We decided to replace any kind of doubt or anxiety with excitement and anticipation for our first adventure without adults. We had a contact number for our friend, and that's all we needed. We thought. We landed in Heathrow two giggly girls flush with the thrill of riding on a plane for countless hours and then getting off to a new world. We went to the phones and called the guy we were staying with. He informed us he was actually in Ireland for St. Patty's Day and wouldn't be back in London for another three days. Ok, we thought, well, we'll figure it out.
An hour and a half later we were still stuck in Heathrow Airport. We lugged around our bags, assailing anyone who looked like they knew anything about the monstrosity of an airport. We were so tired. Two hours later we had finally located and boarded a public transit that took us to the Tube (aka London's Underground Railway). Two and a half hours after disembarking from the plane we were finally on our way to London.
After a little while we decided it was as good a time as any to descend. We got off the Tube, walked up the stairs and out of the station, and there it was: London. Except that this part of London was nothing like the section of London I had seen on my last trip. Oh well, we concluded, we'll just find a hotel.
After an inordinate amount of money spent on the hotel, a wonderfully hot shower, and a three hour nap, we were ready to explore. By this time it was close to eight o'clock at night. We took to the streets. There was nobody walking the streets. We started looking in restaurants. There were few eating, and all were in suits and very professionally dressed. We walked into a bar/restaurant. We both had the deer-in-headlights-what-the-hell-are-we-doing-where-the-hell-are-we look. Aka the foreigner look. Two nineteen-year-old blonde girls (if you can call my hair blonde) crisp with our first six months of college completed. We looked around. To our left a small round table of what appeared to be five thirty-year-old men began shouting and motioned us to come over. We went over. "Australia or Canada?" was the first question. "America!" was our joyful answer.
Over the next few hours we learned a couple of things. 1: We were in the financial district of London. Very few bars in the financial district. 2: Very few Americans travel. And 3: Nobody in London would deem flip-flops worthy of covering their feet. Londoners wear real shoes.
I was in flip-flops. During the shoe conversation I looked down at my feet. A fine layer of dust manipulated my feet, making them appear far darker than the rest of my body and legs. My toenails were gnarled and mangled from my current soccer season. I had three blisters visible to my glance. One was a blood blister. My feet looked repulsive. I kind of understood the whole no-sandals-in-London thing.
After a lot of beer and fielding inappropriate questions from the drunken men, the one Irishman at the table stood up. He looked down at me.
"Give me your mouth or give me your foot," he announced with a flourish.
I didn't know what to say to this. I looked around at the eager faces of his drunken companions. I looked at my friend. She smiled and shrugged. I leaned back, wrapped my hands around my hamstring, and pulled up to raise my foot in the air. Irishman seized my foot in both his hands and lowered his mouth down to suck on my dust-covered-travel-weary toes. He then exited the bar with (surprisingly) a smile contorting his face.