Back in the United States, the NR happily encounters the human stain.

Tainted Love 

Back in the United States, the NR happily encounters the human stain.

After returning from our recent trip to London and Paris, the first thing everyone (except for Night Ranger Mom and Dad) asked was, "Did you hook up?"

Sadly, the answer is no. This time, we behaved ourselves while on vacation, mainly because the NR went by herself and tried to exercise some caution when it came to matters of international relations. But, dear readers, you will be pleased to hear that we exercised absolutely no caution when it came to matters of drinkery. We drank so much Guinness Stout and Beaujolais Nouveau (which was released in France while we were there) that we forgot to take notes in the reporter's notebook we had dutifully packed. And it was brilliant, as they say in the UK.

However, we did dabble in some minor flirtations; it turned out that our freak-magnet powers transcended time zones and international borders. The most random offer? While crossing a street in Paris, a guy in a little Eurocar stopped at the light rolled down his window and asked, en français, if we wanted to get some coffee. We should have taken him up on it, but instead we just stammered, "Uh, non, merci," and continued strolling in the wrong direction to the Musée d'Orsay.

The most entertaining proposition occurred on our first afternoon in London. We had stopped in some café for coffee, and as we were walking out, we noticed our now-off-duty waiter smiling at us from the bar, where he was drinking with a friend. We stopped by to chat.

"I loooove American accents," said the friend.

"Come, sit down, have a drink with us," said the waiter, a cute guy from Tibet who had lived in England for about five years. We sat. The friend eventually left. Because we were probably giving off NR vibes, the waiter started talking about sex and relationships -- a topic that also transcends borders. He told us he was all about having fun (i.e., shagging anyone anywhere) without regret (i.e., seize every moment for shaggage). He revealed one of his lines: At the end of parties, he just goes up to people and asks, "Do you want to sleep with me?"

"Um, how's your success rate with that?" the NR asked, trying not to snicker.

"Oh, it works, though someone slapped me once," he said, giggling. How shocking. "So, how 'bout it, mate?"

The NR declined. "I was just kidding anyway," he said. Not surprisingly, our conversation ended after that.

During our first week back, we were eager not only to catch up with our friends and share such tales but also to drink more Guinness, so we headed to Harling's Upstairs. Though it's distinctly nonpub-like (or even very Irishesque), it does have draught Guinness, which, we'd heard, tasted different in the States because it's pasteurized here and not served at such a warm temperature. It was indeed a bit colder but still tasty.

When we arrived with our big group of Research Assistants at around 10, the crowd was sparse. Then the underage-looking college boys with backward baseball caps and their tanorexic Barbie-doll consorts started filing in. The quasi-Irish bar might as well be renamed the Beta House West of KC. In the meantime, singer Jonathan Ramsey went from Irish-type jigs to the insidious "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" Proclaimers song, which he sang twice, thus rendering it stuck in our heads for, like, a week.

Unfortunately, our freak-magnet powers were still probably jet-lagged, for many of our interactions with the native drinkers yielded little in the way of scandalicious results. In fact, our first interview, with an 18-year-old UMKC student, went something like this:

NR: "What's your name?"

Interviewee (suddenly realizing that the question "Hey, can I interview you?" actually meant that, well, an interview was about to take place): "Oh, shit!"

We also met four guys who work at the Melting Pot. We asked if they'd seen anyone dip anything that shouldn't be dipped, such as body parts. They understandably (and wisely) said no. "You mean, like, with the chocolate? Well, there's a little drizzle here and there," one said. That wasn't the deliciously sordid answer we were hoping for, but OK.

Then we met the jovial Todd, 38, and Joe, 23. Both work for Phocas.net, a local Web site that covers nightlife.

"Wait, so are we rivals? Should I not interview you?" asked the NR.

"No, we cover more underground and raves," Todd said.

"So what's the weirdest thing you've seen out in the rave scene?" we asked.

"One venue found used condoms in the couches," Joe said. "But it's truly taboo to find something weird in the rave scene."

"Why?" we queried.

"Because everything is weird," Todd replied.

"You see a wide range of age groups, from 14-, 15-year-olds to 50 -- old drunk people," Joe added.

We then read them Research Assistant Kevin's quote, which was inspired by the young crowd: "'When I was in college, I always went for the freshman girls, who had yet to be tainted by alcohol and cock.' Do you agree or disagree?" we asked.

They laughed. "I think so," Todd said. "But I've been married for 19 years, so I'm out of the loop. But it's probably true."

"Everyone I know is tainted," Joe said. "If I meet someone who isn't tainted here, I'd be blown away, since society is so sexual now.... But I treasure that -- that's a good thing. I'm from a small town in Texas, where people waited until they were married. It'd be good to find a girl who hasn't been so tainted. I've tainted a few myself ... well, I didn't really taint them, but I showed them the way, the beaten path. It'd be nice to find someone pure."

"So you'd want to marry a virgin?" we asked.

"He wants to marry a nun," Todd joked.

"No, I don't," Joe said. "I don't think I could contain myself until marriage."

Joe, buddy, we didn't think we could contain ourselves for 12 days overseas, but stranger things have happened, we guess.

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