The parking_god in Sherwood Forest

The summer after my sophomore year of HS (19-eightymumble), I went on a student exchange program to the UK. While I was there, a friend (John) of the guy who I was staying with (Dave) offered us an opportunity. John's father was publisher of a magazine called The Field, kind of an upscale Field And Stream, and he needed people to sell copies of the magazine out of a kiosk at the Nottingham Games Fair (think Hunt Club meets Flea Market meets Way Too Much Money). Oh, yeah, and bartend nightly parties in their hospitality tent. Twenty pounds a day plus another ten for meal money, a daily total of about $75 at the time. Oh, yeah, and all we could drink.

So we get up there and have a great time hawking the magazine. At one point, I managed to sell a copy to a Scotsman with an accent so thick that I couldn't tell whether he was asking me if I could accept Bank of Scotland pound notes, or if I wanted to paint his house!

The first night's party was something to remember; at least I think it was. My memories of it are pretty sketchy: John's dad asking the three of us about every five minutes if we were getting enough to drink, scoring a direct hit on a minor Royal with a champagne cork, and wandering up and down the aisles of the Games Fair with a Guinness in one hand, a snifter full of cigarettes in the other hand, and a cigarette in the other other hand, bellowing at the top of my lungs about how I was having the time of my life. Dave and I broke into an ice cream stand and stole about 2 quid worth of ice cream, then felt guilty later and went back and left a fiver on the inside counter.

When it came time to call it a night, Dave and I unrolled our sleeping bags on the floor of the hospitality tent (we slept there to guard the booze, although in our condition at the time we would have been unable to stop a mildly determined mouse). That was when the Earth's orbital velocity mysteriously tripled. I actually thought I was going to fall off the floor--something I had hitherto thought physically impossible.

The next morning, having survived my own ten-hour personal Tilt-A-Whirl ride, we started selling the magazine again, although with much less enthusiasm. This kid came up to the kiosk and started hassling us, and I think he was the Scotsman's son because I couldn't figure out what the hell HE was saying either. Something about me being a lightweight Yank who couldn't hold his drink.

That night's party was far more subdued; I backed off several notches on the booze, mixed drinks for guests (which was an adventure in itself; how many 15-year-olds know how to mix a Gimlet? I sure didn't--I poured whatever mixer and liquor I could reach first, 50-50, and nobody ever complained), and tried, desparately and pathetically and ultimately unsuccessfully, to hook up. Evidently the 'hopeless geek' label followed me across the ocean.

But it ended well--I got drunk two nights in a row on someone else's dime and earned about $200 for three days of easy duty. Not bad for a 15-year-old hopeless geek.

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