Preparing for Tomfoolery: A Lesson in Humility

20 12 2010

I was once asked how much preparation comedians do before a gig. I think it ranges from either winging it on stage with some ideas or planning a gig like a terrorist cell plans a suicide bombing. As much as I would love to be a comedian who prepares for gigs without breaking into a sweat and ad-libs his way around the stage in a hilarious manner I am most definitely a member of the ‘extreme preparation group’. I approached my first gig with the intensity of a tax accountant with obsessive compulsive disorder. I still do, to a point. I prepare by writing, then editing, then writing, then throwing it away, then editing, then writing and then rehearsing and then finally doing it on stage and getting no laughs and resorting to dick jokes in order to get laughs. I don’t do as much preparation as I used to but I am still really organised before a gig. There is a reason for that. The first time I ever completely humiliated myself in public was because of a lack of preparation. I’m not talking about my first stand up comedy gig which was a lot of fun and possibly one of the best experiences of my life. No, we are going way back to 1985 when I was 12.

My Dad had been transferred to the USA in 1984. I went from living in a small town of about 4,000 people in Central Qld to living in a larger town of 40,000 people in the Four Corners region of New Mexico.  We moved to Farmington which was a dirty, malevolent town on the edge of the desert at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It was a tired town filled with glum people and I loved it. Coming from Australia, everything seemed new to me. A shopping mall with more than six shops! Yes please! An ice-cream store with thirty-one flavours? What the hell? Is this heaven? I went to school at the local educational facility called Ladera Del Norte Elementary School and I loved it because I was the token interest for a few months. Kids and teachers alike would come up to me at lunch, demand that I say something in my ‘funny’ accent and then walk away laughing. I was popular but not as popular as Brad Smith who used to wear break dancing leathers to class and would dazzle the girls with his popping and locking during recess and the lunch break. I wanted to be like Brad. Badly. I pressured my mother into buying me a black vinyl jacket (with epaulettes) which I wore with pride. Then, I asked nicely for some matching black pants. They were parachute pants and had a zip that ran along the side which would open revealing a red vinyl interior and seven kinds of awesome. I wanted to wear both the jacket and pants to school as some form of wicked-sick ensemble but Mum never let me. Secretly she knew how tragic I looked with my spiked up hair and faux-angry B-boy demeanour so she’d always make me wear the items separately. I obliged but every night I would tear the basement down with my backspins and my version of the helicopter which only went halfway round and usually resulted in me smashing my groin into the concrete. Yes, I was truly bad-ass. I waited patiently for the moment I could shine. In my shiny black pants.

Where it all started

During the year, they introduced a Medieval theme in history class and we were told that if we participated in the class sufficiently and also completed numerous lengthy homework tasks we could ‘rank’ up in our class’s medieval society. You didn’t have to get really involved but your social status in the class would be based on how much work you did. People who did the least amount of work became serfs and peasants and those who excelled in the class became knights, barons and even kings. At the end of the semester we would have a Royal Feast and the serfs would serve the higher members of society. This whole approach appealed to me but I was dead focussed on becoming a professional break-dancer so my sole contribution to the medieval theme was building a castle made of Lego. This castle was manned by numerous Lego figurines, one of which always wore black. Shiny black. Sometimes he’d break-dance. I was very imaginative with my Lego. I probably should have focussed a bit more energy into the other aspects of the class such as listing all known diseases of the medieval period and/or creating an interactive collage that acted as a timeline of various medieval events which is what the kids who became royalty did. My stupendous feat of constructing a castle made of Lego granted me the right to become a serf. Yes, I was to serve the other kids during the feast. I wasn’t happy but I had myself to blame.

Able to slay dragons, resuce maidens and do the worm.

Luckily for me I saw a way out. A call was put out for willing volunteers to come forward and act as court jesters. Now this was something I could do. I was Australian so all I needed to do was say a few phrases in my Ocker accent and the crowd would be rolling around with tears streaming from their eyes. I was all set. I even had my outfit. It was black and shiny. Upon seeing a glimpse of the extent the other jesters were going to I also decided to learn how to juggle. I couldn’t, for the life of me, juggle three balls so I persisted with two until I was happy with my technique. The day approached quickly and I felt the nerves that I now associate with the creeping terror of not knowing what you have prepared will be enough. It didn’t matter. I was confident. I was Australian. I was going to wear the shiny black jacket and the shiny black pants. Together at last.

We were corralled into the main hall at school. There were students, teachers and quite a few parents and everyone was dressed up in period costume. I was wearing my decidedly non-Medieval outfit and people kept asking me if I was a break dancer and what did I have planned. I winked and said “just you wait and see!” We started off the feast with some warm, spiced apple juice which was supposed to be mead. As a serf I had to serve everyone and I ended up getting some of it on my arms and after 20 minutes my shiny jacket was shiny with added stickiness. We ate some chicken and some poems were read. It was now time for the jesters! The first jester came out. I was a little shocked because she was dressed in complete jester costume including bells on her hat and the ends of her shoes. She told knock-knock jokes that had been twisted to include medieval references. The parents, teachers and the assembled royalty laughed heartily and nodded their approval.

The next jester came out and he was dressed the same. He told jokes and then juggled some balls. Three balls to be exact. I sat there, cradling my two tennis balls in each hand, and watched in horror as this entertainer juggled his way across the floor and then proceeded to do some magic. He made coins disappear and pulled handkerchiefs out of his puffy sleeves. The crowd roared at his antics. It dawned on me then that I wasn’t prepared. It also dawned on me right then and there that I would be making a fool out of myself. I was shaking in terror.

