I burnt my toast! I stubbed my toe! I broke a nail! Whatever, whatever, blah, blah, blah. We’re all guilty of it. All of us little bloggers and blog-readers, complaining about the weather, the clouds or is it the traffic or maybe it’s the sparrows chirping too loudly? I don’t know and I don’t care. Ok, I didn’t care that is until this morning when I tore my wristband. Off a protruding nail on my bookshelf. The nail’s been there since the bookshelf was arranged thirteen years ago but today was the day when it fucked my life up. This is the same wristband I’ve been wearing since June 5 2015. I bet you’re disgusted, wrinkling your nose. Ugh, disgusting, right? Shut your first-world mouth up! You need to know the story behind this wristband to understand why I’ve been wearing it for so long. Almost a year.
Rock Am Ring‘s thirty year anniversary took place at the Flugplatz Mendig, Deutschland for the weekend of June 5-7 2015. I’d been to Germany before, I’d been to music festivals before. But my previous trip to Germany was a day-trip to Munich from Austria where I was on a week’s holiday with my parents when I was 16 and the music festivals I’d been to in Ireland were restricted to scumbag/moron-infested Oxegen and the quaint/homely Sea Sessions. So when friends suggested Rock Am Ring, I said what the hell.
What the hell indeed. I was sweating on the bus to Dublin Airport. I’m not the biggest fan of flying. In fact, of all my countless neuroses, my fear of flying is definitely in the top three jostling for top position with my fear of spiders and heights. While my two mates were laughing away, slamming cans and swapping each other’s vodka and whiskey I was sitting motionless, brow all a-sweat. I had xanax. I’d be ok I told myself.
We got through the security without hassle into departure gate…5 I think it was, I can’t remember but I do recall taking one of the two xanax tablets right after we got through security. Like some other drugs not worth mentioning, xanax’s effects are felt quicker if one can take one’s mind off the expectation of feeling the desired effect. That was easy enough to do, I had to try and keep my drunk-ass idiot friends lucid enough to be able to board the plane. I was counting the minutes, all three hours worth of them.
There we were, the three of us, twenty thousand plus feet in the sky, two of us snoring and one of us slowly, ever-so slowly beginning to calm down. I had the aisle-seat. I had my arms resting on both armrests. I had the option of buying some alcohol. The smiling air-stewardess provided me with three cans of 250ml Heineken and three baby bottles of Jameson. I emptied each bottle into each can, I think I had three empty cans within twenty minutes.
A Little Something: Mini-Jameson Photo Credit: Yukiho Tsunoda Flickr
Who said altitude affects level of drunkenness? I don’t know who said what because I was in another world. I have flashes of memory of myself and someone, a passenger, an air steward or pilot helping me get my friends off the plane. I definitely remember the heat when stepping off the plane. Night-time. Germany is hot, I thought. Then my thinking went somewhere with my memory. Trains, friendly homeless people, taxis, unhelpful, angry taxi drivers and a half-eaten pizza ring a bell though. I can testify a decent nights sleep can be found on a bench in front of a disused water-tower in the sleepy village of Andernach, which is the birthplace of Charles Bukowski. The next morning, four hours later at 5 am, the three of us hailed another less-angry taxi driver and got to Flugplatz Mendig a bit dazed and confused but alive.
In we go, all my German remembered from secondary school goes out the window as I garble my own form of German to the security guys searching my bag, they chuckle abut something while shaking their heads before waving me through. Another few steps and I’m ready to collapse. For some reason, the xanax I’m saving for the return trip to Ireland is burning a hole in my pocket and ingesting it seems necessary.The thought’s interrupted by another security man asking for my wrist, I oblige and he fastens the black and grey General Audience wristband on my right wrist.
We deserve medals for finding a spot to pitch our tent, stumbling, moaning and groaning our way through the mission. Our new home was between a multitude of red, blue, white, green and black tents, most of which already had owners awakening to their new neighbours arrival. “Guten morgen’s” were being exchanged. I couldn’t believe it. People saying good morning to each other? You’d never get that at an Irish festival. At Oxegen you’d probably get spat on or kicked in the mouth when you poke your head out of your tent. Just for the sake of re-assertion, I had to crack open one of the recently fetched cans of beer from the on-site Lidl. When our Irish accents were overheard by our fellow campers, they exchanged looks and smiled but that was it. No aggressive lad with his tracksuit bottoms tucked in socks asking for “just a smoke”, no goon pretending to be drunk thinking he’s the next Tommy Tiernan. Just relaxed drinking.
