The Last Photo In The Camera

It was the kind of night in New York City where you push the boundaries of human experience. In the name of science I had arrived in the non-capital of the USA with a pack of “Never Hungover” potions to see if I could break a few barriers or at least disprove their claims. I was the guy that bought the “Indestructible Wallet” and broke it in 3 days. It actually said “indestructible” on the packaging – not as a trademark, but as an adjective. I was not impressed.

I remember having a conversation with a Mr. Patrick Keatinge some time ago that went like this:

Me: So you know that feeling you get when you drink?

PK: Yes?

Me: You know, when you feel like … like you’re immortal?

PK: What?

Me: You know, that you’re totally invincible and unstoppable and could take over the world if you could stay drunk long enough.

PK: Er. <pause> I don’t think all people experience being drunk in the same way that you do.

So that was then. Twenty years later, I’ve found that unless I get so drunk I can hardly breathe, I more often than not don’t feel indestructible, I just feel that I’m going to feel pretty dreadful the next day.

Enter stage left: the snake oil. “Never hungover” was shipped to my wife’s office as a promotional venture. Surely a sign that I should get PD Mulhooned in New York, New York, presumably the place that’s so mired in alcoholism that they anticipated all the repetition that accompanies the communication of the binge drinker.

For night one’s experiment I drank some “Fin Du Monde” – a Belgian triple beer designed by monks to test their faith. I drank a fair amount, and swigged the mystical anti-hangover elixir and went to sleep. The next day I duly attended my conference and felt quite awesome. I was encouraged. Perhaps this bottle of foul tasting liquid (the Never Hungover, not the beer) was the equivalent of Achilles’ mum dipping his dicky heel in the Styx and getting him super-invincible. A whole new lease of life on the aging liver was now a distinct possibility.

So night two is at best a little hazy. I was emboldened by my new found ability to put my liver in a briefcase and declare diplomat immunity when the hangover’s grim reaper came tapping on my shoulder the morning after. This all got me very excited, very thirsty and perhaps not a little reckless. The first victims were two young and in love tourists who spoke a smattering of English, and were stationed between me and my hotel after a few bottles of wine in some Italian restaurant. “Who goes to Italian restaurants?” I hear you ask. Well, a friend was there, so that’s where I went. Luckily they had booze without pasta or bread or pizza.

Bizarrely, my friend at the cheesy Italian restaurant had the same camera as me. I took a photo of it as I was rather inebriated and excited

The young couple in question were standing in front of a large sign saying “Lo” which is probably some kind of biblical reference. Below the sign was another sign that pronounced “ve”, which is probably some Roman numerals for something. They mustered up enough coherent English to indicate something about a “photo” and then handed me their camera. Clearly this was before seeing that my eyes couldn’t really focus. I must have been the only person on that busy urban intersection – surely there were better candidates. Or maybe they saw that I had my own camera stuffed into my pocket. After all, I had been documenting my new found mythical invulnerability on video.

It used to do “in camera HDR” which was quite fun

After some gesticulating, posturing and smiling – by me, I had satisfied their desires to be held hostage by a swaying and salivating photographer. But their ordeal was not over – I decided to use the international sign language for a threesome, and invited them to take a photo of me. With my camera, which I whipped out of my pocket on its string loop. A loop that I was not as attached to as I had imagined. The male of the couple held out his hand as the camera flew past, out of my grasp and onto the concrete. The sickening crack as it landed was worth it for the look of absolute horror on his face. I had never known what looking aghast had truly meant until that moment. He looked at me, his lady, at the phone and back doing an uncanny impression of Edvard Munch’s screamer.

He picked up the camera after having fumbled what neither of us had expected to be a pass. His lady looked over as he worked the buttons and then he gave me the international sign language for “it’s toast”.

“Rubbish,” I said and turned it on and off a few times. Eventually the lenses from the compact camera extended with the kind of grinding noise normally associated with a missed gear change on a 1950s tractor, and completely out of character for a small sleek Sony Cybershot. It was as if the Queen had farted loudly at her inauguration, and followed up by burping the alphabet and slapping the prime minister on the back while asking him to pull her finger again.

My drunken enthusiasm shone through and I pressed the camera back into the man’s palm and stood in front of the sign ready for my photo. The man took one, passed back the camera and the couple beat a hasty retreat. I can only assume the wind changed as they still carried their Munch Scream faces as they scurried off.

On the one hand, my $350 camera was now scattered and smothered like so much Waffle House fare. On the other hand, I had scared some tourists, and now I had something resembling a camera and nothing to lose. All I had to do was find some more tourists, pretend I wanted to have them take my picture and then drop the camera on the concrete in front of their outstretched hands whenever I wanted to remind myself of an aghast look. And night two of my immortality had only just begun. There was still Ice T to meet at the Copacabana. But that’s another story.

The last photo. Stinking couple couldn’t even focus the broken automatic camera

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