My name was called out and I bounced up like a prized fighter. I smiled and strode out to the middle of the hall. There was not one sound. I remember hearing nothing but silence. I bowed to the king and queen and unzipped the side panel on my pants to reveal the awesome inside. I then cleared my throat as if I was about to launch into some jokes and but instead held out my tennis balls. I didn’t say a word. I just started juggling. Well, juggling isn’t the right word to use and it would be a slight on the terrific and dextrous work that jugglers do. I basically threw one ball into the air and caught it with my other hand. Then I’d repeat this process. It wasn’t so much juggling as it was passing a ball from hand to hand. It went well for about five tosses but then I lost all my coordination. I couldn’t catch one ball. I passed it off as a part of the act but it soon became apparent that not only could I not juggle two balls but I could barely hold onto one. I then reached into my shallow bag of tricks and pulled out my ender. I started falling over, repeatedly.

To this day I have no reason why I did it. I think I tried to do some break-dancing and had decided to intersperse my routine with a few ‘Three Stooges’ impressions. I have always been a fan of slapstick comedy but it is a big leap of faith to call what I did slapstick when in reality it more closely resembled a crazed junkie with cerebral palsy trying to dance the ‘Bustop’ in a tub full of lubricant. I look back and remember that people laughed and laughed hard. I also remembered when they stopped laughing about thirty seconds later and started to look at each other nervously as they waited for this rather dusty looking break dancing fool to stop falling on the ground. The stifling silence was the worst part of the whole ordeal. There was no music and no one was making a sound. I am certain you could have heard a pin drop if my grunts of exertion and the slapping noise my limbs made as they came into contact with the linoleum covered floor hadn’t been so loud.

It was at about the two minute mark of my routine when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a teacher making a move to try and stop me. I don’t know how she would have done that because I was in the zone. At that stage of my performance I was a spiced-apple smelling whirling dervish of sweaty embarrassment and anyone within 6 feet of me would have probably copped a vinyl clad leg in the face for their troubles. Luckily for Ms Odiorne, I moved onto my spectacular finale. I launched into my fabled helicopter move. This was the one that I had tried countless times in my basement without success. I could never complete it but I knew, having watched plenty of B-Grade movies, that everything usually falls into place for the cute yet misunderstood teen in these situations. With this knowledge I focussed my energy and did the helicopter. I vaguely remember hoping to hear the sound of the sharp intake of breath from a hundred people mixed with a few amazing hushed whispers of “oh my god, he’s going to do it!”

In reality what I heard was an “Ooooof!” as I slammed my groin into the ground with such force that the auditorium shook and some cups of spiced apple juice fell off a nearby table. I lay face down on the dusty linoleum, in extreme pain, and all I could hear was the pounding of my heart and the creepy sniggering of Brad Smith in the corner. Then the applause came. It started out as a smattering but then built to a thunderous roar as one hundred people took pity on that weird Australian boy who couldn’t catch a tennis ball and kept falling over. To this day I think most of the assembled parents thought I was the token ‘special kid’ in the class. I hobbled out of the auditorium safe in the knowledge that I’ll never be a professional break dancer. I copped a little flack from my fellow classmates but generally they respected that at least I attempted something. The only positive coming out of the whole incident was that I got out of cleaning up the auditorium with all the other serfs because I spent the next two hours with the school nurse who applied ice packs to my various bruises.

I learned a lot from that experience. I learned to prepare and to be ready for the unexpected and that break dancing is best left to the experts.  I also learned how to juggle three balls and tell knock-knock jokes at the same time. Stardom, here I come.


Tom Cruise Lied to Me: A story about drunken debauchery and artistic sculptures

16 08 2010

We’ve all worked in horrible jobs. Some jobs we make us depressed and some jobs make us completely turn into utter nutjobs. Some smart cookie once said:

“It isn’t work if you enjoy what you are doing”

This is a very astute statement from an intelligent but most likely unemployed person who has probably never worked in a job that has kept him or her above the poverty line. I have worked in a variety of jobs from sifting through rock samples as a geological assistant to manning the store and herding stoners out the door during the late night shift at a 7-11. The majority of these jobs felt like work but only one of them actually slotted into the statement above. I speak of my time working in an inner-city hotel/nightclub. I shall not mention this place by name but those who worked there and who frequented it’s sticky carpeted floors will know exactly which venue it is. It was the home of “The Bucket of Booze”.

I had moved up to Brisbane from Melbourne and needed a job quickly. I had always dreamed of working in a nightclub ever since I saw that midget Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail throw bottles of booze around with scant regard for health and safety laws. I wanted to be this guy except without the strained weird laugh and the leanings towards crazy cults that take all your money under the guise of religion. I applied for several jobs and was knocked back for every single one even though I had lied out of my arse on my resume. I hadn’t actually worked in hospitality but figured it wasn’t that hard to carry a tray of drinks so I peppered my resume with a summary of numerous nightclubs in Melbourne where I had plied my trade. This didn’t work. Experience didn’t count one bit. The guys hiring wanted boobs. I heard “Nah mate. We are only hiring chicks, eh” on numerous occasions. Not perturbed, I walked the streets asking for a job and I finally got one.

I walked into this somewhat seedy hotel in Paddington and asked to speak to the manager. A pony-tailed man not much older than I am greeted me with a smile and said “That’s me!” I asked straight up for a job and told him about my ‘awesome experience’. He was suitably impressed and said he’d give me a trial. I was overjoyed. I would work my butt off, impress him and the other staff and become Tom Cruise. This was going to be awesome. I was going to be a drink pouring superstar working in a flash night club. Knee deep in sexy ladies within a week. I was quite wrong.