Eventually, I find myself in a crowd singing Papa Roach songs. “This is Die Toten Hosen” I’m informed by a shaved-headed youth in a tank-top, combats and doc martens. The cans of beer, so, so cheap. Blame the cheap beer. I laughed and said “They’re no Aslan, that’s for sure.” I don’t think he understood. He grabbed my right arm. I laughed again. He said something I couldn’t understand. His grip tightened. He was tugging at my wristband. “Hey, man, relax.” I said pulling my arm back. Tug of war time. He pulled my wristband, wrist and arm towards him. Again, all of a sudden I felt the need to just take that second xanax. Fuck it, I thought. But first thing’s first. “Enough.” I drive my skull into the persistent chap’s chest. He falls back, I fall forward. I remember someone pulling me back to my feet by my shoulders. And next thing I knew some girl was trying to explain to me why German girls don’t like being called frauleins. Die Toten Hosen set came to a close and I found myself having a new argument with the fraulein, this time about how much cheap wine one festival-goer could consume in the hours before daylight.
Die Toten Hosen’s Campino Photo Credit: taubertal-festival Flickr
She was all ears when I told her I was a travel-journalist, but she wouldn’t listen when I told her 750ml of merlot would cost me at least seven euro back in Ireland, so she laughed drinking her 75cent 750ml carton of zinfandel. I finished my carton, I can’t recall if that was before or after I consumed my xanax. Well, when I say everything following that moment is a blur, I mean it. What I remember are scenes with frayed edges, bright lights, something involving Marilyn Manson and crowd-surfing, a thunder-storm and a vegetarian bratwurst. I woke up groggy, breath stinking and head banging. New surroundings. I thought my tent was blue. Everything was a deeper shade of red. The fraulein’s snoring and I’m making a move. Where’s my phone? My hoodie’s gone. I search the floor of this tent with my eyes, no luck. She’s awake. She asks me what I think. I didn’t know what to say. I mean, I literally lacked the function to think. “The VIP section?” Apparently I was rubbing shoulders with the campsite’s aristocracy the night before and managed to fall asleep in the VIP campsite.
I was nodding, backing out of the tent, pretending to listen to her talking from her sleeping bag. All of a sudden she sat upright. “I have an idea. Give me your wristband. I can give you a VIP one instead.” She was rummaging around in her sleeping bag while I continued to slip out. “I think I’ll spend the rest of the festival slumming it…” I stated with a grin. “But it’s the last day.” That froze me in my tracks. Sunday. I’d missed an entire 36 hours, half of Friday and all of Saturday. What the fuck? How the fuck? And where the fuck are my friends? While I’m getting my phone out of my pocket, my wristband is being tugged at. I’m focusing on my phone’s cracked screen, so I only notice the shine from the scissors at the last moment. I yank my arm free, drop my phone and run from the tent.
It took me a while but eventually I found my tent. I opened a warm can of beer and fell asleep midway through.
When I was awoken by my mates nudging my ribs with their feet, it was time to go. I was shuddering, shivering and filled with remorse. I put on my sunglasses, fedora, pulled my socks up and followed my friends to the campsite exit, to the train station and finally to the airport. I got sick seven times before I boarded the plane. I was always careful to wipe my chin with my left arm, I didn’t want a puke-stained wristband. I wasn’t sitting beside my friends on the flight, instead I was between a middle-aged German couple. They kept having a conversation as if I wasn’t stuck in the middle. I asked the man, who was seated on my right, if he wanted to switch seats. He simply smiled and kept talking to his wife. I wasn’t as nervous about flying home as I was about flying out. I just wanted to get home. I didn’t have time or energy for anxiety. I closed my eyes about ten minutes into the flight. Just as I close them, I get a tap on my right shoulder. I open my right eye and slowly turn my head. “I was at the first ever Rock Am Ring” I was informed by the gentleman. I wasn’t given a chance to reply. “Thirty years ago, if only…” I close my right eye. “If only I had a little reminder of my youth…of my old age!” Bellowed laughter in my right ear and squeals in my left. Sentimental reminder or not, I’d gone through too much to lose this wristband over a forlorn tale pulling at my heartstrings. I pretended to fall asleep and had to remain this way until we landed in Dublin airport.
So, that’s it, that’s my tale of first world woe, all due to a memento from a forgotten weekend torn by a protruding nail. My life is over.