Chapter 7 – Reunited
After having gotten off on the wrong foot during a party at his older sister’s house when I stood on the hood and pissed on the windshield of the beloved O’Shaughnessy family “Mazdarati,” Tim and I formed a friendship during our freshman year at Marquette University. We remained bros for all four years and lived together for the final two. Post-graduation, Tim took a position as a financial analyst at a company based in Singapore.
Conjuring a vastly different image of the beer-slugging kid I knew in college whose wardrobe consisted of basketball shorts and Cleveland Browns t-shirts, it was hard to imagine my buddy at grown-up job. Tim O’Shaughnessy in a shirt and a tie sipping coffee, reading a newspaper on the way to work and maybe even toting a nice little briefcase to complete the look? It had been something I couldn’t comprehend.
I mean, this had been the very same kid who not too long beforehand had drunkenly puked a trail of red spaghetti up the white carpeted stairs of our Milwaukee house and left it there for two whole years. Could this guy really be making some serious coin on the payroll of a legitimate business? A company in Singapore actually handed the responsibility of making sure all their expenses add up correctly to a kid who, in college, had been so lazy that he’d have his mom, after every visit, take his dirty laundry home from Milwaukee and then Fed-Ex it back to him from Cleveland all nice and neatly folded? After four years of getting down and dirty in America’s drunkest city, did this motherfucker really come out clean on the other side of the globe with a nice little setup in Southeast Asia?
I had to see it for myself to believe it.
My plane touched down at Changi International Airport around 10:30 p.m. Thanks to unprecedented Singaporean efficiency, I retrieved my bag, went through customs and was on the street in no time. I climbed in a cab manned by a toothless driver and was off to see the wizard.
It’d already been half-past eleven by the time I met up with Tim at his aunt and uncle’s place. After high-fiving and what not, I dropped my bag, plopped my ass on the couch and, without question, was handed an ice-cold beer. Instinctively, I put the can to my head and pulled the trigger. At eight the following morning, Tim and I were due to depart by bus to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Even though the trip was only eight hours away, we decided we’d cross that bridge when we got to it. In the meantime, we let a sweet Singaporean nectar known as Tiger Beer be the wind that filled our sails.
Sooner rather than later, we ended up at a popular entertainment district along the Singapore River known as Clarke Quay. It was a pretty nice area from what I remember – new buildings, well landscaped, clean. That’s one thing I immediately noticed about the city-state – its extreme level of cleanliness. Littering has always been one of my major pet peeves and having lived my whole life in a place where newspapers, cigarette butts and fast-food bullshit are strewn in the gutter of every main street, this came as a most pleasant surprise. Even more impressive had been how the Singapore River didn’t contain any used condoms, empty pop cans or shopping carts that’d been thrown in there by overweight teenagers in Slipknot shirts who consider the act their way of fighting the system.
As Tim and I sat sipping on suds at a place called the Crazy Elephant and talking about all the hot pussy that neither of us had been getting, I took great pleasure in watching drunk people get nauseous as their bodies were thrown up and down by a giant human slingshot known as the Gmax Reverse Bungee. The mechanism strongly resembled that used in Steve O’s porta-potty stunt from Jackass 3D – minus all the feces, of course.
Speaking of feces, prior to visiting Singapore I’d read somewhere that if you shit in a public restroom down there and fail to flush your fudge, your neglect is not taken lightly. In fact, leaving behind an unbroken, foot-long, coiled-up monster for the next guy to see is punishable by fine because, apparently, “In Singapore’s criminal justice system, fecally-based offenses are considered especially heinous.” What I wanna know is who checks on this sort of thing and how is someone convicted? Do they have an elite squad who specializes in the investigation of these viciously unhygienic atrocities committed by good-for-nothin’, no-flushin’ sacks of shit? Can you imagine a suspect being taken down to the station for questioning over such a trivial matter?
“You know what we do to punks like you who don’t discard your dump properly?” the detective growled from beneath the stereotypically dangling, sole light bulb of the investigation room. “We’ll cane your ass so hard you’ll be crappin’ blood – and when you crap blood, you better flush your bloody crap or we’ll bust you again! Do you understand me!?”
That wasn’t the only absurd law I’d read about that they’d have a helluva time enforcing. According to legislation, Singa-pornography is banned, oral and anal sex between heterosexual couples had just been legalized only a few years beforehand, and taking or giving it in the butt from or to another guy will land you in jail where, ironically, you’ll probably end up getting ten times more butt-slammed than you had been outside the pen while committing the “crime” that landed you there. Contradictorily, in spite of this outdated approach to people’s individual sexual preferences, prostitution remains totally legal as was clearly evidenced by some of the women who’d been hanging around Clarke Quay and eye-fucking potential johns outside the Crazy Elephant.
