these adventures, the love of his life wasn’t old enough to drive.)
This was Husband’s plan, as he sat on the tarmac listening to the other passengers discuss a case he’d not really followed: Bangor to Boston, Boston to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Athens, and from Athens he would have two whole days to manage a bus or a train or some way of getting back to Skopje. No problem.
It was in Frankfurt that he actually saw the verdict in print: an international edition of USA Today was in the seat pocket in front of him. This story being of little or no interest to him, he continued on below the fold… where he found a story about the President of Macedonia being injured by a car bomb—an assassination attempt.
The paper reported that 10,000 UN troops were in the area, which seemed odd since Husband knew they were 550 in number, assuming no one was on leave. Journalistic anomaly, he thought.
The last line of the article read, “All borders have been closed until further notice.”
You will, under the circumstances, forgive him for blurting out a hearty “FUCK.”
* I will hereafter refer to this state as drunkover, and anyone who achieves it has my respect.
Ready for more? PART III