Abroad in Dublin home

26. The First Weekend of Joy

It was my intention on the night of the 17th to go out with some work friends and get ridiculously drunk. I felt like I needed the numbness that alcohol could provide me. However, the people I intended to join for drinks had other plans. They were going to see Star Wars II and then to get a meal. I thought this needn't be a problem. My plan was to grab some food of my own and then head into town afterwards and join them when they went on to some drinkery after their watching/eating had come to its natural conclusion.

Life doesn't work out so easily. After stuffing myself full of pizza (a Safeway ready-made item) I impatiently stumbled into town, arriving fairly late in the evening, expecting them to be nearly finished eating. In fact, they'd only just come out of the film when I eventually caught up with them. They'd had, what later proved to be, their only pub drink of the evening, and were heading to the restaurant. Instinctively I knew I needed company and so I decided to join them. I think I put some backs out in the process. I'd been invited to the whole evening's activities, but had declined since I wanted to take Caroline to see the movie and didn't expect that the meal would be a big feature of the night - just a waypoint between a film and getting some drinks in. I was, of course, entirely wrong in every sense. I didn't even take Caroline to see the movie. I went to see Star Wars II alone a few days later.

So picture the scene. Having gone out to drown my brain with alcohol, with a stomach full of pizza, I'm now being squeezed, as a large last minute addition to a table in a restaurant in Newcastle. Moreover, this is going to be the only social event of the evening and I've clearly come out especially to join the group, so I can't turn around and say - actually folks, this isn't for me, sorry I gatecrashed your table, but I'm going to have to go. I felt rather conspicuous. What do you do in that situation? Actually, there is an easy solution. I think it was inspired by something I saw in a Mel Brooks movie. The best way not to be noticed is to make yourself completely noticeable. I'll explain.

I was worried about standing out for all the reasons I've mentioned. Not eating would have made me stand out even more. So I chose to do something I'd heard about - I'd try to eat this particular restaurant's comedy menu item. This was the Rupali Curry House and its menu included an item called Curry Hell - the world's hottest curry - if you can finish it, you get it for free. Now, I didn't expect to be able to finish it, but that was fine, I wasn't even hungry. I reckoned that the laugh it would give everyone around the table would be much bigger than any reaction they might have to the fact that I was uncomfortable being there. This is quite a positive approach. Take a bad situation and make an event of it - but make the event unrelated to the situation, so you can look back on it as "that time I nearly died eating curry".

It was a memorable evening. The curry was very very very strong. Some people around the table dipped a fork into the sauce and then, with nothing other than its vague colour on the tines of the fork, tasted it. They felt great for 15 seconds until the harsh after-burn of this evil tincture kicked in and lasted about an hour. I had a job eating the curry. Basically, I focused on using the rice to take some of the hit off the sauce and I ate the chicken out of the dish. The golden dish which bore this evil brew contained a vast quantity of chilli seeds and a small quantity of chicken. The burn that you experienced while eating this dish was immense. It took all the rice, along with holding beer in my mouth (at least I got beer) to help me through the eating of all the chicken. All the while people were saying things like "are you all right?" and "ooh look - he's got a major sweat on" as I gamely plodded through the task. At the end, there was tons of the sauce left, but it was declared that I'd succeeded (very nice of them to give me a victory) and was not charged for it. I was also crowned and robed as the king of curry hell. Oh yeah. I gave a small speech to my subjects. Then I called the man who runs the place over. The heat of the curry was starting to make me feel sick. My mouth was on fire and my stomach was threatening to purge. "Have you got anything to take away the pain?" I asked. A couple of glasses of mango Lassi was all it took. As simple as that? Yes in the short term, but in the long term, no. I was advised by the waiter, who had tried to stop me ordering the dish, to drink as much milk as possible before going to bed. The food has got to come back out of you, he said, you need protection for all of your digestive system - even the back.

The following morning, Saturday, I found the need to shower after a visit to the toilet, to see if I couldn't soothe my aching behind - and I'd had about 2 pints of milk in me.

However, this weekend, which hadn't been particularly joyous so far, had some joy ahead of it. On what we termed the first "Weekend of Joy", a friend of mine from school and I entertained ourselves in Leeds. I drove to his place and we did stuff. It's hard to say what we did, but it was definitely joyous and did not involve huge quantities of hot curry. That's for sure!

I arrived home after celebrating a joyous weekend and was due at work on the Monday morning before then picking Caroline up from the railway station sometime on Monday evening. I was hoping she'd be in a mood to talk things through and we could start patching things up between us.

>> 27. Dumped

20 May 2004
Ashley Frieze