or: How trembling missed meeting both donfreenut and the whole damn London crew.
17:45 - Arrive at Penderel's Oak. I've been told to look out for either a monkey or a sign. Neither is immediately visible, so I plod downstairs and buy a beer.
17:50 - Look casually around the bar, hoping to look like a noder: carefree and cool.
17:55 - Previous tactic unsuccessful, so begin to look intimidatingly at everyone, hoping to be mistaken for StrawberryFrog.
18:00 - Start dancing to Justin Timberlake, with furtive glances to see if anyone is watching me. Eureka! Someone in a kilt with the glazed eyes and hooded stare of a noder is staring at me; whether in fascination or revulsion, I cannot tell which.
18:02 - I ask it: "Do you like to node?"
18:02 and 3 seconds - Am rewarded with a swift kick to the groin. Decide to retire upstairs and try my luck on the less obviously Scottish elements of the bar.
18:06 - 18:09 - Down two beers to try and quell pain in groin.
18:11 - Succeed, marginally, in regaining some feeling in thighs. Decide this small victory warrants a different approach. I try to flag down the barlady.
Me: "Is there some sort of gathering here tonight?"
Barlady: "Luvvey, thar be many a gathering her tonight, if ye ken what I mean, and I fink ye does, hur hur."
Me: "Any from E2?"
Me: "Are you having problems with the vowel or the number, because I can write either one of them down for you."
Barlady: "I'll just go check, luvvey."
- She comes back after staring at the menu for three minutes. In this time, I've downed a glass of rum and a pint of cider.
Barlady: "E2? Is that wot does have to do wif birds?"
Then I remember that we're in England, and this is E2 we're talking about.
Me: "Actually, very much so. In fact, almost constantly."
Barlady: "Wurl, if 'at's 'em, ye can find 'em downstairs in the No Smoking section."
Me: "Ok, thanks."
Barlady: "The No Smoking section. It's different to the other section 'cos you can't smoke there."
Barlady: "See, that's what No Smoking means.
Me: "Ok, fine. Goodbye. Godspeed."
- Marvelling at the poor lady's disappearing accent, and saddened by her obviously degenerative brain disorder, I light up a smoke and saunter downstairs. A few people look at me like I'm crazy, so, thinking that these might be the people I'm looking for, I ask them (in the friendliest way possible) if they have something I can ash into, seeing as how this particular area seems woefully undercatered in the ashtray department.
- Replies are far from gracious, and I am forced to beat one particularly large creature off with my backpack.
- "There's nowt so strange as London folk," I hear myself say from my fetal position under the bar, although the barman apparently mishears me and pours me two Fosters'. I drink these, grateful for some time to breathe.
- Suddenly, I saw someone who looked like how I imagine all Americans look like: Henry Rollins. This particular Henry Rollins-like American appeared to be crushing a bar stool with his fist. If this was indeed donfreenut, then Butterfinger McFlurry, Everything2 and in fact the whole goddamn universe had a lot of explaining to do.
- Wonder if, by telling me to look for a 'sign', they meant Sign from God. Decide to pray.
- Stop praying. Realise that not even a deity can help me now. Decide to start screaming.
- Too drunk to scream. Decide to moan instead.
- In a feverish rush of desperation, I decide to draw a sign saying
"Hi. My name is trembling
and I'm looking for the E2 nodermeet. Can you direct
me, please? Thank you."
- Manage to take pencil from backpack.
- Manage to take paper from backpack.
- Manage to apply one to other. Get as far as
" before running out of space.
- Think about just writing
"trembling", but realise that this is not the kind of image I want to portray to the casual drinker. Settle on
- Grab another Fosters and lurk around the bathrooms, in green backpack, grey woolen hat and sign on back saying
"E2", drinking and smoking. I try to show my back to everyone who walks past, but this just seems to infuriate the crowd.
- Firm hands pull me around. Something like the north face of Everest asks me what I am doing loitering around the bathrooms. I make an excuse about cystitis and depart the bar, stopping only briefly to be shoved by some angry old lady in a raincoat, and drop my sign on the carpet.
- Walk home. In the rain. Wearing sackcloth.