This past summer, I made the somewhat stressful decision to move to a different country and go back to school. Luckily, I had my friends and family to support my decision. And nobody, and I mean nobody, was more excited about my pending move to Scotland than the ladies of FYA. I quickly surmised that this was less because they thought it would be good for me, professionally or personally, and more because they wanted to live vicariously through me.
“ALIX CONGRATULATIONS HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!! You're going to marry a prince! That's what happens there!” declared Erin.
To be fair, my moving to Scotland DOES sound like a great premise for a YA novel.
Ways in which my life is like a YA novel:
*I recently moved to a European country to go to school
*Lack of parental oversight
HOWEVER: ways in which my life is not like a YA novel:
*I do not live in a castle
*I am not, nor have I ever been, a witch (dammit!)
*Actually, a lot of people here are also American...
*Grad school is significantly less fun than fictional boarding school
*I do not know any princes
*I have not fallen through a wormhole and ended up in Regency England
*The Zombie Apocalypse is not nigh
*To my knowledge, I do not have any vampire stalkers
*I am an A who is Y, not a YA
Anyway, I promised Posh I’d write some “Scottish posts” for FYA (whatever that means) so here I am to tell you about my less-than-interesting life.
A couple weeks ago, I celebrated a school tradition known as “Raisin Weekend.” During Raisin, freshers (that is, freshman and, if they feel so inclined, first year postgraduates) are adopted by “academic parents” -- generally two or more older students. Historically, academic parents would entertain their children over Raisin Weekend, and in return, children would gift a pound of raisins (quite the luxury, back in the day) to their parents. Academic fathers would write a receipt for the raisins in latin, which would then be compared by students on the academic quad.
Fast forward several centuries--what happens now, generally, is that parents haze the shit out of their children, dressing them up in costume, making them drink way too much, and forcing them to do generally unpleasant things. In return, the raisins have been traded up for booze. The receipt is still in latin but is generally written on something as cumbersome and awkward as possible, for maximum hilarity. Things like a boat, an old piano, or a throne on which to carry your academic father. Children must then carry the receipt to the quad, at which point all the first years engage in a giant foam fight.
Now, before I tell you what actually happened during my Raisin, I could never deprive my comrades the joy of speculating on what happened, were my life to play out as the YA novel everyone seems to think it should be. So here is Jenny to tell you what should have happened during Raisin.
The Adventures of Tartan: Clan of Green Gables by Jenny
Alix climbed the stairs to the student union slowly, putting off meeting her "parents" for the upcoming Raisin Weekend as long as possible. She'd heard enough tales of ridiculous costumes and drunken hazing to curl her hair. Couldn't she just give them a pound of raisins and be done with it? But there was only so long she could delay, so with her shoulders squared, she walked into the room to meet her possible doom.
Clapping his hands together in maniacal glee she'd come to associate with danger, Father Dan looked between Alix and her Sister Elizabeth, while their Mother Ashley took another swig out of the bottle of malbec she'd been carrying around since 8. In the morning. The past 24 hours were a blur of alcohol mixed with exercise -- two things Alix believed with all her heart did NOT go together. There had been a relay race, with shots taken at each end, hopscotch, with shots taken throughout, and jump rope. Yes. Shots and jump rope. It was amazing that any of them were standing.
"Alright, kids. The most important part of this last event is not to have fun, or even to remain standing. The most important thing today is to beat the Gordon family." Dan had a friendly rivalry with James Gordon, another Raisin Weekend father, that they carried over to their children. Of course James Gordon's son would have to be Aengus Duncan, whose dark hair, green eyes, and devilish smile tended to make Alix's insides do funny things. And Aengus Duncan knew it. The cocky bastard.
Which ultimately meant one thing: the rivalry didn't stop with their parents. So far, Alix had only been beaten by Aengus in the relay race. She'd trumped him in hopscotch AND jumping rope. But they had one final event before she could collect her dignity and go back to her flat. And that event, unfortunately, was "Feed the Baby", another relay in which each child of each parent had to run the length of the park to a waiting parent, and be fed -- through a baby bottle -- a pint of beer as fast as possible. They would then each have to run back to the start -- the first family to finish, claiming the win.
Alix adjusted the magic carpet she had fastened around her waist, lining up behind Sister Elizabeth. Their parents, at least, had chosen a theme for their costumes, and allowed Alix and Elizabeth to make their own -- Alix was dressed as Modest Jasmine, and Elizabeth in a zip-up tiger suit. They could move and stay warm, which was more than she could say for a lot of the families. Alix steadied her breathing and looked across the park, where her Mother sat waiting. The pressure was on, as she would be anchoring the race.