On my first night I saw a drunk lady smash a pool cue over a guys head and then try and stab him with the shards. The second night I worked there I had a vomit-speckled man hurl abuse and spit at me for ‘looking at him funny.’ These things didn’t happen in Cocktail. Tom Cruise had let me down again! First Risky Business (dancing in your underwear isn’t a good look for everyone) and now this. Going to work in this hotel was literally like walking onto the set of a Brazilian porno movie with a decidedly violent theme, and I loved every minute of it.

The best feature of this hotel was the marketing strategy that was used to bring the masses in. It was a great strategy and was ultimately one of the reason for the tighter alcohol laws that were brought into Qld in the mid-90’s. We sold buckets of booze. Like, a bucket…with booze in it. We had hundreds of those 1L white paint buckets and for three bucks you could get six shots of your favourite basic spirit plus a mixer. $3 for a bucket of sin. You could spend less than $10 and be as blind as Ray Charles. Like dribbling drunk. Some fallout occurred after a string of nasty incidents at other venues (not ours, of course) and we agreed to change our price structure. A bucket was now $6. We copped some flak from the drunken popped collar hordes and the slutty skanks but it was still a bargain. A better bargain if you were one of my friends as I’d put about nine shots in there and just wave a bottle of coke over the top. By midnight things got a bit messy. People would be rutting like dogs on the dance floor, glassies would be getting furtive blowjobs from drunken single mothers in the parking lot and a certain bartender would be slamming down shots with the aforementioned pony-tailed manager in the office. Crazy times. I used to love going to work. That was until the ‘Phantom Shitter’ started plying his trade.

Yeah. The Phantom Shitter. That was our name for this faecal terrorist.

One Saturday night we were in full swing and the glassy came running over and said “Some dude has clogged the toilet!” Now as any hospitality worked will know, cleaning the toilets is a horrible yet necessary task. It also has to be done several times during the night. The ladies toilets are the worst. You see, men just piss everywhere and you can hose that stuff right off. Women go a little bit feral. Sometimes you’d walk in there and the scene that confronted you would be so shocking that you would be frozen to the spot in abject terror. Toilet paper everywhere. Used tampons flung against the wall. Vomit and smeared shit all over the cubicles. Just feral crazy oestrogen charged antics, really. So a clogged toilet in the men’s was nothing in comparison. I walked in there and was traumatised with what I saw.

Someone had clogged up the toilet with paper. Then smashed a pot glass in there. And then did a big poo in another pot glass and left it balanced on top. Then they had pressed the flush button resulting in a revolting brown and grey malicious soup. This was nasty. This was also the work of a creative genius. I dare say in some circles, people might call it an artistic installation. I called it a disease trap mainly because of the broken glass which just screamed hepatitis if you got cut. We got thick gloves on and a spare bin and cleaned that up. Well, I didn’t. I supervised and pointed a lot. I wasn’t going to get elbow deep in poo for $13 an hour. No way. We thought that was the end of it though…until next Saturday night.

Sure enough, the shitter struck again. Same motive, same style. The weird thing was, we’d removed all glass from the nightclub in order to curb costs caused by patrons throwing them around like footballs and randomly glassing each other after drinking four buckets in an hour. We only used the plastic/poly-type glasses so this dirty bastard was bringing in at least two glasses from a neighbouring hotel in what seemed like a  premeditated attack. We cleaned up the poo…but every Saturday night he’d return and lay a big steaming nard on top of a broken glass sculpture. Every fucking Saturday night for about 6 months. We even had a bouncer on duty near the toilets, sussing people out but we never caught  him. We never even got close to seeing who might be doing it. There were rumours that it was an inside job but everyone had their turn at de-clogging the toilet so we certainly didn’t think there was any employee that masochistic who would inflict that on themselves just for shits (literally) and giggles. One thing was certain though. I loved working at that venue.

Except Saturday night…

When Birds Attack: A terrifying story involving grevilleas and galahs.

6 07 2010

I quite like animals. I really do. I also like to think that they like me but sometimes they don’t and this story is about one such occurrence.

Approach at your own risk.

I grew up with animals. Lots of them. My parents ensured I wasn’t one of those maladjusted social retards who freaks out at the sight of a puppy by surrounding us with cats and dogs and other animals. I lived in the small mining towns of Central Queensland and as such had plenty of furry playmates with which I could dress up and parade around the living room. We even had a kangaroo and an emu, both of which sadly ‘ran away because the gate was left open’. Telling my sister and I that an animal had ‘run away because the gate was left open’ was my parent’s way of avoiding the topic of the horrific death from diarrhoea that our emu (Eddie) and our kangaroo (Joey) died from. We never questioned the repeated careless gate maintenance that occurred all too frequently at the Thompson household but since we barely closed our front door it was quite feasible that an open gate should occur and a sickly native animal could escape.

We also had other more generic animals. We had a tomcat that sired an entire population of feral cats in Central Qld and a one-eyed spaniel-cross that detested men. We also had a budgerigar called Blinky. We called him Blinky because he blinked a lot. We weren’t very imaginative people when it came to naming our pets; our fluffy tomcat was called Fluffy. Blinky was a cool bird that, despite blinking like a nervous junkie on dole-day, used to mimic the whistle of a boiling kettle. A talented bird indeed. I loved all of our animals and they loved me. Not once did I have a bad animal experience as a child. Recently I had an experience that changed all of this. A bad bird experience. We’ve all had them but possibly none as terrifying as this.

A few weekends ago I ventured out to a local nursery to buy some native plants. We like native plants because they don’t require the coddling that other plants do. This is a good thing because I am next to useless in the garden and there is less of a chance of me killing a plant if I don’t have to touch it or whisper encouraging words to it. I’m also like the Ivan Milat of the gardening world. I am generally harmless but every now and then I go on a bit of a rampage with the lawn mower or line trimmer and we are soon missing a few plants. I also bury them behind the shed in shallow graves but I digress.

