After we graduated from college, my wife and I went on an amazing bus tour through Europe to celebrate. There were two different tour options: A Superior Tour which went through Europe for almost two weeks and you stayed in amazing Four Star properties or the second option (the one that we chose) was almost 6 weeks long and you stayed in “economy” facilities.
We really tried not to mind since it enabled us to go away for much longer, but in some cities – my OCD was really put to the test. I will circle back and reminisce about some of the other acts of chaos that ensued at another time, but this is about another instance of fowl fouls attacking me yet again.
When we got to Rome, it was nighttime and pitch black. You couldn’t tell exactly where we were staying as the bus pulled up, but we were met with the unmistakable aroma of shit circling in the air upon arrival. As we were unloaded from the bus, we quickly found out that the place we were about to sleep at was in the middle of a combination campground/animal sanctuary. When I say that we quickly found out, it was because there were loose peacocks strutting around offering people directions and refreshments as we received our rooming assignments. I was freaked out big time and it was like being at The Bronx Zoo, but I was really trying to be a good sport and not make it miserable for my girlfriend.
As I was trying to get over the sight of the stray peacock and hoping that it wouldn’t charge at me like in one of those When Animals Attack videos, my wife told me to turn around quickly. As I turned, I came face to face with a wire fence and a GIGANTIC ostrich-like bird poking through the fence and making eyes at me literally inches from my face. It gave me a wink and then it whispered at me “the pigeons in London tipped me off that you were coming.” Of course, I freaked out and it started making these guttural, obscene noises at me: UGHHHHHH MUGHHHHHH UGHHHHH and decided that I would sleep on the bus and I was quickly told to grow up (by my girlfriend, not the emu!) I ran away like I had just stolen a television and my heart was racing.
As we were shown to our space, I froze in my tracks and started to have another panic attack. We were, literally, going to be sleeping in a wooden shed. A fucking wooden shed! It wasn’t even like it was a nicely appointed wooden shed either – it was an eight by eight bare room with a door, two single cots, and a window. I knew going into the tour that I would have to suck it up, but this was too much. I may be high-maintenance, but it was all the more shocking because the livestock actually had better appointed accommodations than we did!
That shed was hot as balls so I opened the shutters immediately upon entering and it didn’t help. I started complaining as soon as the first bead of sweat started trickling down my forehead, but my wife hung out the window to look around and said that we made out better than some of the others did. She was trying to see the bright side and noticed that our shed had trees surrounding it thinking that would offer some shade to make it cooler.
As I hung out the window (there were no screens on the windows) to look, I noticed that there were trees along the path to our shed and in those trees were chickens. Lots of chickens! Those crazy birds were hanging out as if they were in a downtown Barber Shop just chillin’ with their Homies. That was an immediate red alert for me, but it was getting late, and they refused to let me sleep on the bus so I really had no choice in the matter and solved it the only way I knew how – I got wasted and collapsed into bed.
I actually came to find out later that chickens are able to lift themselves off the ground and can get over fences and up into trees, thus the peanut gallery glaring down at me from their branches. The next morning, we were scheduled to go on a walking tour at the crack of dawn, but I knew that unless I was drunk and passed out, there was no way that I was going to be able to sleep there. The ruckus from those animals moaning and doing God only knows what to each other or the stray people that wandered close to their gate was unnerving. I was huddled under my sheet like that little kid in The Sixth Sense that saw dead people. The only thing was that I didn’t have Bruce Willis to protect me. If you are ever outnumbered by chickens twenty to one, you want Bruno on your side in case it gets ugly. Yippee Ki-Yay Mother Clucker!!!
The next morning rolled around and I was spent! We had gone to bed less than four hours earlier, we were two weeks into the tour, drank every night and most of the every day and I was just exhausted. I had been to Rome multiple times before this trip and although I LOVE Rome to pieces, I had to skip out of the walking-tour for fear that my body would just collapse if I attempted it. My girlfriend left with group to go on the tour and I slipped back into my coma.
If I can, let me try to illustrate the next series of events that unfolded: I was still partially drunk, slipping in and out of consciousness while I was recovering, and just all around minding my business. There I was trying to get over the fact that they mail coffee beans in more elaborate shipping crates than the one that I was currently sleeping in, when I remember dozing off for the last time. When I’m asleep, I don’t move at all – I’m like a dead body after rigamortis has set in. I look like a corpse with my arms crossed across my chest and I absolutely cannot sleep without my blue tempur blinders.
I cannot pinpoint the exact cause, but something woke me up abruptly. My face and forehead really hurt and my blinders were off my head completely and strewn across the shed on the floor, which had never happened to me before. Assuming I had been tossing and turning in my drunken slumber, I chalked it up to a hangover and got out of bed. As I grabbed my robe and headed over to the bathroom area, people were staring at me as I walked by and for a split-second I thought I might be accidentally streaking another one of the tour rest stops.
In Nice, I was heading from the showers back towards our room (coincidentally we were once again staying in a shed, but that one was a much nicer shed– it was French after all) and people were whistling, calling to me in foreign tongues and chatting up a storm. I felt like a celebrity for a second and didn’t realize until one of the tour buses actually honked at me and all the passengers were pointing down what they were seeing. I was walking around and my bathrobe was open and trailing behind me like a cape leaving the whole front of my body exposed and showing off my bits and bobs to everyone. The tie for the bathrobe was still in place knotted around my waist, but because it was made of thin red silk, it blew open as I was walking and I didn’t realize it. Needless to say I was pretty popular that night at the bar.
Although I wasn’t streaking this time, a lot of people were staring at me again and I didn’t realize why until I got into the bathroom. I looked into the mirror and almost shit my pants because my whole face was covered in red marks. My forehead, cheeks, nose and chin all had crazy scratches and I thought for sure that I was still drunk or hallucinating so I walked back to the shed to wait for my girlfriend to come back from the tour. I have OCD and my finger and toe nails never even reach the tip of my skin, so there was no way it was me scratching myself. My wife has even shorter finger nails than I do, and then I checked her toe nails just to make sure it wasn’t her. Due to the sheer amount of scratches on my face, it was baffling and then it hit like a tornado as I came back up the path to the shed and saw a chicken on the end of the branch about a foot away from the shutter window to my shed: It was a fucking chicken that scratched my face! No wonder my blinders were off my head and on the floor – I never move when I sleep and they have never come off my head before. And I am such a heavy sleeper that I didn’t even feel it as the chicken was most-likely tea bagging me in my sleep!
As my wife returned she looked at me with shock and a little twinge of disgust mixed in as if to say “what did you do now?” I am clumsy and uncoordinated and consistently hurt myself but even she couldn’t have blamed me for a chicken would have gone all Siegfried and Roy on my face while I was sleeping. Who saw that coming? The lesson I learned that day: Don’t skip the walking tour or a chicken will kick the shed out of you!
More on our European adventures at another time when I revisit our tour and explain about how my wife tried to drug our tour guide while we were in Amsterdam…