I took the last two
steps at the same time. I could play armchair psychologist and pretend it
was the anticipation and excitement of finally arriving in the city I’ve
thought about since I was a child, but the problem with that idea is the
fact that I normally take two stair-steps instead of one. Whether it be the
airplane seats I rode in for seventeen hours that were six inches too small
or the endless need for me to help the height-disadvantaged with their
upper-shelf purchases, I’ve long ago come to terms with the fact that I am a
long-legged man in a short-legged man’s world. Well, a world constructed by
short-legged men, anyway.
I stepped out of the Museum subway tunnel and attempted to smell the young
night. Well, I’ve never smelled that before. That being nothing.
Sydney, unlike the other disgustingly populated cities in which I have had
the misfortune of staying, had no smell. It is possible that Hyde Park had
the mutant power to neutralize, or at least absorb, whatever odors the city
herself generated, but I would notice this lack of essence periodically in
the future, as well. My present self was unaware of that information
I turned left and headed straight for the hotel. I wish I could say I did
that because I’m fantastic with directions, but I probably just lucked into
it. I tend to luck my way into finding a helluva lot of places I’m looking
for, however, so who knows. Maybe I am skilled.
I walked into the Marriott and looked to my left. The hotel bar was
emitting the same sort of Muzak/Soft Trance trash that all self-titled
‘classy’ places and elevators tend to play, so I can’t say I had high
expectations for the place. I knew that is where I would probably find
Pete, and, honestly, that’s where I wanted to go, even before stopping at
the receptionist’s desk, but I was afraid I wouldn’t want to shower if I met
my old friend.
I figured I’d only want to drink.
“How you going?” the red-headed gal asked me. I had to have her explain
that one, because it was an Australian expression with which I was
unfamiliar. Even after the elucidation, though, I still didn’t have any
idea what the hell it meant or where it came from. Of all their particular
idiomatic expressions, that’s my least favorite. It confuses me and causes pauses
I confirmed my reservation and asked if Pete had arrived. “Yes, Mr. Murphy
has checked in.” They wouldn’t give me his room number, which struck me as
odd. Obviously, I didn’t just pull a name out of my ass. They allowed me
to try to call him on the phone, but, of course, I knew he was either
drinking at the hotel bar or had found one while exploring the town.
I left a message and took off for the elevators. “Would you like me to help
you carry your bags to the room, Sir?”
They should have called these guys bag-boys. What a disappointing function
in life. “What’s your son do, Jim?”
“Sigh. He’s a bag-boy.”
Nobody needs these people. It’s like the guy who puts groceries in a sack
when the cashier is standing right there. Sack-boy. Or a glorified version
of the sack-boy. Some people just want to hire two individuals to do
the job of one. These guys are practically useless, anyway.
Actually, maybe they do get some playing time. I’m sure their services are
utilized by the lazy (who shouldn’t be encouraged), the decrepit (who
shouldn’t be traveling anyway) and women (who pack far more shit than
“Nah. I’ve carried my bags this far. I’d feel like a failure if I didn’t
carry them this last little bit by myself.” Bah.
I went up to my room and was rather impressed. Jacuzzi-style bathtub, nice
beds, a couch, mini-bar, table…the only preference missing was a balcony,
but that’s simply a nice option, not a necessity. Though it would have
been nice, considering I had a wonderful view overlooking Hyde Park.
I started to run a bath
and the faucet wouldn’t work. They said they’d send someone to repair it,
but they never did, so the first bath was also my last. Filling a bathtub
with the showerhead is more time-consuming than one initially thinks.
As I was stepping into the tub, the phone rang. I answered it and heard,
“What’s up, dude?”
Enter Mr. Peter
Murphy’s involvement in this little yarn.
Although I’d asked for him specifically, and he for me, the receptionist’s
counter-interrogation techniques were holding up and they still wouldn’t
divulge a room number, so I disclosed the Top-Secret information and told
him to come up and meet me.
While redressing, I took a moment to marvel at the timing of this trip.
Friday, October 21st marked two years almost to the day since
we’d last seen one another. I was in Officer Basic course with Pete and he
was the only one of the graduates with whom I would bother to make a
concerted effort to stay in contact. Not just because he a Straight Pimpin’
G, like me, but also because the rest of the class was pretty much a bunch
We set the trip up while we were both in Iraq, so it was somewhat difficult
to organize with exact accuracy minor details like hotel meetings and
“Whoa, man, you look so much different with hair!” My current civilian
status allows my follicles the freedom to flourish. Of which they have
taken advantage. “Dude, I just got to the bar and the bartender introduced
me to these two randy chicks that want hot American cock!”