Micky went off looking for grevilleas and I was carrying my son around looking at the pretty fountains and cacti. It wasn’t long after we separated that Ollie spied a bird in the shop. A galah to be exact. He wanted to look at the pretty birdie and I obliged. I walked over and noticed that this bird wasn’t in a cage. He was on a stand and was grooming himself and looking relaxed as some birds do. There was a sign around the stand that said the following:

My name is Aussie. I am quite tame and enjoy being scratched!

Ollie and I admired Aussie for a bit and we indulged in some head bobbing and Aussie dutifully replied with some head bobbing of his own. I felt we had developed a nice relationship here so I reached out to give Aussie a scratch. My hand got about 20cm from Aussie when, quick as a flash, this pink and white terrorist flew onto my arm and then raced up to my shoulder where he bit the fuck out of my ear. I was carrying Ollie in my other arm and I didn’t want to alarm him by screaming in terror so I said “Oh gee whizz. Will you look at that? Aussie is playing. Ha, ha. He’s playing with Daddy’s ear. Ha, ha…” I put Ollie down so I could attend to the situation of a large bird being attached to my head by its beak but Aussie took this opportunity to let go of my ear and latch onto my neck. Now, there’s a spot on a person’s back where it is next to impossible to reach with either hand. Some people develop an itch in this spot and relieve it with a stick, a ruler or a supportive friend. This is the spot that Aussie had targeted as his ‘attack zone’ but instead of an annoying itch in this spot I had 300 grams of malevolent bird burrowing into my spinal column.

It was at this point that I realised I had a bit of a problem. I couldn’t straighten up because Aussie would bite harder so I was bent over with this fucking bird gnawing into a chunk of man-neck. I looked like a bald hunchback with Tourrette’s auditioning for ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. And that is kind of what my son thought I was doing. As I spun around in a circle trying to dislodge this neck-eating bird my son was clapping and yelling out “Daddy is dancing with the funny birdie!” Bless him. What I was actually trying to do was get rid of the bird without screaming or swearing too loudly and scaring my son or anyone else in the shop. I looked for something to rub this bird off on but I was in the cacti section and didn’t fancy a bout of acupuncture to go along with a serving of avian mauling.

I spied the lady who worked in the nursery. Ah! I’m sure she can help. I grabbed my son’s hand and hobbled over to the lady, Aussie still biting the shit out of my neck with his beak and grappling for purchase on my bent back with his sharp claws. She looked at me and said “Can I help you?”

I replied with “Can you help me? What the fuck do you reckon you stupid bitch! I didn’t walk in with this fucking feathered velociraptor attached to my neck!”

Of course I didn’t say anything of the sort. I didn’t want to draw any undue attention to myself and I also didn’t want to raise my voice with my child in earshot. I said to her “As a matter of fact yes, you can help me. I seem to be having a slight problem with your bird. You see, he’s biting my neck and I am in a bit of pain. Could you be so kind and remove him from me before I start bleeding everywhere?”

She looked at me with those dead flat eyes that morons have everywhere and peered over my shoulder to see what the issue was. She then said “Oh, that’s Aussie. I’m not touching him. He bites people”


Come again?

He bites people?

Then why is there a sign over there saying tame. Tame? Tame generally means docile or domesticated. I’m fairly certain tame doesn’t mean getting attacked and having a bird chewing on your neck! Why are you inviting people to give this little pink fucker a scratch! Do you enjoy lawsuits? I looked at the lady and said “Ah okay. Do you have a stick I could beat him off with? He isn’t exactly giving me gentle love nibbles”. Luckily another worker came over with a towel wrapped around her arm. A fucking towel! Like he’s a Wedged-Tail eagle. She gently pried Aussie off my back and he lovingly hopped onto her arm while she stared at me with a “what the hell did you do to this poor bird” look. Sensing a few people coming over to see what the disturbance was I picked up my son and scurried off to find my beloved. Hopefully I could get some sympathy from her.

I was halfway through telling Micky about this story when we both spied another bird sitting in the nursery. This one was larger and with a massive hooked beak. It was also not in a cage. He also had a sign around his perch saying “my favourite foods are seeds and fingers!” What kind of nursery is this? The nightmare nursery? Were there crocodiles in the fountains? This is almost like the kind of stuff that inspired Stephen King to write horror. At sunset do the plants come alive and eat you? If Alfred Hitchcock could have seen what had transpired that afternoon he would have been laughing, rubbing his fat porky hands together in glee. We bought our plants and got the hell out of there before the birds could debrief each other and regroup for another neck attack.

Now I have this fear of birds. Something I never had before. I am actually thinking about conquering my fear by getting a parrot. Something small like a cockatiel which doesn’t have that neck-grasping, spinal-cord ripping ability. I don’t know if it will work though because knowing my family’s track record with animals there is no doubt that the bird will ‘run away because a gate was left open’. Everyone has their cross to bear. Mine is covered in feathers and squawks.

Burger Rings and Border Collies

6 04 2010

I witnessed something today that made my blood boil. It was a random act of physical cruelty that kicked off the day in bad style. I saw a lady beat her dog unnecessarily. Sure, no biggie in the scheme of things but the first day back at work after a long weekend means I get all punchy and shouty at even the smallest incidents. Let me sum up the situation. I’m waiting for the bus. I’m watching a young man sitting near me eat from a bag of salty snacks. Burger Rings to be exact. A lady with a nice looking Labrador dog is nearby and the dog notices that one of the snacks has fallen from the bag onto the ground. The dog, being a dog, knows that anything on the ground is fair game and decided to get its munch on. The lady, seeing her dog acting in a purely natural dog way, reacts by giving her dog a belting and saying “No!! Bad dog!” in a loud shrill voice.