The time flew by as Tim and I caught up. The bar closed and I, having watched The Long Goodbye starring the chain-smoking Elliot Gould only a few days beforehand, suddenly felt the insurmountable need to pick up a pack of cigarettes. Before going on this trip I’d never seen photos of dead bodies on tobacco products and, needless to say, I found the blood-dripping stillborn fetus on my pack of smokes to be a little off-putting. I thought the warnings in Europe that threatened impotence and wrinkled skin were bad, but they can’t even compare to the savage depictions of neck tumors, mouth cancer and mummified teeth that are slapped on a pack of stoobs down in Singapore. How drastically things have changed over the past fifty years. We’ve come a long way since the days when four out of five doctors recommended smoking Winston’s.
Despite all medical forewarning, I chose to light up as we stood in line to grab a cab back to headquarters. This is when Tim gave my alcohol-soaked brain an offer it simply couldn’t refuse – staying out, closing a 4am bar and taking our intoxication to a level that my buddy and I, during the good old days, had liked to refer to as “Milwaukee drunk.”
When an individual reaches a level of Milwaukee drunkenness, the drinker will almost definitely stagger, slur their speech, have trouble perceiving things as they really are, act aggressively and/or lack the capacity to make sound decisions. When Tim and I attended Marquette University, there was little our group of buds wouldn’t do to achieve that elusive state of Milwaukee drunkenness. In fact, the house we all lived in together happened to be right across the street from a hospital and one of our roommates named Burns had once gone there to donate blood specifically for the purpose of having to drink less beer that night to get off-his-ass wasted – talk about dedication.
Although a jolly good time, Milwaukee drunkenness can be quite dangerous which is another reason why it worked out so well that we lived across the street from said hospital. One time I’d still been partying around five in the morning when my blood had been drawn by a tantalizing bottle of Bella Sera Pinot Grigio. Desperate to continue my 48-hour drinking binge, a tightly wedged cork had stood in the way of my happiness. Unable to find the corkscrew in our messy-ass pigsty, I reasoned that smashing off just the neck of the unopened bottle on a concrete window ledge had been my best option. As you might’ve guessed, more of the glass container had broken off than I’d anticipated – part of which ended up coming right back at me and slicing deep into a tendon on my right thumb.
My newest scar hadn’t trickled or gushed blood the way I’d been expecting it to. Rather, when I took pressure off the incision the red stuff squirted out following each heartbeat the way it would in an improv comedy act. Being the shithead I was, I used this pressurized leak pattern to write my name in blood on the white walls of our living room before getting back to the task at hand. Making my way into the kitchen, I placed a strainer over an empty pitcher, poured the remaining contents of the wine bottle through it to remove any potentially fatal, organ-cutting glass shards then continued to ingest more of the intoxicating blood thinner until after the sun had risen. It wasn’t until around seven in the morning when I’d lost far too much of the vital fluid to make the decision for myself that I finally walked across the street to the hospital at the urging and with the accompaniment of my buddies Zaid and Carini.
Aside from me, I don’t think anyone in our house had to use the hospital as much as my buddy Tim who had a knack for putting his fist through windows and glass coffee tables when Milwaukee Drunk. During an early evening scenario in which The OshMan and broken glass were involved but one where a hospital visit was not required, I watched my friend drunkenly trash the first floor of our house. He’d been throwing shit everywhere. He flipped couches, he kicked the legs off our (non-glass) coffee table then proceeded to heave a fire extinguisher through our kitchen window, sending shattered fragments falling out into our backyard. Our roommate Ves’s bundt cake which had been sitting on the counter went flying out right afterwards.
Following the rampage, Tim called campus police and reported a burglary. This bullshit sandwich entailed that the alleged suspects had broken in through the busted kitchen window in spite of the fact it was fairly obvious that the fire extinguisher – which’d then sat on the lawn surrounded by broken glass – had been tossed out from the inside. Despite all hard evidence telling a completely different story, they bought what he sold and the next edition of the school newspaper ran an article in the blotter section about the incident at our house. Even though it laid in crumbled pieces amid the lawn of our backyard, the report had been concluded by the punchline, “A bundt cake was reported stolen – loss estimated at about $5.”
As Tim and I stumbled back to the bars very similar to the way Bunk and McNulty do their vehicle after routinely getting sauced by the railroad tracks in The Wire, we spotted two guys drunkenly passed out on the sidewalk. One of the dudes had been covered in puke and both of them were being shaken and nudged by the feet of responding Singaporean police officers that, at the time, hadn’t been preoccupied checking public restrooms for unflushed toilets. With our foresight as blurry as our vision, we laughed at their misfortune, grabbed a couple seats at the 4am joint, ordered a round of overpriced G & T’s and set ourselves up for certain disaster the following morning.