There is so much to this story… So much.
There was the alarm, of course (hence the title).
There was the fact that it was New Year’s Eve.
There was the fact that we had been consuming alcoholic beverages for most of the afternoon and evening.
There was the fact that we were backstage at the O2 arena in London, En-GLAND.
And, oh yeah… Elton John was there. You know… the English singer, songwriter, composer, pianist, producer, philanthropist, and Knight… Yeah, that guy.
In December 2009, my husband and I went to En-GLAND to visit my long-time friend (let’s call her Erin. because that’s her name). Erin lives in a sweet, little village in Suffolk with her En-GLISH husband and their small child.
(I should note: Erin spoils us. She is a fantastic cook, she likes to have fun, she is an easy laugh*, and she has been known to put a mini fridge full of cocktails in the guest bedroom… In other words, she is the perfect host.)
(I should also note: This all took place before we lived in En-GLAND for three years so we didn’t know how things worked… ie. healthcare, TV licenses, and toilets…)
Because Erin is a wonderful, thoughtful human being, and because her husband happens to work at the O2, she went ahead and got us tickets for Elton John’s New Year’s Eve concert. We were so excited. I mean, who doesn’t like Elton John?!?! (Answer: homophobes.)
The day of the concert arrived, and because there was a mini fridge full of cocktails in our room, and because it was New Year’s Eve, and because you only live once… We were celebrating.
Erin’s husband was the designated driver, and we (me, my husband, and Erin) were the designated drinkers.
It takes about an hour and a half to get from Erin’s house to the O2, and because it’s legal for passengers to drink alcohol whilst travelling in a motor vehicle (as far as I know… please don’t quote me on that), we arrived to the O2 feeling slightly tipsy and in desperate need of a toilet. Erin’s husband parked in the employee parking lot and ushered us to the nearest washroom.
This is where it gets interesting (sorry for all the boring bits leading up to this).
My dear husband went to use the restroom first.
Erin and I were waiting patiently (even though our bladders were about to burst), when suddenly an alarm went off… Security lights started flashing and a siren blasted through the corridors. I banged on the door, yelling to my husband that we needed to vacate the premises.
As my husband exited the bathroom, a security guard rushed over and asked if everything was okay. My husband shrugged and said, “yeah.”
The security guard said that the alarm was pulled inside the restroom…
So, yeah… my husband mistakenly pulled the emergency pull cord instead of flushing the toilet, and now an alarm was going off throughout the O2 arena.
…Right as Elton John was about to take the stage for his New Year’s Eve concert.
(In my husband’s defence, there are a lot of different ways to flush a toilet in En-GLAND, and many toilets do have a pull cord or a chain or a string, and it can get very confusing.)
I imagine Elton John was backstage singing, “Hold me closer, Tony Danza”, when the alarm went off… His handlers rushed in and escorted him outside to safety… Elton shivered in the cold, damp British winter for several minutes before security said he could return inside… But by then, Elton was angry and demanded to know who was responsible…. And, after checking the CCTV footage, Elton vowed his revenge upon us…**
The security guard quickly deactivated the alarm and (after my husband made his apologies and we all had hearty laugh about the differences in plumbing in Canada and En-GLAND), the show went on… Elton was spectacular.
And I think we all learned a lesson that day***.
* My favorite kind of people.
** We’re still waiting for Elton’s revenge.
*** Although, to be honest – I’m not sure what.