This made me angry and, to be honest,  also a bit hungry. I’ve refrained from eating salty snacks as part of a new health regime and the sight of a bag of Burger Rings made me salivate. I sure love Burger Rings. They are like the retarded cousin of Cheezels and taste like no burger I have ever eaten but I used to love munching down on a packet or two every now and then. As a child I wasn’t allowed to eat bags of mass produced salty treats. When I was hungry I was either given a Granny Smith apple, which was either floury or horrifically sour, or told a story about how tough things were in the past and how much we take food for granted these days. I didn’t mind the stories but they did nothing to quell my hunger. I would have much preferred a packet of Twisties or the like.

The first time I ate Burger Rings I went a little silly. I was given a packet at a friend’s birthday party and I snuck away and crawled into a small recess under the house to eat them in private. I gorged myself, scoffing delicious ring after delicious ring pausing only to wipe my mouth with my hand and to growl at other children who were searching for me. Perhaps it was the feeling of them exploding on my tongue or the knowledge that I was eating something forbidden that made me act this way. I have since worked out that I behave like this when I have overindulged in MSG (flavour enhancer 621). I found this out after a nasty incident at our local Chinese restaurant. Who would have thought eight MSG-laden main courses, fourteen beers and a Karaoke machine would have resulted in a short police chase and a somewhat embarrassing court case, but I digress. Let’s get off the topic of tasty snacks and onto the issue that raised my ire this morning.

My one real vice.

Dogs are omnivorous and are known for their scavenging behaviour. Dogs are also intelligent animals and respond accordingly to our tone of voice and/or body language. They do not need to be physically assaulted. There is only one occasion when giving a dog a good flogging is actually needed and that is when your life is in danger caused directly by a dog. I have been in one of these situations and what I am about to tell you is a true story. So true that I have the scars to prove it.

It was a humid Friday afternoon. I had raced home from work because my partner and I had a rather important work function to go to. It was important because there was an open bar and I wanted to drink around seventeen gin and tonics before the CEO decided to cut everyone off. This usually happens around 7:30pm because I work with a bunch of drunken reprobates who don’t know how to pace themselves. I hurtled up the driveway, threw my briefcase onto the lounge and proceeded to remove my clothes. Time was of an essence here. My partner, sensing my urgency, started getting some nice clothes out and she had already ironed my jeans. How I love this woman.

At this point in the story I would like to introduce my dog. I like agile dogs. I like a dog I can wrestle with. I don’t want to engage in some rough horseplay only to find that I have crushed our household companion to death in a re-enactment of a martial arts technique I had once seen in an action movie. With this in mind we had recently purchased a border collie puppy. She was 10 weeks old and her name was Maggie. Maggie is now 4 years old and is quite easily the best dog in the world but for a short period of her life I was extremely wary of Maggie and this story is why.

Let’s recap. There I am. I am naked in the bedroom. I’m getting shoes out and my underwear ready and I am about to have a shower. You simply cannot drink gin and tonic while smelling like a hobo’s armpit. I was running around my room playing that fun game that dog owners everywhere know called “try not to step on the dog”. My juvenile dog thought this was a pretty fucking ace game.

It was at this moment that Maggie looked up and saw something she hadn’t seen before. A scrotum. A dangling scrotum. My scrotum. Now I’m not terrifically endowed in the ball-sack region but it was a warm day and my boys were hanging a tad lower than usual. Maggie looked up, defied gravity with a huge vertical leap and with cat-like agility latched onto my scrotum. Time slowed at this point. I vividly recall exactly what happened next. I shall recount in point form:

  • I felt pain. Extreme pain.
  • I looked down and noticed I had what appeared to be a very cheerful black and white ball of fluff hanging from my scrotum.
  • The black and white ball of fluff dangling from my scrotum growled happily and shook her head from side to side.
  • The black and white ball of fluff, being only 10weeks old, had a full set of milk teeth which are less like adult dog teeth and more like that of a fully grown mako shark.
  • I punched the black and white thing in the side of the head in a reflex action only to realise very shortly afterwards that I had also managed to smash the crap out of my penis with my closed fist.
  • I fall down in a screaming, howling mess with both hands firmly clenched around my man-bits.

It was painful, to say the least, but I dare say my screams were less about the pain and more about the fact that I had just witnessed a small animal chew on my softest and most tender part of my body. I screamed like a banshee. Imagine the screams if a bus was carrying the Vienna Boys Choir through the French Alps and it had started to careen off the edge of a cliff and the boys all knew they would be falling to their death? My screams would be like that, but with less vibrato. Amazingly, my voice went up an octave when I inspected the damage and saw blood. Not a lot of blood but let’s be honest here, when you see any blood coming from your genitals you can be forgiven if you overreact a bit.

I crawled into the shower, my trembling hands grasping my mauled sack with thoughts of castration on my mind. My voice then went off the  musical scale when I turned the water on and let it wash over the wound. Did it sting? Oh yes, it sure did. It stung like a motherfucker. I looked down amid the tears and the steaming water to inspect the damage. A small tear was visible in my scrotum. Not a huge tear, but again any tear in your genitals isn’t something you just ignore. Funnily enough, after the stinging pain from the water-dousing had subsided I felt only a little discomfort. I have since found that scrotums are wonderful things and can take a lot of damage. I gingerly dabbed some disinfectant (cue more screaming and sobbing) on my wound and finished getting dressed.

I ended up going to my work function and actually used this experience to ‘hold the floor’ for a good while. I strolled (albeit gingerly) around the function room retelling this story to the amazement and laughter of my work colleagues. As well as garnering plenty of laughs it also created a great distraction during which my partner basically stripped the bar bare of all gin-related products and anything with the word ‘tonic’ written on it. Well played, my dear.

