Last night was a big night — but it wasn't until this morning that I realised just how big. As far as I can remember, all that happened was that Stef and I returned home at around 3am, that I crashed straight into bed (I remember tucking in), and that the adventures ended then and there. My memory is that I slept solidly for the rest of the night, and that I woke up at around 11am, groggy yet otherwise fine. But apparently, there was an additional epilogue to the annals of the night, and one of which I have no memory whatsoever. It seems that for the second time on this trip (and in my life), alcohol has left a gaping gap in my memory. I experienced a Belgian beer blackout.
So I walk downstairs this morning, and stumble into the kitchen to grab some breakfast. Annick is there, looking amiable but a little annoyed, and she says to me: "did you sleep well last night?"
"Yep", I replied. "Like the dead, all night long."
"I would let you check your e-mail before you leave", she continued, "but the computer's broken."
"Broken?" I enquired. "What happened to it?"
"The mouse is wrecked", she replied. "We can't plug it back in."
"Huh? What happened to the mouse?" I asked.
"You broke it!" she exclaimed. "Last night, at about 5am — and then again at 5:30 and 6am — I got woken up by a noise, and I rose to see what was happening. I went into the study, and I found you fiddling with the computer, and you broke the mouse."
"I... I did?"
At first, I thought that Annick and Stef were joking; but they were quite serious. And when I went up to the study to have a look, I found that the PC's mouse was indeed broken. It was sitting on the desk, and all the little pins in the PS/2 connection were bent askew (one had even snapped off). Clearly, someone (i.e. "me") had pulled the mouse out of its port, and had tried to shove it back in (at 6am, in the dark, while blind drunk) — and had succeeded only in damaging the delicate little thing that is a PS/2 socket. Upon quick examination, it was obvious to me that the connection was damaged beyond repair.
I found it hard to believe that I'd done this: but Annick assured me that she'd personally witnessed me in the act, in the wee hours of the morning; and the broken mouse itself was pretty clear proof as to what had happened. I really have no memory of this at all: had they not recounted the story to me, I would never have even realised what I'd done. I must have been drunk waaay past my limit, to have performed this act of incompetent sabotage: I've been working with computers my entire life, I've plugged in more mice than you can shake a stick at, and I'm well aware of how delicate and finicky the PS/2 connector is; attempting to shove the connector into its port in the dark is something I'd never do under normal circumstances.
After breakfast, I quickly packed up my stuff, said goodbye to Annick and Karlijn, and hurried off with Stef to the train station. Stef farewelled me off, and I just managed to jump on the 12 o'clock train, in time to chug out of Turnhout. Before I boarded, I gave Stef a bit of money to buy a new mouse: it was the least I could do, considering it was my fault.
I felt so bad about this incident. It was a terrible way to end my lovely weekend with Annick and Stef, who have been so kind and so hospitable to me over the past two days. They're the last people in the world I'd like to inconvenience, and also the last in the world that I'd choose to part with on sour terms. The worst thing is that it's not their computer, and it's not their house: they went out of their way to accommodate me in their brother-in-law's house, and they trusted me around his possessions; and unwittingly, without even a memory of it, I abused that trust. Anyway, it could have been worse: at least a mouse is cheaply and easily replaceable; considering that I was fumbling around with a computer in the dark, I could have done much worse damage. And in retrospect, considering how wasted I clearly was, I could have done any manner of worse and more regrettable things. Fortunately, they've forgiven me for the little mishap, and I'm sure we'll still be friends for many long years to come.