It’s funny how the senses do things to us isn’t it?
The smell of an old lady’s perfume when you are standing next to her in a lift – reminds you of your own Grandma.
The taste of a sweet from when you were a kid – reminds you of your school.
The sound of a song…Well the sound of a song got me this afternoon. It was Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life”. Never heard it? For shame – I am sure colonial (read American) readers will know it well – Old Country (read British) readers will be less familiar, but it is an ace song.
I first heard it in Las Vegas back in 1998, and it’s firmly reminds me of the place and the time and the following event…
I was there in Vegas as part of the Towed Radar Decoy trials and development team, there for 6 weeks (long enough to be described by a waitress in a Vegas restaurant as “Jesus, 6 weeks in Vegas? That makes you a resident!”) doing an exercise with Tornado F3’s. This consisted of the aircraft flying with the TRD Pod fitted to the aircraft and the decoy being tested out in the desert of Nevada and then we would repair and refurbish the pod and decoy as required ready for future flights.
It meant we were kept busy, but not too busy, and we were very lucky to be housed for the six weeks in Fairfield Inn on Paradise. By which I mean the street Paradise – which runs parallel to the famous Las Vegas Strip. It meant we were wonderfully situated to enjoy our down-time when we weren’t working…and we were there to enjoy the full benefits that Vegas has to offer.
And we were there for the 4th of July, which we – I – fully enjoyed. And I really enjoyed that night…apparently…as it was the night I was poured into a Taxi at about 10:30pm – thus missing out on the spectacular firework show that was to be held that night over the strip…Anyway, I had enjoyed drinking a glass or two of the local brew (well, ok, vast quantities of Tequila…) and then had felt a little poorly.
I had, ahem, embarrassed, myself by insulting two ladies (who’s sexual orientation I had enquired about and then…well, that’s enough of that…moving swiftly on…) and it was decided that it would be wise to send me back to the hotel in a taxi before I embarrassed myself any more or else sparked a diplomatic incident in some way.
So, I was taken to the taxi rank by my room-mate who made sure I was in a taxi and sent me back to the hotel. Like a good Airman that I was – AM – I left the taxi and went straight to bed.
I woke up the next morning with a hangover of monster proportions – to the room phone ringing. I answered with an “Urgh”. It was the hotel receptionist who sounded a little…stressed.
“Airman. You are at the very top of my shit-list!”
“Oh,” I racked my flimsy memory and it completely failed me “What did I do?”
“You best get your Limey Ass down here right now with 15 bucks! You didn’t pay for the taxi when you got back, so I had to pay for it out of the petty cash. You own me the money before I go off shift…”
“Oh cripes! I am sorry” I stammered…and rose to find my wallet and went straight down stairs to pay the receptionist, Karin. She’d been very good to us Brits and I felt really guilty at screwing up so badly. She took my cash and I apologised again…and promised to buy her – and all the night staff – a pizza for their trouble.
Thankfully they saw the funny side of a Brit being unable to stay up past 11pm on 4th July…saying it was things like that that had allowed the colonials to win the War of Independence in the first place.
But as I sat down in the hotel lobby that morning to try to deal with my hangover with copious amounts of strong American Black coffee it was Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” that was playing in the background…with the lyrics that described what was going on in my head right at that time:
“It won’t stop
I won’t come down,
I keep stock
With a tick-tock rhythm
A bump for the drop
And then I bumped up
I took the hit that I was given
Then I bumped again
And then I bumped again”
And it was my head that was bumping…and I must admit that over the course of the six week deployment there it wasn’t the last time that my head would be bumping like it was that morning…but even today, when my iPod plays that song – I get transported back to that 4th July in Vegas, and, with a rueful smile I remember…