As far as I know, the poor dog who got belted for eating a tasty snack wasn’t putting anyone’s life in danger nor did it have a mouthful of genitals. Therefore, I think we can all agree that the owner’s actions were unwarranted. Sure, I have since found out that the dog is in fact a ‘helper dog’ and it is also ‘borderline diabetic’ but still, there was no need for the smack. If she’d been able to discipline her dog properly I would have been able to have that tasty Burger Ring all for myself. Finders keepers and so forth.

Don't let the cuteness fool you. She has one thing on her mind. Scrotums.

When you are Online, no one can hear you scream

11 03 2010

So look. I’m going to confess something. I’ve met people off the internet. I’m not talking about trawling through the online Yellow Pages and phoning up ‘Steve’ from Custom Plumbing and then acting all “oh, you’re the guy off the internet” when he turns up at my house to fix a leaky pipe here. I’m talking about meeting people. You know, for a relationship. Sheesh, this is awkward. Online dating? Otherwise known as the “Lucky Dip”. Now I know, in 2010, that this isn’t an Earth shattering revelation but back in 2002 it was ground breaking. In a way I was a pioneer. A very desperate pioneer. Not as desperate as some it turns out. And that, dear friends, is what this blog is about. Desperation. Clingy, stalky desperation.

Her name was Helen and she was a nurse. She also looked, according to the grainy picture she sent me, surprisingly normal. She messaged me out of the blue from a dating website I had joined which I found a bit odd. I have never been messaged by a woman on one of these sites before. Men? Yes. Creepy men who wanted to know how sweaty I got after a run and if I’d mind telling them where I lived? Oh yes. There are plenty of weirdos on the internet. Following on from her message, things moved quickly. Below is what happened during the week we met:

Wednesday Night:  I get a message from Helen saying I looked cute. Immediately think one of my mates is trying to pull my leg here but I play along. I’ve never been called cute. Interesting? Yes. Leery? Often. But never cute. Helen seems normal if a little giggly. She must be nervous. We email back and forth and then chat on MSN. It all seems to be going quite nicely.

Thursday Morning: I wake up to find about 3 emails from Helen in my inbox. Okay, that’s a little weird but she did say she was getting ‘stuck into the vino’. We’ve all done that. I jot down a few terms that jumped out at me from one of her emails so I can have a think about them later. They are ‘iridescent’, ‘longing’, ‘relationship’ and ‘possessive’. I will look at these words at lunch if I get the chance.

Thursday Lunch: I forget to think about the words from her email due to a rather terrific sandwich. It had three kinds of meat on it and types of lettuce I thought were weeds. I get a text message and an email from Helen. No issues here except I can’t remember giving her my phone number. Alarm bells are dormant at this stage.

Thursday Night: We talk on the phone. I say talk but that was mainly Helen. I nodded a lot and laughed in the right places. She seems nice. We’ve decided to meet each other in real life tomorrow night. This will be awkward. I can’t decide which t-shirt to wear. I decide on the black one. I have a tendency to spray food around like a performing seal when I eat so black will work out well. I sure hope she’s wearing black.

Friday Lunch: Sandwich not as good as I remember but it tasted okay as I read the 4 emails from Helen telling me how much she is looking forward to meeting me. She says she’ll pick me up at 7pm at my house. How nice of her.

Friday Night: It is 6pm and I hear a car pull up outside. I peer out the window and see that it is Helen. She’s an hour early. There’s a small insistent voice in my head that keeps telling me this is a little weird. I ignore it as Helen is wearing a short dress. I invite her in and excuse myself so I can shower. While soaping up I come to the realisation that I didn’t actually tell Helen where I lived. The small insistent voice in my head starts sniggering and telling me “I told you so”. I walk out of the shower and see Helen at my computer. “Just having a look” she tells me. Right. Knock yourself out.

We go to dinner at a nice little cafe. The food is rather good and I am getting a little drunk. Helen asks if I want to go back to her place. My brain says no but my genitals say yes. Things are done. I won’t go into detail other than to say I was happy with my performance. I note that Helen has quite a lot of teddy bears in her unit. Helen says “Oh I just lurve teddy bears”. Ooookay.

I catch a cab home as I don’t want to outstay my welcome. Helen says it isn’t a problem but I don’t want to give too much to this girl. You know, keep them wanting more.

Saturday Morning: I wake up to my phone beeping. I have a text message from Helen. She says “thanks for the wonderful night” and she hopes I’m not too hungover. I stumble out of bed and have a shower. My shower is interrupted by a phone call. It’s Helen. She wants to know if I want to go to a BBQ later that day. I said “sure, that sounds wonderful”. As I hang up the phone I start to wonder why I said that. Helen is coming at 1pm. It is 10am now so she’ll be here any minute.

Saturday Afternoon: We are at the BBQ. The food is nice and there is plenty of beer. It is also Helen’s family reunion. Awesome. I am being introduced as her “NEW BOYFRIEND”. I grin like the Cheshire Cat and at one stage it feels my face will split in half. Her mother corners me and asks me when I think we’ll be having kids. I don’t know what to say to this so I nod and smile and say something about it being a little early on for that sort of talk. Her mum says she’ll chat to me later. Just awesome. I need to get out of here so I complain of a migraine and ask Helen to drive me home. She’s a little annoyed at this because we haven’t played Pictionary yet and she was certain I would be a good match for her Uncle Gary (never been beaten apparently) but she takes me home. I say goodbye which takes a good ten minutes as I try and persuade her from ‘tending’ to my headache. I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

Saturday Night: I’ve had eight messages from Helen so far. Eight. Three phone calls too.  Only one email though.

