The Loughborough Vignettes
I went to visit my brother at Loughborough University in England. Here are some things that happened to us.
We had just left Fusion, and were waiting around the Royce Bar for someone to suggest something to do. Lordy, a tall, muscly young man with doughy, smiling features ran up to us. Earlier that evening we had pre’d in his room while simultaneously playing Fifa ’13, eating Pizza and watching YouTube compilations of the most gruesome Mixed Martial Arts knockouts. (Of particular interest were those videos where the losers were left twitching as paramedics run into the cage.)
“Lads! Hey, lads! Now I’ve seen it all lads. Lads!” Lordy was drunk. He had just come back from the toilet and his hands were still dripping from having run them under the tap.
Royce Bar is one of the five places you can buy drinks in the Loughborough Students Union, a complex of clubs and bars, currently patronized by about 2000 very drunk students. It’s Wednesday. It’s 1 A.M.
We all looked at Lordy, who had swung his wet hands over Dave and Kay’s shoulders, and waited for what witty thing he was going to say next.
“So, like, I was taking a piss. Just minding my own business, like…”
Loughborough University is full of ‘lads’ and ‘rugby boys’ and the Union has a lot of testosterone being flung around. I imagined he had just witnessed a Great-British bathroom brawl, and half expected some bloody nosed kids to stumble out of the washroom.
“Then I see some hands reach beneath my cock.” We look at him more intently. Homophobia is a practised sport here. “This kid, right, reaches beneath my cock, while I’m peeing, and makes his hands into a cup. Then he drinks my piss! He drinks my fucking piss!”
“Errr” someone says (trans.: “ewww”)
“Yeah, but it doesn’t stop there, right. He pulls out his own cock and pisses in hiscup. And drinks from the cup!”
We all agree that that is pretty nasty. What the fuck is wrong with people?
“Aaand then!!”Lordy gets our attention again, “he takes off his shoe, and pisses in his shoe. In. His. Shoe. Like.” Lordy pauses, wavers a little between his props, and continues: “Then he drinks the piss out of his shoe.”
There is a pause. We take sips of our drinks. I hadn’t noticed yet that the draught beer here tastes slightly like urine.
“I’m sorry you had to see that,” I say, putting my hands on his shoulders.
“Can you believe it?” he asks us.
“Thats gross,” someone says “why would anyone do that?”
The next time I go into that bathroom the floor is covered in puke.
“I can just imagine,” my brother told me, “some guy just projectile-fucking-vomiting all over the place while waiting in line. I bet he’s gonna get some tonight.”
“Wow,” I say.
Meet Fish Boy. He gels his hair into a sideways spiky thing at the front, and is wearing a Ralph-Lauren polo shirt when Kay points him out to me at Royce Bar. He sounds like a man with a poor sense of humour and some terribly low self-esteem.
Now, I should mention that one of the most popular societies at Loughborough, is MOB the drinking society. Members of Men On Beer are often the antiheroes of university lore. Fish Boy, was an aspiring member.
Fish Boy got his name after drinking too much during Freshers Week – that week before classes start at all British universities where new students get acquainted with their new hobby: binge drinking. Fish Boy, who had just purchased a new goldfish at the town pet store had become the butt of everyone’s jokes tonight, as these young men tried to figure out their place within their new social hierarchy. After their third shot of sambuca, his new friends turned to him and dared him to swallow his pet whole. Drunk, and not wanting to be perceived as Yellow, he agreed.
The fish was put into a plastic tumbler along with a shot of vodka and water. Fish Boy drank it in one gulp. Everyone laughed, said it was gross, changed the song, and started plotting which girl they wanted to try to get with tonight.
Five minutes later, Fish Boy felt pretty nasty – that last beer really put him over the edge. His mouth filled with cold saliva, he couldn’t feel his lips, but he could certainly feel that tell-tale sign streaming between his teeth. It all came up, accompanied by the sound of the opening of the gates of hell, on his friends carpeted floor before he could run to the bathroom. It was mostly chunky liquid, as the lads had been drinking for the last three hours and their take-out order was still “forty-five minutes to an hour” away. In the middle of the chunky orange goo was something a little more orange, a little less gooey, and a lot less stationary than the rest of the puddle.
After the regular expletives that come out of young men’s mouths when their friend pukes all over the floor in front of them, one of them saw the fish.
“Holy shit, the fish is still alive.” The boys looked at the fish.
“You’v go-a swallah it agin.” someone said. Fish Boy was pretty impressed that it was still alive, but was a little embarrassed that he puked in front of everyone. In his drunken mind, there was really only one way to make things right.
Many of the stories that come from the MOB have to do with chunder in some way: vomit licking, vomit drinking, vomit inhaling. Fish Boy had heard all of these, and damned if his own bile was going to discourage him from swallowing that fish again. He picked up his pet, tried shaking off most of the chunks, and swallowed it again. This time he chased it with a full glass of water.
The fish never saw the light of day again.
We are in Cogs. Cogs has a dance-floor that is lit up with multicoloured lights, adjacent to a wall of mirrors. There is so much light in here, I can see everyone’s splotchy make up and pimples. The draught beer is not on special, but Coors Light is at 4 for 5 quid. Obviously I get 4, and am required to dance with shellfish pincers until I manage to drink at least three of them. The last, I tell myself, I will savour until the night is over. Obviously, I drink all four of them right away, and I soon realize that I really, really, really have to pee. I excuse myself from my brother’s friends, and make my way to the washroom. My brother, who has the smallest bladder ever, uses me as an excuse to go pee for the fifth time tonight. We head to the gents.
The queue to the toilet is long, this is about the point that everyone finished their four beers, or four VK’s, the bubblegum coloured mixed vodka drinks that are also on special tonight. (I ask one of the first-years I have been hanging out with if it turns their puke rainbow coloured – he looked at me with a glint in his eye: “I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll tell you tomorrow?” This is a boy who sleeps with a bucket tucked under his bedside table – a modern plastic chamber pot – just in case.) The line to the men’s washroom moves quickly. As I finish relieving myself, two girls run in to use some of the empty stalls – “Arright ladies?!” a tall, muscular young man, with a neck about as thick as a small tree, exclaimed. The look in his eyes is excited, his expression betrays his thought: maybe they won’t close the door.
I finish washing my hands, and the same guy is waiting his turn behind me. I turn to leave, and he stops me.
“Wait, don’t tell me. Don’t tell me. That shirt is…”
I look down at my shirt. It is a shirt that me and my girlfriend share because it doesn’t really fit either of us. I think it is a hand-me-down from her mother. The shirt has a blue and brown tartan pattern – plaid shirts are only just taking off in England, which is strange, since it is so close to Scotland.
“Umm… Blue?” I ask him.
He looks at me wondering if I really had the gall to talk back to him.
“Oh.” He says a little dejectedly. “I thought it was designer.”
“Nope. Sorry. Just a shirt. Someone probably designed it, but I don’t think they got their name on the label. Anyway, I gotta go. C’ya!” I blurt, and scootle out of the loo pretty quick. The testosterone levels in a room seem to triple when there are girls peeing in the stalls right next to you.
When we get back to my brother’s friends, he introduces me to a girl in blackface dressed as a reindeer. He is quite excited – he informs me that this girl is probably going to be in the England women’s football team. I’m unimpressed. She has antlers and a red nose.
“I made out with her once,” he says.
“Oh,” I say, “cool.”