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It was 1999 and I was a 19 year old expat living in Prague, capital of Bohemia. I was the envy of many, living the dream, riding the high of my adventurous life before the reality of untreated clinical depression caught up to me. When I wasn't instigating craziness or pissed on absinthe, I spent a lot of time marveling at how many stories I was adding to my collection. This is one of those stories.

I first met Scott at the welcome dinner for the fresh crop of ITC students. Having just completed the TEFL certificate myself, I was encouraged to attend and befriend the incoming class.

Me: a ginger sporting bangs and a shaved head; known to wear an evening gown and hiking boots; young hedonist academic with a thing for “characters”; timid, fey, looking for trouble.

Scott: an impish man with a Cheshire Cat smile; owned leopard-print pants and twelve pairs of tie-dyed socks; young hedonist with a mile high pile of stories.

It didn't take long to figure out we were going to get on just fine. We became proverbial partners in crime—spending as many nights crawling the seemingly endless pubs of Prague as we did curled up with a bottle of Merlot apiece, rhapsodizing about wine, women and song (or was it sex, drugs and rock n' roll). The only thing we excelled at more than engaging in our own debauchery was playing devil-on-the-shoulder to our friends and colleagues.

So it happened one November night when we were at a club with a group of alumni, students and faculty from the school on a typical weekend outing. There was a lot of drinking and dancing and even a few rounds of absinthe. Needless to say, we were having one hell of a night. Our 50-something year old stereotypically British student coordinator, David, was even behaving in a decidedly uncharacteristic manner—taking off his necktie and shimmying along with the rest of us. In the midst of all of the chaos, we were approached by a lovely couple from Norway on holiday. Always willing to embrace new friends, we answered their questions and chattered away until the bartender announced last call.

Last call signaled a choice:

1. You could wander up to Vaclavske Namesti to one of the late night food kiosks, order some smazeny syr and a cup of grog, and go figure out how to navigate the night trams, because the subway was already closed.

2. You could find a herna bar, often in the red light district, park yourself at a table and keep drinking beer until the subway re-opened for the morning.

As this was a typical weekend outing, my comrades and I chose door number two, as would any self-respecting expat recently relocated to a country that has a whole class of bars that remain open after the regular bars had closed. And thus we made our way to the red light district and chose a herna bar (no different from the others).

I can't remember who picked up the brochure. That's one of the details from this period of my life that is firmly lost behind the veil of binge drinking. But someone picked it up from amongst the tourist fliers—a glossy, full color, tri-fold brochure advertising the Atlas Cabaret Night Club.

“You should go.” Scott declared enthusiastically.

My first thought was that I didn't want to spend money on admission that I could be spending on booze instead. But I held my tongue, gauging the responses from the rest—the Norwegian couple, the two guys with whom I'd moved to Prague, David. They seemed equally skeptical.

Scott persisted. I took his side. Though I had no great desire to check out Slavic strippers at 2 or 3 in the morning, I could recognize the potential for a good story when I saw it. How long it took us to convince them, I can't recall—but considering our collective level of intoxication, probably not very. It helped that the place was only a few blocks away.

We all marched (or stumbled, your choice) over to Vaclavske Namesti, where we had passed the club countless times. David and my two friends were the first to enter, dutifully digging the crowns out of their pockets for the cover. Meanwhile, Scott and I were inviting the Norwegian couple to a birthday party on the outskirts of the city the following night. We exchanged numbers with them and wrote down some details on a scrap of paper.

“Alright, see you then.” Scott's feet remained firmly planted on the cobblestones of the square. My mouth curled into a mischievous grin.

“Are you not coming in?” the Norwegian guy asked.

“No. We're gonna head home. Have fun.”

And with that, Scott turned heel, grabbed me, and began the trek up the hill to my fourth floor walk up in Vinohrady.

The next day we discovered that my two friends had had to stop David from going home with a prostitute, because as he so slurringly put it “I've never done that before.” They'd convinced his middle-aged British ass that maybe that was a decision he should make when he was only two sheets to the wind, rather than three. And the Norwegians never made it to the party the following night, they called to apologize, saying they were too hung over. (Whether that was true or they weren't prepared to spend another evening with us, I cannot say.) I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to be a part of those stories—until I realized I had created those stories. Then I set to plotting with Scott for the next big adventure.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 8th, 2013 06:23 am (UTC)
Oh, naughty! LOL.
Feb. 8th, 2013 01:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that was a very naughty chapter of my life.
Feb. 8th, 2013 01:31 pm (UTC)
That's quite a story! Thank you for sharing.
Feb. 9th, 2013 08:19 pm (UTC)
Wow. Sounds like your adventures have given you a lot to write about!
Feb. 9th, 2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
Bahaha oh I love reading stories from your life! Especially these ones of daring debauchery.
Feb. 10th, 2013 01:27 pm (UTC)
My maternal grandparents are from somewhere in Czechoslovakia. One of these days, I need to go to Prague!
Feb. 11th, 2013 12:27 am (UTC)
Wow, what a wild life.
Feb. 11th, 2013 09:28 am (UTC)
Lol, shame on y'all for getting them into it and abandoning them. Sounds like quite the adventure, though!
Feb. 11th, 2013 01:20 pm (UTC)
There's something so fun about creating stories in our real lives!
Feb. 11th, 2013 06:11 pm (UTC)
I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to be a part of those stories—until I realized I had created those stories.

Love this conclusion.

Funny, when I hear "cabaret" I think of musical theater and not strippers!
Feb. 11th, 2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
Ha, yes, prostitutes are a decision requiring only minimal intoxication. ;)
Feb. 11th, 2013 11:21 pm (UTC)
Sounds like quite an adventure anyway even though you didn't go that night.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )