Sunday, September 21, 2008

The twilight zone...

(Prologue: My wife was reading this, just before, and said to me "Laurie, no-one reading this is going to believe a word of it!" I swear on my father's grave that the following is 100% true.)

I was in first year at uni, studying philosophy. One day, in a packed lecture theatre, some young blokes were mucking around up the back, not far from where I was sitting. Eventually, the lecturer stopped, looked up at them, and said "If you fellows aren't interested in this, then I advise you to clear out and let others who are concentrate."

Another young bloke, a good student who'd I'd met briefly in tutorial sessions, turned towards these guys and said "You heard him - fuck off, why don't you?"

About five of these guys got up from their seats, muttering threats and curses, and trundled off into the sunshine outside.

After the lecture, I was sitting outside with a group of students, when the ringleader of the dopey brigade came up and grabbed the young feller who'd echoed the lecturer's words. He started to go on about how he was going to take him apart, etc, etc, all the while dragging this poor guy, who was half his size, around the courtyard by the scruff of the neck.

I was thirty, then, and a lifetime of surfing, and a few years of hard manual labour, had turned me into a fairly solid bloke. I was 6'1", and about two pick-handles across the shoulders. Not that I was any sort of fighter; I'd always agreed with my dear old mother that "He who turns and runs away, lives to run another day." But I simply couldn't stand by and see this kid (who was as weedy as they come) get terrorised by an idiot.

I stood up, went over to the two of them, and grabbed the aggressor by the shoulder. He turned to see a bloke about five inches taller than himself holding a fist, cocked and ready to let go.

"You've got three seconds to decide whether you're gonna fuck off now, or stay and get smashed all over this courtyard. Two, one..."

He wrenched himself away from me and bolted. The young guy, who was shaking like a leaf, thanked me profusely. I said "No problem, mate; you said the right thing in the lecture theatre."

And that was that. I think the kid must have dropped out of uni, because I didn't see him again.

A couple of years later, I was doing a gig in Bathurst, a big town in the central west of NSW, about 250 kilometres from Sydney. We were playing at the Park Hotel, and it was a special night, because it was the last night this current line-up of the band would be playing together. We'd had a very good run, and attracted a large following in the west, but various members of the band were moving on to new things, so we'd decided to finish our time together at the place it had all begun, the Park.

The Park was a room that could handle about two hundred people; not a huge place, but sufficient for our hard-core fans. Consequently, we didn't need a huge P.A. rig, so we just brought the bare minimum plus our sound engineer. This meant, of course, that the band members had to lug the gear into the joint. It was mid-afternoon when we got there, and there was a big table full of bikies - I can't remember whether they were Bandidos or Comancheros - all sitting exactly in the spot where we had to locate the P.A. system. There must have been twenty of them, and it looked like they'd been there most of the day, because there was plenty of noise issuing from the table. I spotted the bloke who appeared to be head honcho; I could tell, because he had the biggest beard, the longest hair, the loudest voice, and was sitting smack dab in the middle of the group.

I walked up to him and said "G'day, mate - we've got to set up for the band tonight. Can I ask you fellers to move over to another table?"

He grunted at me, and waved his hand as if to say "OK". We went back to the truck and continued to load in, dumping all the gear on the dance floor in front of the stage. Eventually, I went back over to the bikies and said, "Well, we're ready to set all this up; would you guys mind moving now?"

"No worries, mate," replied the captain.

We fiddled around with things we could do for another ten minutes, but it didn't look as though our Harley-lovin' mates were going to move anytime soon, so eventually I went back over and said (very sternly), "Now, I've asked you blokes very nicely a couple of times to move away so we can do our work; now, how about you all pick up your drinks, get on your feet and FUCK OFF to that table over there?"

At this, the captain rose to his feet, pulled a double set of false-teeth out of his mouth, slammed them on the table, assumed the position, eyeballed me and said "RIGHT!"

I don't know what came over me at that point. Maybe mother's philosophy was echoing in the back of my mind. In any event, there was no way I was escaping from this situation. The false teeth were staring at me from the table. I unzipped my fly, pulled my penis out, and with a great big grin said to the captain "Oh, thanks very much!"

There are moments in one's life when time seems to dilate; when reactions slow down, and the world stops revolving, just for a little while. 

The captain looked at me, and suddenly a smile, then a grin, began to spread across his toothless face. He started to wheeze, with a breathy, uncertain, phlegmy sound. "Hee...hee...ha, ha, hawwwwwwwh!" He cracked up, fully, completely, dissolutely. As did his brothers. Before long, the entire table full of bikies was a train-wreck of hilarity. I, on the other hand, was standing on the floor with my heart in my mouth and my dick in my hand.

The captain, still in hysterics, came around the table, scooping up his teeth and shoving them back in his mouth. He put a great big arm, encased in leathers, around my shoulders, and said to his assembled cadres in a voice of complete authority , "This guy is has got balls!"

The assembled crew were pissing themselves; the captain finally said, sotto voce, "You can put your dick away now, sunshine." 

Of course, we were now all best mates. When they realised we were the west's biggest R&B/Boogie band, our status grew even more. Chalker, the captain, insisted on coming into the band room and rolling several joints of the most evil dope I've ever tasted; his mates made sure that the bar staff kept the drinks up to us.

It was a great gig. Far from the two hundred or so that we'd expected, about a thousand people had jammed themselves into the room. The place was rockin' hard. When that many are congregated together, and expecting so much, it is almost impossible, as a muso, to put a foot wrong. All night we rocked and rolled. It was one of the great gigs, and I'll remember it forever.

One tiny incident marred the night. While we were having a break, I was walking across the room to talk to some of the fans. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a disturbance. In one corner of the dance floor, two guys were getting into an altercation. The one was big, aggressive and drunk. The other was short, thin, and obviously in trouble.

"Oh, no," I thought to myself. I just couldn't let this continue. The big guy was really looking for an excuse to do some damage; that much was obvious. He had hold of the little bloke's throat, and was about to unleash a big one on him. I took three big strides, reached out, turned the big galah around and threw a knee straight into his groin. He dropped like a rock, and began to groan, waving his hands around the afflicted region as if one of these days he might be able to magic away the horrific pain in his pants. He was not getting up in a hurry, and I refrained from putting the boot in. I turned around to tell the little bloke that escape was the better part of valour in this situation, and, lo and behold, it was exactly the same guy I'd rescued at the Uni two years before!

We looked at each other for a second, then both of us did a double take, a triple take, and finally a quadruple with pike. He managed to mutter "Oooh, fuck!", then turned around and bolted out the door.

I have never seen him since, but you never know...


Scott and Mindy said...


So you were in a band, uh? Sounds like you are living quite the life. Having been a freelance travel writer myself I appreciate good writing. This is good stuff man! Really.

Cheers. Keep 'em coming.

Scott and Mindy said...

By the way, why can't we vote for this in your poll? Are you going to put it up. I have to read more of course, but this one is good.

Zealous Meerkat said...

This was a riot! You sure have some interesting and hilarious conflict management skills!