Glasgow Made Me Well – (Scotland Redux: Part 2)

Glasgow is a real city. Edinburgh is beautiful, but it looks kinda like a movie set built by elves. Glasgow is a place you could actually imagine living.

Remember the deadly salad I mentioned yesterday…

I started off that morning feeling a bit queasy. But hey, I only had one day in Glasgow and there was no way I was gonna miss hanging with Badsville Broad Donna Moore.

On the train ride to Glasgow, I started feeling seriously green around the gills. Awful, painful stomach cramps and more intense nausea. Hard bitch that I am, I was still determined to tough it out no matter what.

Donna met us at the Queens Street Station and it was easy to forget my dodgy belly for a while. We rode a double decker bus all around the city and instead of plugging into the canned audio tour, I had way more fun listening to Donna’s running commentary. “Here’s where I was half-mugged!” “Here’s where I threw a suitcase at my cheating boyfriend!”

We jumped off the bus at the Necropolis, an enormous, gorgeous cemetery on a hill overlooking the city. After a brief, fearful peek into a public toilet that had to be the second worst in Scotland, my ever increasing nausea demanded that I find a clean, private  place to toss my cookies ASA fucking P. I’m sure thousands of Glaswegians have puked in the street before I got there, and will probably continue to do so now that I’m gone, but I’ve lived my entire adult life so far without throwing up in public and have no plans to start. Many people (heavy drinkers, most of them) seem quite cavalier about that sort of thing. Not me.

So, after evicting a goodly portion of the demon salad in a clean, inoffensive bathroom beneath the church gift shop, I felt a little less dire. We tromped around the Necropolis for a while, peering into mausoleums and snapping photos in the fading orange twilight. It was really beautiful, but before long, the nausea started creeping up on me again. I could no longer deny that I needed a visit to the chemist. Just some good old Pepto Bismol or the UK equivalent, and I’d be right as rain. Right?

So, off to Boots in the train station. One of the many amusing difference between Europe and the old US of A is that you can’t just walk into to a pharmacy and buy Pepto Bismol. You need to consult with a pharmacist.

After a bit of comedy in which I endeavor to explain my situation to a handsome Sikh pharmacist with a strong Glaswegian accent, I was finally able to make him understand that I had food poisoning but only seem to be having problems in the upper half of my digestive tract, not the lower. He gave my symptoms a moment of sage-like reflection and then handed over the Pepto.

The kindly gal behind the counter gave me a handful of plastic bags to keep in my purse just in case and tut-tutted over the fact that it was rival city Edinburgh that served me the demon salad.

“Just remember,” she said as she rang me up. “Edinburgh made you sick, but Glasgow made you well!”

Unfortunately, I wasn’t well just yet.

We were planning to find a place where we could sit for a while so I could take the newly purchased Pepto and maybe sip a ginger-ale or something equally soothing. But on the way out of the train station, I realized I wasn’t going to make it to the next bathroom without embarrassing myself. So, there I was, faced with a choice between the scary public toilet or the street. It’s bad enough sitting on a train station toilet. Sticking your head in there is infinitely more horrifying. But in the end, my need for privacy overruled my fear and loathing. Really, it was no choice at all.

Of course, you need a coin to get in. Being American, I couldn’t make heads or tails out of the various pence in my pocketbook but Donna rescued me by pressing the right coin into my sweaty hand. I paid, pushed my way through the turnstile and made a run for it.

Whereupon I discovered that the Gents is right dead ahead, but the Ladies, for some inexplicable and cruel reason, is located up 400 flights of stairs. There were fewer steps inside the Wallace Monument than in that fucking toilet. Miraculously, I made it. Barely.

From there on out, my visit to Glasgow became infinitely less dramatic and much more fun. I got the damn Pepto down and even though I really wasn’t able to eat much of anything for the rest of the night, my stomach finally calmed the fuck down. It was great to meet and hang with Kieran G. and Donna’s boyfriend Ewan (not the guy who had a suitcase thrown at him!) I only wish I’d had more time. There’s plenty I more want to do in Glasgow, like hit Rebound and check out more restaurants when I can actually appreciate them.

Clearly, I need to go back.

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