Saturday, October 15, 2005

The head, it's a little fuzzy

Augh! AUGH!

How is it 10am already??? Why is my pile of papers still untouched? Why are clothes strewn all over my couch? What on earth possessed me to agree that it would be wise to attend a "Formal Hall" exchange at another college?

Formal Hall exchanges are not diplomatic events between wise peers who sip port and politely debate world economics. They are a mad frenzy, an excuse to dress up, visit someone else's dining hall (typically an ancient, cathedral-like cavern filled with large portraits of long-dead college presidents), and make a complete arse of yourself because no one knows you anyway.

This explains why my group engaged in highly inappropriate conversation, imbibed a bit too much wine and subsequently stole a bottle of port (why, why, why do the British like port so bloody much? It's like drinking straight cough syrup!). It may not justify the actions, but it explains them.

The refined, well-groomed, bespectacled graduate students next to us turned their chairs away halfway through a rather unpalatable meal, in which the vegetarian "Tower of Mushrooms" was more like a small, wilted cowpie of tinned mini-mushrooms. Apparently, our loud chatter about the merits of the Onion and the Sun offended their dignified sensibilities. It probably didn't help when the college dean stood up to welcome guests, misidentified our college, and was publically castigated by a raucous chorus of "We're not from bloody X college! We're from Y!"

In hindsight, we should have viewed his misstep as a gift, because at least then our behavior could have been attributed to someone else's college, and they could have been banned for all life. Fortunately, within half an hour, the rest of the guests caught up with us and were guzzling their own pilfered port while the blue-bloods quailed with horror.

I really don't know how graduate students here manage to be drunk at least half the nights of the week -- and you should see the undergraduates! I think the British must slip their babies flasks as soon as they can walk. Regardless, we Americans just can't keep up. Instead, we gamely stagger behind and waste time drunk-texting innocent friends. (Yes, "text" is a verb here...and we're supposed to be the backwards part of the former Empire.)

Alas, I have a bit of catching-up to do, and another mandatory "social function" tonight (no, really, this one is required). Apparently, we scholarship kids are taking a boat ride around London in the dark, with free beverages sponsored by some consulting group eager to snap us up after we've obtained our incredibly useful degrees in geography and English. If I'm not back on the blog in a few days, it's probably safe to assume that I was lost on the Thames, and that I'm drifting out to sea with nothing but a bottle of that accursed port. 'Ta for now.

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