Sunday Morning: I wake up to a text message from Helen asking me “what are WE doing today”. I reply “I’m helping a friend move and then he’s taking me to a movie.” I get silence for a good hour or so and then a message telling me to “get fucked” and to “jump off a fucking bridge”. I immediately get another message from her apologising for her actions and that she hopes I have a good time with my mates.

Sunday Night: I tell my mates what has happened over a beer or two. They stare in stunned silence at me. I tell them “she’s a nice girl though”. One of them makes stabbing motions and laughs at me. Oh my friends are funny jokesters. We enjoy the movie. It had zombies in it and zombies are pretty much fucking ace. I turn my phone back on and I see I have missed seven phone calls from Helen. Does she not know about the policy of turning phones off in movies? I wonder what she wanted but then realise the fourteen new  messages from her on my phone will probably give me an insight. They range from “I hope you’re having a great time, babe” to “you fucking arsehole. You’re with another girl, aren’t you?” I decide that Helen and I are done.

I get home and tuck myself into bed. At 2am I get a message. I wearily roll over and grab my phone. The message reads “Andrew. We need to talk. I know you are in there. I am watching you sleep”. Oh fuck. My first thought was “Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck” and my next was “I need some sort of weapon”. I look out through the window and there she is, standing in my garden bed like some sort of loon. She beckons to me. I shake my head and say out the window “No Helen. We’ll talk about this in the morning”. She howls like a banshee when she hears this. I shut the window, make sure the front door is locked and turn off my phone. I try and get back to sleep but I hear some banging on the front door and some weird scrabbling that I hope to fucking Jesus is a possum trying to get in the back door. I don’t sleep much. At 4am I get up and look out the window. Helen is still there, frantically writing on a pad of paper. She’s been there all night long. I wait for another hour or so until I hear her leave, her car squealing like a kicked cat up the street. I open the door and written all over my front step are the words “Fuckhead” and “Cheating Bastard” in black pen. Also on my front step is about 15 pages of handwritten scrawl. Helen’s thoughts on the whole incident. I try reading them but get a bit scared after she threatens to slice my penis off on page 4. I file these pages away to read at a later date but we all know the true reason. Evidence. If I was to disappear at least someone might find out what really happened.

I don’t know what became of Helen. I got a couple more emails from her but they were barely legible. Basically she’d gotten into her mind, in the 5 days that we got to know each other, that I was the “one”. The man of her dreams. I once thought I saw her mother in a shopping centre and I spent a couple of very nervous minutes looking like a creepy dude as I hid behind some clothing racks in a Just Jeans store.  I was wary for a good couple of months after that. I sure hope she’s happy. And in another country. In some sort of institution would be nice.

You can tell by the smell…

19 02 2010

I wrote this story a while ago and came across it one night while searching through my “writing folder”. I thought I’d share it with you lovely people.

It is a true story about a crazy guy. A crazy taxi-driver. I haven’t told too many people about this because it occurred on a night that I thought I had wiped from my memory. I went out to dinner with my bud Mark to an Italian restaurant in the Valley. We went with another mate and his former boss. What we didn’t know was that out of the 8 or so of us there, we were the only straight ones. The other 5 were as gay as the guys on the lead float in the Mardi Gras. Real fans of the cock. This isn’t an issue because no one knows how to party harder than a gay dude. It’s an irrefutable fact. But after about 10 seconds of sitting down we realised we were in Queen City. Two of the gay dudes were old wrinkly Queen fags. Just bitter, spiteful men who in between sexual innuendos (ooh calamari rings, I like rings…hur hur hur) basically slated the service staff and called their food rubbish. It was really embarrassing but we were stuck there, basically waiting for the now surly staff to deliver our food which had most likely been spat in. If we were lucky.

After about eleventy bottles of wine, Mark and I decided to call it a night and retire back to his pad to watch the footy, drink beer and tequila and perhaps play Tiger Woods on the PS2. It had been a horrific night and one that I hadn’t enjoyed despite being complimented numerous times on the colour shirt I was wearing and how ‘ruggedly handsome’ I could be if I used a bit more soap.

We jumped in a cab and the driver was pretty friendly. He asked us what we did for a living. I decided to have a bit of fun and told him I was an English teacher who worked in South East Asia 9 months of the year. I didn’t know my little jape would backfire so badly.

“Oh Asia! I love Asia. Do you?” he asked.

“Yeah. It’s pretty tops. The people are so nice and the food is excellent” I replied.

He piped up “oh yeah, I love going there. I go once or twice a year. I fell in love with the joint after my tour in Vietnam. God I love the women. So beautiful”

“Yeah, the women sure are nice” I said. “But you need to watch out for all the diseases and such”

“Diseases?” he queried.

I should, at this point, have realised that I had started something that was going to end badly. Of course I was a little out of it so I continued.

“Yeah. You know. AIDS, the clap, all those nasty ones that make your cock drop off? You need to cover up your junk with a condom, don’t you?”

He turned around and looked me in the eye, all the while negotiating the traffic on the Story Bridge, and said “nah, you don’t need to worry about those. I’ve been going there for 25 years and have never worn a condom”


The car was eerily silent except for the whistling wind coming through the partially opened passenger seat window and the insistant sound of Mark jabbing me in the ribs while he bit down on his hand to stop laughing. I started getting intrigued by our taxi driver.

“Never worn a condom? Aren’t you worried you’ll catch something?” I asked.

“Nah” said old mate. “I can tell which ones are infected. I can tell by the smell of their pussies”

Fucking. What.

I said “…….okay. Um…really?”

