If you don’t know me, you’ll find I like to try my hardest to give the impression that I am super suave; full of wry witty banter and wicked one liners. The truth is, I squeal like an old dog with asthma at particularly lame puns and frequently high five myself.
This little cringe confession is one I had after a big night on the respective Sherpa village of Namche.
I had arrived in Namche Bazaar, a cool 3500m above sea level after trekking to the EBC – triumphant and slaking to wash the sweat dried on top of more sweat from the last 10 or so days of trekking since my last shower. The sweat had come to settle as an uncomfortable grime that could not be vanquished with a wet wipe and whilst I was all for au natural – there is an aroma that one prefers not to project in a pub.
My return down the mountain had been a couple of long days in mostly sunshine, so I was sporting a wicked sunglasses tan but I was pumped regardless because we were going to hit the town to celebrate. I went all out in a black polar fleece – the kind reserved only for dads to wear to early morning Saturday sport. I also wore my yak wool leg warmers and heaven help me, crocs and socks. The piece de resistance was the beanie I had acquired that sat bolt upright so that I resembled the effortless glamour of a gnome crossed with a troll doll. Oh yes, I was the epitome of style and looking HOT.
Here’s the quick run down on alcohol and altitude – it gets absorbed a shit tonne quicker and that’s all you need to know because that’s all I knew.
Imagine you are perched on the edge of a mountain in the Himalayas. It’s dark, and the stars glitter across the sky. Huge peaks surround you and the air is so fresh, so clear that it’s sharp on the lungs. Now where would you go to drink in a place like that? Well an Irish pub of course. Trust the Irish to have a bloody pub in the Himalaya.
I started out sipping my whiskey innocently enough in said pub and then a group of American marines came and asked to join our group and this was the beginning of the end.
Not having had a lot to do with Americans I was nonplussed at first, but boy oh boy as the alcohol seeped its way through my system, did their accents became honey to my ears. Not only did they sound so gosh darn charming, but lord have mercy, they were tall.
It was here that the beginnings of inebriation had me believing I was legitimately as suave as I first mentioned. So where I had been reasonably and politely engaging in conversation, some added confidence – in the form of obnoxiousness – began to rear it’s head. My obnoxious alter ego loves a good game and feeling particularly patriotic, pool was on the agenda.
I am a mediocre player at best, but liquor me up and I’ll tell you I’m a goddamn snooker champion. I may have been projecting this falsehood onto my magical marine opponents but what’s a little extra confidence when you have sunburn seared onto your face that gives you a very Panda-esque vibe and your attire is more gnome than knock out. Let’s not even get started on crocs and socks. Thank you liquid courage for blinding me to my outfit.
Next thing I know – I’m several whiskeys in and we are in the throws of serious competition. It’s my turn and this is what I think I do; sashay up to the table, lean down low – all the while sending smouldering glances down the cue to my opponent ‘Randy’ (could he be anymore American?) – and effortlessly sail the ball into the pocket. Eat your heart out honey.
What I ACTUALLY do is lurch and stumble up to the table – throwing out a hand to steady myself. I stare cross eyed down the cue – brow scrunched up wondering why the ball keeps moving (some would say “swaying”) – and blindly stab at a ball that is not there. I stagger back triumphantly after I’ve dug the cue into the felt and assumed I’ve made contact and grin like a maniac down the table to poor Randy at the end. Then, wanting to make a grand exit, I push my cue to the closest bystander and flounce off towards the bar. In a pitch that only a Yeti could hear, I attempt to charm the bartender into giving me a free shot. I bat my eyelashes at him, prop myself up on my elbow and throw “knowing” sideways glances at the drunks around me; as if to sympathise with him for their inability to handle their alcohol. I obviously don’t have glassy eyes nor a slur to my words.
I make my way back to the pool table, to have a discussion with Randy about his beloved USA. Or rather, it’s actually me declaring that I can list all 50 states and he will dutifully listen to me list them alphabetically, of course. I get stuck on Arkansas and in a bid to keep my allure, dismiss myself for a moment to have a very important discussion with my friends. That discussion being basically, announcing to the entire bar in not so hushed tones that I should very much like to take Randy back to my room.
How could he resist me?
Well, let’s add some serious haze and next thing I know, our band of merry trekkers were the last to be kicked out of the pub and singing our way down the street and back to our lodge.
It is here I get my second wind. Oh yes.
I delight in thundering down the hall, to burst into one of the guy’s rooms and proceed to shake him in bed and lick his face when he refuses to wake up. Cackling like a complete nutter and starting to sound like that asthmatic old dog, I then turn and roar back down the hall to my own room – only to find my roommate in the throws of serious discussion with another of our party. Not having the mental capacity to deal with actual conversation, I turn around and go back racing down the hall way to repeat the shaking and face licking procedure to the poor bastard in bed.
I do that another 3 times.
At some stage I must have passed out because in the morning the only thing I woke up to, was vomit in my bed. There was no Randy – he’d escaped in the bar long before I’d even left – and I couldn’t really blame him; my slurring, slobbering alter ego wasn’t as suave as she imagined.
You might wonder what kind of mad dog I am – and how much liquor it took to knock me out in Namche. Being the kind of girl who can usually do several tequila shots without missing a beat and back it up some more, it’s certainly overwhelming;
The magic number was 5.
Five whiskeys to floor me. FFS.
So the next time you are in altitude and want to dabble in alcohol at great heights, remember that my greatest regret, was not (surprisingly) the crocs and socks nor the vomit in my hair. It wasn’t that I had on leg warmers that destroyed any slenderness in my ankles or my Rudolph worthy red nose. It was most regrettably, runaway Randy.
The marine that got away.