A familiar voice spoke on her right. "Jasmine, eh? Sexy." Alix swallowed the butterflies. Pretty compliments would not turn her head today.
"Actually she's Modest Jasmine." Elizabeth spoke in response.
"Exactly. As I said… sexy."
Alix hazarded an annoyed glance in Aengus's general direction, and was met with a wink.
And they were off! Elizabeth surprised Alix with her chugging ability, and was back exceedingly quickly. Then it was Alix's turn. She ran to her mother, sat in her lap, and began chugging the warm beer from the bottle. This was not going to end well, whether or not they won.
As son as she finished, Alix took an unsteady step, followed by another until she was running again, a cheering tiger at the other side of the park her only focus, until she made it, and she and Elizabeth collapsed in a sisterly hug, delirious and drunk. "Did we win?" Alix panted, when she could speak. "No! But we beat the Gordons!" Which was all that mattered, really. Turns out, Aengus's sister had a bit of trouble, and he couldn't make up the time, even with all of the surprise muscles that were in his evidence, due to his ridiculous droog costume.
Later, but no more sober, Alix and Elizabeth labored to pull their parents out to the park in their receipt: an old handsome cab, kept in the university's stables. As they got closer to the park, Alix heard someone call. "Oi!"
She looked up to see Aengus approaching, and couldn't help the small smile that crept over her face. Aengus helped them get the cab to the park with the other receipts, and she offered him a quick "Thanks" over her shoulder as she joined her friends.
Alix didn't see much of Aengus for the rest of the night, as she danced and celebrated with the rest of the families in the foam. Until she felt a gentle hand on her arm, and turned to face him. He looked down at her, his self-assuredness seemingly faltering, and said, "Hey."
"Hey." She responded.
"I've been trying to get your attention all weekend."
"Have you?" She asked, coolly. He nodded.
And as the foam rose around them, Aengus Duncan leaned down, gently brushing his lips against hers.
And THAT is when the whole weekend caught up to her, and our dear heroine threw up.
TO BE CONTINUED…
The Real Deal by Alix
Wow, Jenny. Wow. First of all, I’m glad YOU aren’t my academic mum, because FEED THE BABY?! You are one twisted motherfucker. That is seriously disturbing. My parents were MUCH nicer than that. For starters, I managed to stay sober all day! I’m not actually sure how I achieved this, but I am nonetheless pleased with the outcome.
Second, there are some truth nuggets amongst this... "creative interpretation" of my life. I DID dress up a Modest Jasmine, but for Halloween, not Raisin.
Modest Jasmine with her friend/half sister/pet tiger (who is not named Elizabeth)
And we DID have family competitions, but I was competing against my half-siblings, because our family tree looks like VC Andrews drew it. Events included: family scavenger hunt, pass the parcel, and a game of Ring of Fire where we had to speak like whales. We also had to take shots if we wanted to use the bathroom and bob for different objects in a variety of food-items. The worst was when we had to pull a pacifier out of vegan, vodka-flavored jello. I don’t do jello, y’all. Especially not vodka-flavored jello. It was horrifying. Two other members of my family managed to eat all of theirs because they are CHAMPIONS, which scored our team 100 extra points.
Jello and Breast: two words that should never be juxtaposed
My moment of glory came later in the evening, when we had to somehow defrost and put on shirts that had been frozen in ice. I trounced every one of my sisters, albeit mostly through luck. 100 points to me! We also tied for “best original family rap,” the video of which you shall never, ever see. In it, I rapped about statistical analysis and rhymed “raisin” with “brazen.”
Unfortunately, my half of the family lost almost every other competition, and as a result, the title for best half of the family. C’est la vie. We won in that our academic parents are lovely, wonderful people who didn’t make us do anything too horrible and always made sure we were having fun. Some of the other families we ran into were clearly not having very positive experiences. Luckily, it didn't seem likely that they would remember much the next day, either.
Plus, our costumes for Raisin Monday were AMAZING. Our mummies and daddy dressed us up as bags of jelly beans, and our receipts were three bunches of balloon grapes and a very accurate cardboard Tardis. Much, much better than some other families, including the family in front of us who had been rolled in bubble wrap and then duct taped to a small greenhouse.
Family of Jelly Babies
As for Aengus Duncan, he doesn’t exist! Sorry to rain on your parade, y’all, but I did not commit academic incest, nor is there a cheeky Scottish man with a crooked smile on my radar. My life will never be as exciting as the fictionalized version of it. But the part where I throw up on his hypothetical face? Totally plausible.
Mothers, daughters, and one estranged son who snuck into the back of the picture.