Calum McSwiggan

There And Back Again

In Eat, Gay on October 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

Munich By Night

‘I don’t do drugs, I am drugs’

– Salvador Dalí

As I slam my feet down on the tables, clink my stein together with those of my fellow lederhosen-wearing patrons, and pretend to know the words to German songs in celebration of the debauchery of Oktoberfest, I cautiously keep one eye fixed firmly on my drink and think of the last time I came to visit.

I opened my palms to the warmth of one of the camp fires, buried my toes into the sands of Nektar beach, and took large generous sips from my Mojito. I’d come to Munich for a big gay party and although I should have been thrilled to be there, all I felt was disappointment. I’d expected body shots and strobe lights; drag queens and transvestites; and teenage boys and love bites, but instead was greeted with a much more sophisticated event.

Groups of men in smart shirts and blazers gathered around flickering candles, listened to classical music, and talked about business. As the only person under the age of thirty, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, I stuck out like a sore thumb, and naturally it wasn’t long until I attracted the attention of a crowd of nearby Germans. They circled me like a pack of well-dressed hyenas on a wilder-beast calf, and before I knew it they were handing me drinks faster than I could drink them.

I indulged them for a while, listening to their stories and sharing some of mine, but it didn’t take long for the conversation to fall into tedium. I knew that what I really wanted to be doing was drinking Jaeger out of somebody’s belly button, not discussing my opinions of Angela Merkel, and so I finally came to the end of my tether, slammed down my drink, and demanded to know where the hell the party was.

The youngest of the pack turned to me, and with a sly wink he whispered, it’s right here sweetheart, and handed me another drink, and that’s when things started to turn hazy.

The sun woke me the next morning and, checking the time, I frantically leapt out of bed and threw on my clothes. I had to be on a train to Italy in an hour, and it was a forty-five minute walk to the station. My legs felt like match-sticks and the floor felt like custard as I rolled my suitcase out into the street and pushed my headphones into my ears. Everything was blurry as if the whole city had been submerged underwater, or as if I was looking at it through a Vaselined lens, and my mind was running so fast that even the drum & bass that blasted in my ear drums sounded sluggish.

I reached the train station in less than five minutes and, as if my body was running on auto-pilot, I veered off straight for the sweet counter. My whole body was dripping with sweat and drool began to trickle down my chin as I gawped at the dazzling colours of the various candies. I grinned from ear to ear as I snatched up a bag and began scooping up handfuls of yellow bellies and flying saucers, and then gobbled them up in front of the cashier before beginning to refill the bag.

And those, I said through a mouthful of gummy bears I hadn’t yet paid for, two of those! My whole body began to convulse with excitement as she began to pour two large slushies, and not able to control myself any longer, I lunged forward for my two cups of sugary delight, threw money at her, and disappeared into the surging crowd.

It didn’t take long for the numbers to overwhelm me, and then suddenly I felt dizzy and was overcome with fear. Everyone was out to steal my sweets, and I didn’t know where I was, and didn’t understand why that girl was following me, and then in an explosion of colour the entire city collapsed around me until there was nothing but darkness and a high-pitched humming sound.

I woke up on the train, face down in a magazine I don’t remember buying, my face stuck to Thom Evans’ naked torso, and an Italian grandmother sat opposite, looking at me with the combination of repulsion, disappointment, and fear.

I apologised, and in an attempt to make awkward conversation, she asked me where I was headed. I told her I was on my way to teach English to children in the north of Italy, and those words very nearly gave her a stroke.

I was lucky, if somebody could slip a rave drug into my drink, they could have just as easily slipped in something more malicious, and I realise now the importance of being careful- from here on out I won’t be leaving my drink unattended and I definitely won’t be accepting drinks from strangers- unless they’re exceptionally cute.

  1. What an amazing account of a horrifying encounter.

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