I laughed and was thankful I didn’t have to plan any festivities for the
evening. “This country kicks ass.”
We reminisced briefly, but I told Pete I had to bathe and shave before I
started downstairs, and he agreed to keep the women company until I could
throw on some dress clothes and cologne. Since Pete had a head-start on me,
and I was either unwilling or unable to put off drinking any longer, I
opened a Hahn’s from my refrigerator and kicked back in my nice, hot bath.
What a life.
It had been four months since my trip to London, and the first alcohol
I’d tasted since that time. It was as good as I’d remembered. I decided to
have plenty of it over the course of the next eighteen days.
After my beer and bath, I went downstairs to find Pete alone. “What
happened?” I asked. “Did you ruin it already?”
“Nah,” he reassured. “They just went upstairs to change. They live on your
floor. We’re supposed to meet them in half an hour, or so.”
“Enough time for a beer, then.”
“Seth, you’ve got to meet Paul.” I shook hands with the largely effeminate
man behind the bar. “Paul totally hooked us up with these girls.”
“Thanks,” I told him. His karma would come back in the sheer magnitude of
tips we threw around at this place. I spotted the other bartender and
didn’t want him to feel left out, so I extended my hand again. “And you
“Pol,” he finished.
“Pol and Paul!” I shouted, due to the fact that their homonymous-sounding
names struck me as clever, though I’m sure they heard it nightly.
Despite my creativity deficiency, Pol was congenial enough to smile and say,
“Yes, that’s right. Pol and Paul.” Though he was probably thinking, You
Feeling the pressure to head upstairs, Pete and I finished our beer and
returned to my floor. We knocked on the girls’ door and a heavyset woman
with the best pair of her mother’s endowments answered our call. She
introduced herself, but names, to me, were secondary at this point.
“Would you like a shoddy?” she offered.
“What’s a shoddy?” I asked innocently.
“It’s a quick fuck.” These were the first words out of the mouth of my
‘date’, a woman who looked like she had one foot in Gotham and the other in
a Crack House. Still, though, I’d hit it. My desert goggles were
still clouding my vision somewhat. I hadn’t so completely lost my senses
that I was willing to make an effort to do so, however. The proper course
of action would have been to take this woman back to my room and ravage her
relentlessly in response to her remark. I did the next best thing.
She was sitting cross-legged on the bed, had a tattoo above the crack of her
ass, was skinny as hell and had one nipple already hanging out of her
dress. I was still standing in awe of the Quick Fuck line. I couldn’t
think of anything to say, though okay would have been more than
sufficient. Instead, I stood there with a dumb-ass look on my face. Fuck
you, too, Surprise.
Saving me from my retardation, Fat Friend explained, “It’s alcohol. A
“Oh. A shot.” I looked at Pete and shrugged, “Why not destroy myself? It
is a vacation, after all.”
She poured all four of us a glasslet, and, actually, it was delicious as
hell. Dangerously so, to which their third friend could attest. She exited
the bathroom and looked like vomit in human form. “She’s sick,” Fat Friend
informed. “She went out too early last night and has to stay home tonight.”
Sweetness. A self-eliminating problem, for once.
After another shoddy, the four of us decided to take some photos and
begin our evening together. We all went down to the lobby and hailed a
cab. We got in the car and, while the trio were bonding over one of Pete’s
crude jokes about a map of the Tasmanian Territory looking like a woman’s
Netherlands, I was paying attention to our surroundings. I always made it a
top priority to locate all the nearby clubs and bars for use in future
partying references. I saw one called Scruffy Murphy’s, so I knew we’d have
to check that out, at some point, for Pete’s sake.
We ended up at a club down by the dockside. It was all right, I guess.
Outdoor table seating was, I should say. The dance floor, as it invariably
is, was far too crowded. Pete and I sat outside and talked. The girls
wanted to dance, but……fuck dancing.
Dancing so completely blows. Someday, I’m going to make a T-Shirt that
says, ‘Real Men Don’t Dance’ and then wear that shirt into a dance club. We
have to make a stand somewhere. Fuckin’ Patrick Swayze, ruining the lives
of so many. He’s like the wind.
Pete and I caught up on the last two years, told stories of the funny shit
that has happened to us and made fun of the passers-by.
The girls returned to us after about a half hour of dancing or so, and my
little slut was falling out of her dress again. Then, the semi-fat chick
decided it was time to begin the Contest of Champions. She dared Pete to
jump up on the table and dance, so he did, much to their joy. When he
returned to the ground, she sat him down and offered herself up as his
prize. She sat on his lap and made out with him for a minute or so.
