A *Bro In Soho

Clueless, Penniless Dandy Doesn’t Wow The Ladies

First Impressions is a Prague Wandering series that chronicles the early days of expatriate life for young Americans studying in Prague. The series is intended to capture the shock and awe that many foreigners experience when venturing outside their comfort zone.

By Ray Paul Biron

Photo courtesy of konstantin via Flickr

Drink theft might not impress the ladies. Photo courtesy of konstantin via Flickr

It is not everyday that two fine British girls roll with you out to the clubs and bars of Soho, West London. But that was the case this particular Saturday evening as my dear mate Tyler and I traipsed down the cobbled streets, avoiding the double-deckers with two London College girls waltzing behind.

The girls lived down Tyler’s hall at school and had invited us to go out. One of them had grown up in France outside of Paris and apparently spoke five languages fluently. The other, a native of London, was a political science major whose lawyer dad specialized in dealing with members of Parliament. They were impressive, and we wanted to live up to their expectations. Of course they knew the city better than us but we felt obliged to show them a good time.

“Where you girls want to go?”

“Anywhere! Let’s go somewhere fun,” they cried back together.

The city came alive as the thousands of lights brightened and the voices heightened. Hundreds crowded the streets and I grabbed one of the girl’s hands as we weaved onward towards the brilliant show of lights. In other areas the city seemed American, almost like a postcard out of Manhattan. But here the brick buildings rose into the illuminated sky and one could still feel the whispering power of the Empire. The sheer diversity of the masses on the streets recalled the far corners of the map that had once been under British domination. But the sun had set long ago both on that chapter and on this warm fall evening. It was late and time to drink.

We wandered around for a while before arriving upon a crowded square that boasted a five-way intersection. Traffic essentially stopped here and only the occasional bus and box-shaped taxi made its way through. Across the way a sign for Bar Soho stood protruding over the masses. It appeared to be the perfect option for a couple of Americans romancing locals on a night like this.

“You’re an asshole kid. Get the hell out of here.”

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“That would be 18 pounds,” the bartender said.

I looked over my shoulder at the two girls laughing amid strains of the American song Stacy’s Mom. I could not believe I just offered to buy them shots.

“How about the cheapest vodka.”

“That is the cheapest vodka.”

Mother of God.  I guess I would have to resort to using my American charm on her.

“Well let me introduce myself, my name is Ray and I’m from Boston in the States.” I gave a convincing smile as I shook her hand.

“Nice to meet you.”

“Anyway I love your accent. It sounds familiar, are you from Manchester?”

“I’m Irish.”

I nodded my head knowingly, “Yeah, I’ll have two of those vodka shots.”

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Photo courtesy of kоnstantin via Flickr

How not to pick up chicks. Photo courtesy of kоnstantin via Flickr

Slowly I began to realize how poorly planned this evening was. We had not had a single drink back at Tyler’s dorm room and now with everyone around us enjoying a dazzling night of intoxication, we found ourselves sober and sad. My last 20 or so pounds, an invaluable amount at this point, had been converted to 3 milliliters of cheap vodka that then went into some British girls’ stomachs.

I skulked over to the bar. Outside it began raining, obscuring the lights outside. Next to me a couple, dressed as if they had just met the Queen, ordered a grey goose and tonic. They both took one sip before turning around to enjoy the music and observe their fellow patrons dance. Soon they began moving too and left their drinks behind to go join the throbbing crowd.

——————————

“You’re bat-shit crazy,” advised Tyler.

“Alcohol is alcohol, homie.” I had borrowed three drinks at this point that had been left unattended at the bar.

“You have no idea what’s in those, seriously that’s stupid. ”

“Whatever I’m young.”

As drink after drink found their way into my hand the music got better, the dancing was easier, and the lights shone clearly through the rain. I tried drinks from the ends of the world and toasted with some of the finest gentlemen of London Town.

“What are you drinking, may I ask?”

“Chateau d’Yquem, good sir. A delicious white wine.”

“Ah, one of my personal favorites too.  A bitter yet enthralling taste.”

The girls too seemed impressed by my exuberant display of wealth. They hung around me, waiting on my every word and gazing with admiration as I returned with yet another drink.

“I’ve never seen someone spend so much in one night!” the girls observed with disbelief.

By the time I felt the yank on my arm and the elbow in my back everything seemed quite all right. The second part of Eric Clapton’s “Layla” was grooving as the security guard shoved me through the crowd and threw me out onto the street.

“You’re an asshole kid. Get the hell out of here.”

Tyler followed me out, but the girls stayed inside, probably not even realizing that we had left. The rain had slowed to a drizzle and the square was still bustling with noise and commotion. We began our walk home. The Shard, a reminder of Britain’s continued economic prosperity, rose in the distance. It still felt as though we were somewhere in the past though, in a place that refused to let go of its former glory. I expressed this to Tyler loudly and he agreed. If the city heard, it did not seem to care about the theories of a couple drunken Americans on her streets. The clock on Big Ben still ticks and the bells of St. Paul’s still ring. A couple pence jingled in my pocket, enough for an order of fries, the small size, at McDonalds.

*Bro: A young, usually white male variously and often negatively characterized as being preppy, party-loving, egotistical and sexist. Frequently a member of a fraternity at university.

Ray Paul Biron is in the Tufts University College of Arts and Science Class of 2016. His hometown is Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

This article was adapted from an assignment for the travel writing class at New York University in Prague.

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Categories: Fall 2014 Issue Number 3, First Impressions, Travel

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.

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