>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
April 24, 2006

Can we talk about Heathrow airport for a moment? Great. I’m not sure who designed it, but if they’re still alive, I’ll kill ’em. Remember that scene in Love Actually where the little boy is running through the airport to tell the girl he loves her? Well I pretty much took the same route as the kid and had to stop twice for water and once to relive my bladder. So you know that kid was hauling some serious ass.

The Heathrow Airport is a fucking labyrinth and people bitch about the O’Hare being insane? Fuck them. I’m surprised more track athletes don’t train there. They probably do and just got fucking lost in the 500 meter. And I don’t understand how the four of us got lost. I’ve been to Europe four times before this and didn’t get lost in the airport once. I was in Berlin, where every sign was in German, and I didn’t get lost. Yet in the motherland, the country that spawned the fucking language, we wandered around Terminal 2 for 45 minutes before we could find the Aer Lingus ticket counter. After purchasing our tickets, we found ourselves at Gate 2. Our departure gate was 89, so another 30 minutes of cardio ensued, but not before I was felt up by security.

“I didn't want to say this, but Ireland really is the Wisconsin of Europe. It became very clear that I crossed the Atlantic Ocean only to find myself in Green Bay.”

Now I know that I joke about security a lot, but even though I have to take off my shoes, and walk barefoot through the metal detectors, I’ve never had a real problem. I was cruising in a problem-free zone…until Heathrow International Airport. For the first time in my life I beeped going through the metal detector. So I stretched out my arms and legs and everything, letting the nice lady pat me down. Everything seemed standard until she reached my torso. Let’s just say that if this were grade school, she would have gotten to second base over the clothes. It wasn’t even a light graze, but rather a “your boobs are so big that I have to make sure that’s fat tissue you’ve got in your bra and not grenades” grab. And all I could think was, I hope to God this isn’t the most action I’d be getting on this trip.

Looking back I must say that the highlight of Heathrow Airport was watching the Ron Weasley-looking fuck use his skateboard down the moving sidewalk and completely wiping out. I mean it was a real showstopper how hard he hit the pavement and it made on of the 50-mile hikes well worth it.

I love how the UK uses words like, “lovely,” and “well done,” and “quality.” I wonder if they feel the same when they hear us say, “Suck donkey cock,” and “Eat anus, bitch.”

Why when we visit other countries we look for places we have at home. While we were driving into Dublin from the airport, my mom pointed out the fact that Ireland, much like America, has an Office Depot. Our cab driver was like, “Yeah we got running water too, love. Pipes, and a toilet flusher too! What will we Irish invent next?” And it was about that time I realized this was the best country in Europe ever.

In Ireland we got lost pretty frequently, even with the eight maps collected between us from the free brochures. But my mom insisted that we only ask redheaded people to help us find our way. As if redheads have existed in Ireland longer and knew the lay of the land better than anyone else.

When we arrived at St. Patrick’s Cathedral I took a look around, studied all the graves, said a little prayer, and then promptly retreated to the gift shop. I bought all my friends shot glasses right there in the church because Ireland is the only country that promotes alcohol in its religious venues. God bless them for it.

We passed the Guinness Factory while riding a public bus, and I cried out and began to applaud wildly when I saw it. I was the only one who made such a ruckus. It made me wonder why the locals weren’t as excited to see this magnificent building, but then I figured that Guinness Factory is just like Wisconsin’s Miller Lite Company. People from Wisconsin acknowledge its existence, but you don’t see any tourists clinging to the company’s fence like Marlon Brando in A Street Car Named Desire, ripping off his wet t-shirt screaming, “Guinness! Guinness! Guinnnnnnnnnessssssss!” in the middle of a downpour.

I didn’t want to say this, but Ireland really is the Wisconsin of Europe. I didn’t want to admit it when I saw that everybody brought their kids and newborns into the pubs with them. I didn’t want to admit the similarities of beer factories in the city. I didn’t want to admit it when I saw the plethora of cheese wheels for purchase, but when I saw one of those boats that drive on land and on the water (a duck if you will) it became very clear that I crossed the Atlantic Ocean only to find myself in Green Bay.

Why is it that our schools offer English dialect classes learning how an upside down “e” is properly pronounced? You’re not there to waste a semester reliving My Fair Lady. I’d like to see a class labeled, “Development in Irish Brogue” or “Sound Like You Live in Sussex,” only because “fucking” sounds so much better when it’s pronounced “fecking.” Basically, I’d like to leave college a little more broke, but a lot more Irish-sounding.

I don’t eat at fast food places when I travel. So the first day we get to Ireland Viv was starving and we went to the mall by our hotel. Even though I had been up for 24 hours at that point, I was lucid enough to realize that I didn’t cross a fucking ocean to eat at KFC in a food court. If I wanted to smell like grease I could have gone to a fucking KFC at home. That being said, I feel that as an American I should be able to pee for free in whatever McDonald’s I want to. In fact, McDonald’s should have signs that say, “Restrooms open to customers and Americans only.” Because without Americans, McDonald’s would not be able to have a restaurant in any other country but ours anyway.

When you go on vacation you never think it’s going to rain, but it always does. Even if you bring an umbrella it usually gets accidentally left in the hotel room, and no one on this planet is immune from purchasing that souvenir umbrella for thirty bucks just because it has U2 printed on it. The exchange rate for American money is ridiculous. I felt like our money was the equivalent of pesos (and in London it pretty much was.) I wouldn’t mind purchasing an emergency U2 umbrella, but I didn’t. I purchased one in London with BBMak on it. And it wasn’t thirty, it was fifty. And no, I am not proud of it, but yes, I will (grudgingly) use it again.

We spent a couple of days in London, and I’m a big tea drinker. Huge, about three cups every morning. The first landmark I see in London is a Starbucks. I laughed, but if that was the first place I saw in China, I’d be mighty pissed.

So my great-great-great-grandfather was Irish. While I was in Ireland I found out that my last name, Cullen, derives from the Gaelic term “puppy” from ages and ages ago. How cool is that? Probably not as much as if my last name were Guinness. Go Irish!