Travel

J1 begun: meet the roommates

Things have not gone according to plan. No, they have not. The blog was meant to have started this day last week.

I picked up, somewhere along the way, either in an airport or in a scone, the single worst case of the shits I have ever had. A week. Of my life. Gone. In New York. There’s been nothing to write about. I’ve spent the week in the same house eating bananas, rice, apple sauce and dry bagels, anything to gum me up.

I don’t know what I did wrong. I don’t know what I did to deserve this. Maybe there is a higher power and she wanted to do her utmost to stop me from making it here. Based on my first J1, I will do awful things. Maybe she worried the blog would be a tool used to corrupt.

Another thought, which occurred to me shivering and sweating somewhere over the Atlantic, was that maybe this was a pre-emptive hangover, maybe it was my body’s way of telling me not to go back there, look what it did to us last time. Whatever happened it’s done now hopefully, but I can assure you if it comes back you shall read all about it.

We’re in New York, the five of us: me, Fun, Gin, DooDoo and The Mitty. Names have been changed minimally to allow the guilty easy claim to their own debauchery/ideas as they are documented. I hope not to lose any friends in the course of this. I’m going to try to be honest.

I was first to arrive, last Saturday night, looking like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. We’re staying in my auntie’s house in Queens, which is a godsend. An actual house, not a Brooklyn chicken loft with fifteen Irish, one jacks and no air con. It’s temporary and we’re going to be turfed out soon so if anyone has room in their chicken loft I’d appreciate if you’d let me know.

Fun arrived next. He managed to get a lift from a stranger from Newark airport to Queens. The beauty of America is that you can accept drinks, sweets, lifts from strangers and only good will come of it. Fun is among the maddest bastards I’ve ever met.  His life is like a collage of Country Living, Vogue and The 120 Days of Sodom.

He once met a girl in Coppers who was over from Manchester for the weekend with her friends and ended up going back with her to the flat she was renting in Smithfield. Three months later, he booked flights to Manchester and a hotel to go visit her. I don’t know what to make of that really, but I think it’s important people do these things. Other people.

He coordinated the clothes he was wearing to his suitcase just to pack it. He knows more about shirts, shoes and chambray than anyone I know. He says things like “Buy the twill one” and I’m pretty sure he makes up words just to fuck with the rest of us because he knows we’re clueless. He has aesthetically-attuned Aspergers.

One day, Fun said these words:

“I’m going to get a hipster American girlfriend, and then cheat on her, with lots of Irish girls…”

Gin came next. Gin is looking forward to becoming nocturnal again. We spent last summer in Paris, where I learned that he can drink his own body weight. His 21st ended with us walking home at 10am while he hit every car between Châtelet and Puteaux, singing one line from Arctic Monkeys “Teddy Picker” on repeat. “…Who’d want to be men of the people, when there’s people like you.” Then he’d hit a parked car and start again.

He works in a chocolate shop and the day before Valentine’s Day, the busiest day of the chocolatier calendar, he got drunk on Calvados on his own on my birthday, missed half the day and told them he was late because Fun had an epileptic fit. He is a very intelligent man.

Gin writes great poetry and can run a tight magazine. He makes good G&Ts and has a habit of leaving bloody tissues around the house. He once told me, when I expressed my desire for a world in which everyone got along, that I thought like a dog.  Of the summer, he expects equal measures of dissipation and the arts, “low bitches do high culture”, as he so eloquently put it himself. His catchphrase is not “fab times and god bless”.

The Mitty, to be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about yet. I know he takes the definite article. In classic immigrant style, Gin arrived at the house Sunday night with a smelly Irish friend from the airport. He was the wrong side of too much in-flight entertainment and misquoting Twelfth Night spectacularly. This led to more than one of us saying: “He’s gas, can we keep him?” We have kept him. He takes very little feeding and rarely has to be watered. I don’t think he knew what water was until he met us.

Some might have The Mitty down as a misanthrope but I think it’s more that he’s not on full speaking terms with reality. He is wonderfully depressed and overeducated. We’ve put him on twitter and let him off, which will be interesting.

He drinks copiously, but seems to be able to hold it from what I’ve seen so far. As far as a backstory goes, still haven’t gotten much of one out of him, but he’s highly entertaining and hasn’t stolen anything yet.

DooDoo showed up Monday with a litre of Jim Beam he bought in duty free. He’s taking the cultural immersion part of the J1 very seriously. He’s concerned his wisdom teeth might act up so brought a Tupperware full of meds, which is one of the funniest single items I’ve seen since I got here. He keeps a marshmallow in a glass of whiskey in the press in case the teeth give him trouble so he can “dab them” with it.

Doodoo is responsible for some of the worst phrases that have ever been said out loud. He is the man who gave us “stir their guts” as a metaphor for sex. A man governed by utilitarianism and the forces of evil, he can pick a lock with a spoon and clear a room with a sentence. He is more prepared for a zombie apocalypse than anyone in the free world. He can skin a rabbit with a Gillette Fusion ProGlide but thought D-Day was my birthday.

In Paris last summer, having been locked out of the house at night, he hopped over the wall of a primary school and took a dump in the bin in the playground. The bin was in the shape of a frog and he had to take the head off to do what he had come to do. Since that day DooDoo has, for all intents and purposes given up on the moral high ground.

He thought expats just meant Irish people who lived abroad. Cute.

Thus and hencely, we have arrived.

Follow D's stateside adventures here: @D_JoyceAhearne