Friday, November 24, 2006

"I wanted to look like the all-American kid from New York City"

(Continues the saga of Alice's Restaurant)

They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street, where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. `Cause I wanted to look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York, and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the psychiatrist, room 604."

And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL." And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."

Didn't feel too good about it.

Proceeded on down the hall gettin more injections, inspections, detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me at the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty ugly things and I was just having a tough time there, and they was inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no part untouched. Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there, and I walked up and said, "What do you want?"

He said, "Kid, we only got one question. Have you ever been arrested?"


Thanksgiving 2004 wasn't my first time astraying from the amber waves of grain. In 2002, I spent most of November in Chichester, England working on a major transatlantic software project for my company. It was a great month. I quickly became a regular at the local Boots (that Botanica line rocks!) and adapted well to the custom of a pint at the pub right after work. Had one serious bout of homesickness, which was an actual physical reaction with nausea and insomnia and loss of appetite. Cured it by going to the local Chinese restaurant and pretending it was Grant Street and then going back to the flat and watching Full Metal Jacket on TV, reveling in the accents. Meanwhile, through the news, I stayed up to date with the Hans Blix and his UN team of weapons inspectors on their way to Iraq.

But the IT team -- Kevin, Dennis, Neville, Andy, Saroj, Malcolm, Sarah, Ian and Gwenda-- were mindful that I was missing out on the traditional four-day bacchanal of food and shopping, so they organized an ad hoc substitute for Thursday's lunch. A local pub had a carvery and confirmed a supply of turkey for sandwiches. The cranberry sauce was a little closer to chutney, but present and accounted for. The 'mash' half of a bangers and mash regular lunch supplied the potatoes and I think they even managed stuffing. Brussel sprouts were apparently the available greens, but an anti-sprout cabal made sure they never made it to the table. No doubt, for the best.

We had a great lunch. All that was missing was the televised roar of a stadium of American football fans and the rapid East Coast patter of a sports announcer in the background. Malcolm even tried for an obligatory heated family discussion when he took me to task for the undeniably poor track record the American settlers left in their dealings with the Native American tribes. Which was another one of those strange moments of zen that life likes to throw at me now and then.

In the evening after work, the town rounded the day off with a Christmas tree lighting and street fair marking the beginning of the longer shopping hours of the season. A local charity had a table selling small mince pies, so I was happily covered on that issue as well. It was on this visit, probably even on this evening, that I found my second Horslips CD - the Best Of double CD set on the Edsel label -- in the MVC music store on South Street.

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