She told me I had to take a chair away from a guy and his girlfriend,
despite the fact there were tons of chairs around. I figured these contests
were only a guise to use to jump right ahead to the make-out portion of the
evening, and, since I hadn’t really talked to my girl, thought it would be a
“Hey, buddy, can I have your chair?”
“There are plenty of chairs around here.”
“Yeah, I know. Listen, don’t look, but there’s a girl over your shoulder
and she’s doing this stupid kind of contest where we have to perform various
potentially embarrassing activities. My job is to take your chair. This
particular chair. I’m sure I’m breaking the rules by telling you, but she
didn’t clarify, so her bad.”
“Oh,” he said, then, turning to the girlfriend on his lap, asked, “What do
you think, honey? Should we give him the chair?”
“Sure,” she acquiesced.
The fatter girl ran over and accused me of cheating, which I undeniably
had. “You told him!”
“No, I didn’t,” I lied. “I just said you wanted this chair because you’re
uncompromising and stubborn and I needed this particular chair for you to
sit in. He empathized.”
The man laughed, and I don’t think his girlfriend got it. “That’s exactly
how he said it, too!” He was trying to help the whole exchange appear
nondescript, but he only succeeded in making the whole transaction look
“Well, okay,” the larger lady decided, as I took the prize back to our
table. She then instructed, “All right, now you go kiss him for doing it.”
Her friend didn’t want any part of the master, though, which brought the
Contest of Champions to an abrupt and awkward end. The two girls went back
to dancing and Pete and I returned to our conversation.
“I’m still amazed at the fact I’m drinking a beer in Australia.”
“I know,” Pete told me. “Yesterday, I was in Diwaniya.”
“I wish I could have gotten here in one day.”
“Six months without beer really allows you to appreciate it so much more.”
“Yeah, I was thinking that, too. Man. Australia. It just doesn’t…feel
like it, does it?”
“Not really. I thought maybe…”
“HEY, guys!” The girls returned, only this time, they had some company.
The Usurper. Kevin Fuckin’ Spacey.
Or some dude who looked just like him.
Not that I particularly minded being usurped. My gal seemed adequate, but
beneath me. It’s not like she was extremely interesting. Oh, and there was
the fact that both of these women eventually admitted they had children,
which reduces the attractiveness factor, as well. If Spacey had usurped my
chick, I would not have cared, but it appeared if he was usurping the fatter
of the two, who had put the moves on Pete before. I was somewhat worried
about that, and rightfully so, considering the fact that this time, when
they went to dance, they never came back. Deserted.
Pete and I focused our attention on inebriation. Neither of us had a drop
to drink in months, so, seeing as how we probably weren’t going to be
serving in any capacity for the evening we started drinking. For real.
We discovered a little trick the clubs use to kick people out at the end of
the evening. First, they closed the deck where we were drinking. Then, the
dance floor was roped off. Following that, they closed the seating area.
The bar eventually stopped serving people. In Australia, it is fairly
common to see a club make its area smaller and smaller to cordially give
people the idea that the establishment is closing. However, I did not get
the hint, and seemingly, no one else did either. This resulted in the place
just getting more and more crammed full of drunk people.
It was almost three in the morning at this point, and we were about to leave
when some German female started trying to lecture me on the Iraq War. Which
I found funny. Who knows, though? Maybe when you’re herald the motherland
that has made the most massive military misstep in modern history, you have
a unique perspective. It doesn’t give you any moral high ground, that’s for
I debated her surprisingly civilly and went to leave when I smelled hot
dogs, London-style. I hungered. When I was in London, there were plenty of
vendors that sold hot dogs with grilled onions and ketchup. I hate onions.
I’m not a big hot dog fan, either. As far as ketchup is concerned, I’m
pretty ambivalent. For some reason, though, when I’m drunk, this
amalgamation is delicious.
Anyway, I convinced Pete to try one, too, and he concurred, “These things
are really damn good.”
“I know I told you. I don’t know why these things are so good. Bohtayahrr,”
I said stuffing another one in my mouth.
We caught a Taxicab back to our hotel. I grabbed another beer from my
refrigerator, and for some insane reason, we decided it was a good idea to
call the girls’ room at four in the morning. I believe it was the sick one
who answered the phone, but I guess I’ll never know for sure.
“Hey, what are you guys doing?” I asked.
“Sleeping.” The nice part about that answer is that it is about as succinct
as you could possibly get, if not a bit curt.
“Oh, well we were just seeing what you were up to.”
“I’m going back to sleep,” the voice said, hanging up.
“I suppose that could have gone better.” I don’t know what the hell I had
I was tired and drunk. Reportedly, I fell asleep in mid-sentence while
talking to Murphy.
Hell of a way to start.