“Oh hell yeah, you can tell the sick ones just by sniffing their pussies. The clean ones have a beautiful smelling vagina. Oh god they smell good. Small, petite girls with great smelling lady bits. Yeah, every time I go over there I have a different girl every night for a month and I never wear a condom. I know they are clean. Just know by the smell. You understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes. Yes I do. Oh yes, clean smelling spadges. I shall remember that next time I am out sniffing for some poon-tang. Literally.”

We pulled into the driveway and Mark told him to keep the change. I think this is because he was scared he might accidentally touch his hand in the exchange of monies and develop some weird skin rash. To this day I have no idea how he went about his little olfactory experiment. Did he line them up in the brothel and sniff them each in turn? Maybe he had a list of brothels distributed amongst shell-shocked Vietnam War vets touting places where the ladies ‘smelt farking tops’? Perhaps he sat in the front row at a ‘show’ and snatched ping pong balls as they whizzed past his head, sampling each one with a hearty sniff? It is mind boggling to even think about it.

Weirdest drive home ever.

Paul the Habitual Masturbator

19 02 2010

I really should tell you about Paul (his name has been changed because he is slightly unhinged and may attack if provoked). He’s one of those guys who, when it comes to drinking, not only doesn’t have a clue about where to draw the line but has eaten the chalk and wants to wrestle. His name is Paul. He’s a semi-smart bloke when sober but when he gets a few drinks into him he turns into a frothy mouthed lunatic who has a tendency to outstay his welcome everywhere he goes. Everyone knows someone like this but Paul was an expert at it. You’d have a party on Saturday night and on Tuesday Paul would still be there, sitting on the couch drinking beer and eating BBQ Shapes. I once had to pretend I had a family reunion on down the coast just to get him out of the house. Even still, he wanted the address just so he could ‘pop in’ if he was in the neighbourhood.

He is also a weirdo when it comes to self-pleasure.

The first time I really saw him in action was after a pub crawl about a month after I met him. We’d stumbled home to a mate’s house and we sat on the deck having one last beer. It was about 3am. Paul gets up and goes inside and I say “Where you going, dude?”

“Garn to have a wank, Thommo”.

“Ah, okay. Right”

No one seemed surprised at this revelation and one of my mates says “yeah, old Paulie likes to jerk off after a good drinking session.” I found this fact more than a little disturbing. No more than 5 minutes passes and Paul comes out with a grin on his face. The other guys start warily edging away from him like they know something is up. I follow their lead and sure enough Paul slurs out “Who wants to see my Spiderman impersonation?”

He holds up his hand and it is covered in semen. It looks like he’s jammed his hand into a massive jar of Clag Glue. He then opens his fingers and sure enough, ropey strands of spoof do their best impression of Spiderman’s web. Classy. He then chases us around the house for a bit singing the theme tune, all the while flinging “web” at unsuspecting victims. I ran from the house screaming like a 12 year old girl and wouldn’t come back until someone reassured me that Paul had passed out in the garden bed.

A few weeks later we are at the same house and it is the morning after a big night. Paul goes for his ritualistic wank. Just takes himself off into a bedroom, locks the door and gets down to business. He’s in there for only about 3 minutes and then trudges back out, sits down and starts watching TV. The guys who live at the house are all “Paul, how about you fuck off home?” and he says “Gotta wait for my sock to dry”. He’d had a wank, couldn’t find anything to wipe up with so he used his sock. We all look out the window and the clothesline is empty except for one solitary cum-soaked sock slowly spinning around in the wind. I can still hear the rusty squeaking of the clothes line now.

Enough was enough. We told Paul to get out. Take his cum-rag and go home. He reluctantly trudged outside and got his sock off the line, put it on his foot and squelched off home. Squelch. Squelch. Squelch. Off he went.

He was a scary dude. But he came in handy from time to time. We’d all be sitting around on a Saturday afternoon complaining about being bored and he’d grin madly and then dash off to the shops. He’d come back a hour or so later with a carton of beer, a bottle of cheap vodka, some nitrous bulbs and 3 or 4 BBQ chooks.

Just completely out of the blue.

Once he came with us to Stradbroke Island for a weekend. We got smashed, as you do, but he took it upon himself to be the most inebriated of the bunch. All of the time. We arrived on the island and started drinking. We then started playing touch footy and some locals joined in. He nearly started several fights when he started tackling people. Not like a normal tackle that you see in a game of footy. Oh no, nothing like that. We’re talking big fucking shoulder charges and up-ending spear tackles. He didn’t even discriminate. Some small 12 year old lad was sprinting down the sideline, ball tucked under his arm and Paul made a beeline for him. You could see the terror in this kid’s eye. He pleads “noooooooooooooo” but Paul just smashes the poor kid. Literally picking the kid up and tossing him over the sideline. He’s on the ground crying, holding his stomach and Paul stands over him gobbing off like a steroid-fuelled wrestler. We had to restrain the kid’s Dad and make a hasty retreat after that one.

We then went for a swim and I’d stopped drinking for a bit there, you know, pacing myself. He was drinking rum and cokes at 2 in the afternoon. He then starts looking at us all weird and I said “Paul, what are you up to man” and he said “you’ll see”.

Then, about 10 seconds later I just have this premonition and I duck down. Sure enough something dark sailed over my head and when “PLAP!” against one of my mate’s face. It was a poo. Paul had done a nard in his hand and thrown it as us.

We gave him a bit of a belting after that and he was banned from entering the unit we were staying in. He didn’t mind. He just slept on the tiles out the front, using a cask wine bladder as a pillow, occasionally awakening to hurl abuse and growl like a junkyard dog at innocent passers-by.

If you meet a man called Paul who seems nice at first but after 7 drinks turns into a leery and slightly leany drunk…you’ve been warned.