The “Ginger Effect”: Steph’s Perspective

True to the definition, Steph had a very different perspective of the night we named the “Ginger Effect.” It feels only fair to post her version, if only to provide another example. 

In the 1958 musical film Gigi, an older man and woman, Honoré Lachaille and Madame Alvarez, reminisce about their youth, including their brief romance. In the song “I remember it well” they compare details of their first date, and it becomes immediately apparent that while they both remember it happening, and both share the same emotional connection to the evening, the details they recall are vastly different. The song opens:

H: We met at 9

M: We met at 8

H: I was on time

M: No, you were late

H: As yes, I remember it well

This song is fairly representative to me, of the Ginger Effect, through which Aheli and I are both aware of the same experience, but may have slightly different interpretations of the details. Of course, at least in the scenario in Gigi, one of the pair remembers accurately, whereas it generally happens that both Aheli and I are wrong, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. We once went to a dance workshop, and up until we met at the train station Aheli was convinced we were going to Aberdeen and I was fairly certain we were headed to Glasgow. Our long suffering travel companion gently informed us that we would in fact be going to Dundee. Well, at least we both knew we were taking a train to a dance workshop.

Aheli has already written on how the Ginger Effect got its name, but it seems that in fairness to this baffling phenomenon I should weigh in with my own version, with the assumption that if you look hard enough, the true story will emerge. I wouldn’t count on it though; we’ve never managed to find it. But really, that’s part of the fun.

The Ginger Effect was born in mid-February. Casey was coming to visit and so she and Adam were hosting a wine and cheese party to gather everyone. This was especially welcome relief to us poor MSc students who were facing the realization that classes ended in March meaning that essays were beginning to loom rather ominously. But it was a special occasion so we pushed those dark thoughts of education from our minds, put on our party shoes, and went to enjoy the evening.

As the food disappeared, the even began to wind down and the company split into two distinct groups: those who were happy to go to bed with a cheese induced food coma, and those who weren’t quite ready to call it a night, but would perhaps prefer to dance off the cheese before collapsing. The crowds were split, Aheli and I were stood in the middle, asked what our plans were, and we made a fatal error: we hesitated. In the moment of hesitation we were swept up by the dancing group, into our coats, out the door, and down to Dropkick Murphy’s, a place known for its live music and rowdy but friendly clientele.

Finding ourselves ‘danced out’, Aheli and I quietly moved towards the door, waiting until we were beyond reach before calling out our goodbyes. We pushed through the crowds, ducking, weaving, and channeling our inner rugby players and finally we reached the door. We stepped outside…and then, we hesitated. Fatal. Error.

Dropkick Murphy’s is midway between the raised streets of the campus area, and the sunken Cowgate and its entrance is under an arch that is part of the bridge holding up the city above. During our short hesitation, two young gentlemen emerged from the shadows and began to talk to us. Aheli and I shared looks of confusion, but were too caught off guard to consider that perhaps we should continue moving. The men were from Ireland, over for the weekend and not really sure what to do or where to go, but wanted the full Edinburgh experience (if you overlook the fact that Dropkick’s is in fact an Irish bar). We chatted for a few minutes before realizing just how cold Edinburgh is in February, and we started moving towards the main street.

Somehow, the men managed to flag two pedicabs down and ask them where the best place to go next would be. Next?

And then we were swept up again (the joys of being small) and were in separate pedicabs headed deeper into the Cowgate. And while I was slightly concerned by this divide and conquer maneuver, I was also fairly overexcited that I got to yell “Follow that pedicab!” while pointing dramatically. I’m sure the driver loved me. But whether he did or not, he did ‘follow that pedicab’ and we all piled out at the same place. Unfortunately that place was a rather sketchy club. We walked in, and very shortly after, walked out with the boys trailing behind us.

We said goodbye, assured them that we would be able to get home on our own, and gracefully removed ourselves from the situation. Only to find that the situation would not be so easily removed. The boys followed. Really, we insisted, it was not a long walk and we didn’t want them to have to cut their night short, and anyway we were walking in the exact opposite direction they needed to be going. The boys followed. We told them all the places that they might go after we had left, and pointed them in the right direction, and gave suggestions for things they could do the following day. The boys followed. Finally we gave up and anyway we were close to home at that point so there was no point in wasting energy on this.

Luckily we had a rather imposing looking building with a large impressive gate at the front. As the men looked upwards, taking it all in, we slipped through the gate, shut it with a rather satisfying ‘clang’ and called out goodnight as we scurried to our door, finally leaving them as confused as they had found us.

Inside, we kicked off our shoes and recapped the evening. Differentiating the boys, I mentioned something about the blond one. “Blond?” Aheli repeated. “His hair was dark brown.” We both took a moment to consider this large discrepancy. Finally we decided that if I thought he was blonde, and Aheli thought he was a brunette, there must be only one reasonable conclusion.

“His hair must have been the midpoint between blonde and brunette,” Aheli said.

“But what colour would that be?” I asked.

 We both paused again, thinking, and finally realization dawned simultaneously as we both said, “Ginger.”

And so the Ginger Effect was created.

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