Back when I was young organising a drinking session was full of pitfalls - usually dominated around whether we'd get served or when we'd manage to act like dicks and get thrown out of the pub. An evening out usually folllowed the same steps: get to pub and hide in the nook round by the pool table, the oldest looking or the one with the best ID would head to the bar and order (why is it that some kids seem to be 6 foot and able to grow a full beard before the age of 15, which was definitely not me); then we'd play pool, put shit songs on the jukebox (90s music has a lot to answer for!) before we'd invariably act like dicks because we were, at the end of the day, still kids, and therefore dicks. Then we'd get thrown out.
Sometimes there would be a few hours between the first and last of these steps, sometimes there would be a lot less time, but I'd say that the last step was achieved around 75% of the time before we left of our own accord or just ran out of money. It was a constant game of cat and mouse with the landlord of the pub who obviously knew what was going on but was prepared to take our money as long as we didn't act like dicks. I grew up in quite a small village and this seems to be the norm - if you've watched the fantastic film "Hot Fuzz" starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost it's exactly like the pub scene - right down to the part where a 5 foot 2 teenager produces a fake ID stating that he's in his late 20s (my brother is 12 years older than I am and I thought about carrying his old passport but there was no way that anyone was daft enough to have taken it seriously).
But anyway - back to the last step of our night out in getting thrown out. On none of the occasions of getting thrown out was I ever tempted to argue or even fight with the landlord or the bouncer doing the evicting. Primarily because I was the 5 foot 2 teenager (I think I must have been starved as a child as I grew nearly a foot in under a year when I worked in a restaurant between the ages of 16 and 18), secondly because the landlord was fucking massive (although looking back I assume everyone looks fucking massive when you're only 5 foot 2) and thirdly because the landlord knew all of our parents, who if they weren't in the other bar of the pub were probably regulars. As I said, it was a small village and everyone knew everyone else.
Nowadays a drinking session is much easier to sort out - turn up, drink then go home. Occasionally the added step of showing ID rears its ugly head but that's usually not my concern (Mrs AC actually loves it when she gets asked for ID but it usually only happens in the US, although I was asked in Walgreens beneath PH in Vegas and I declared to Mrs AC that I must look under 21 - my parade was soon pissed on when the cashier stated that it's store policy to ID everyone, irrespective of age).
But a couple of weeks ago I was enjoying a nice lunch with Mrs AC, sipping a few glasses of something chilled and bubbly when I was asked for ID and the end of the conversation was "this gentleman is going to escort you out" and I actually thought of violating my cardinal rule of "don't fight with the bouncer". The gentleman in question was 20 years older than me, a foot shorter was not going to be prepared for a fight - even if he could kick like a mule I could out run him quite easily. But I had a flashback to when I last got close to fighting a bouncer - it didn't go well. I got my head staved in. I must add that the bouncer in question was a Winnie-the-Pooh baby bouncer which was being used by the older cost centre to bounce in a door way and smashed me right on the side of the head, breaking my eye socket and giving me the worst black eye I've ever seen. In my line of business it's really not a good look to turn up to work looking like I've been in a fight over the weekend although I did notice that even senior guys were offering to get me coffee that week!
So back to our lunch - we were at Heathrow airport waiting for flights when there's an announcement "If there's a Mr AC please could he make himself known to a member of staff". This isn't overly unusual as I often get offered pre-boarding or assistance getting to the gate but given that I haven't flown in nearly 2 years it's certainly a surprise. I usually politely decline this but some agents in the US take this to a new level (I once had my carry on luggage ripped from my hand by a NY check in agent who then proceeded to literally shove people out of the way whilst loudly stating "VIP coming through" which still causes me pain). So I identify myself and get back to my lunch and drinks with Mrs AC.
That's when the problems start - the lady who approaches me is not with a bouncer, he's with UK Border Force (our version of CBP) and she asks to see my passport. I hand it over and she asks if I have another passport to which I reply no. Then she starts reading from a script (about being denied boarding which is effectively making me aware that I can't sue them) and tells me that the border force agent needs to escort me out of the airport.
My passport has expired - I am a complete idiot. Not only have I let it expire but a few weeks before I've actually renewed my ESTA and typed the soon to be expired expiry date into the site.
I say my farewells to Mrs AC and get escorted out of the airport whilst making small talk with the border agent and ask him if he thinks I'm an idiot. He diplomatically says he sees it all the time but then enquires whether Mrs AC is going to be ok. Luckily for me she was off to NY for work whereas I was heading to LA and we weren't spending any more time together in the US after our lunch.
On the journey home I e-mail my client telling him I won't be able to get to the US and I'll call him on Monday morning to explain which ended up with him howling with laughter and calling me a fucking idiot.
But that was a few weeks ago and now I've renewed my passport I've been in NY for a week, heading home this evening and I'm back in NY next week with Mrs AC who has been spending a week per month in NY since she started her new job back in April.
Happy holidays & Merry Christmas to all - at the moment I'm planning to be in Vegas some time in February (hopefully Superbowl time but not confirmed yet) next year but given I haven't played a proper hand of poker (home sessions don't count) in nearly 2 years I'm sure there's some easy money to be won.