There is one pub in Hornswood which is lovely now, but twenty years ago was dodgy. It was rough, known as a hangout for bikies, dealers and tough dudes.
I was at a work function in ’96 and for some reason, we had moved from a trendy bar in the city, to The Hornswood Dodgy Hotel. We had been drinking… heaps.
Anyway, nature called. I needed to shake hands with the man. So I made my way through the crowd to the gents.
There was a woman in there, by herself, looking in the mirror. She turned and gave me the old stink-eye. She was not happy to see me at all.
Nor was I happy to see her. That place is the last true bastion of manhood.
Angry woman in the men’s – “Wrong place you f#cking idiot, this is the ladies!”
She had a really aggressive tone. It instantly got my back up.
Me – “Actually I think you’re in the wrong place (I left a deliberate pause where she had used f#cking idiot, to take the moral high ground), this is the men’s.”
Angry woman in the men’s – “Why would I be in the men’s?”
My brain was a bit cloudy, but I came up with the perfect retort.
Me – “Well… why would I be in the ladies?” It felt good. I now had the moral high ground and the psychological advantage.
Angry woman in the men’s – “Because you’re a drunk f#cking idiot!”
Me – “Whoa, whoa, whoa! I’m not drunk.”
I was drunk.
I did take a sneaky look around and couldn’t see any urinal, but it could have been around the corner. And the place did smell quite nice. However, I was standing my ground.
Me – “The only way we can settle this is to wait for the next person to enter.”
She sighed deeply.
Me – “If I’m wrong, I’ll admit you’re right and that I’m a drunk f#cking idiot. If you’re wrong, you admit that just being sober and angry, doesn’t make you right.”
With such high stakes, I was getting a little nervous.
We talked coolly for a few moments, about nothing really, just two people who didn’t really want to be in each other’s company, making chit-chat. I put off shaking hands with the man, until the situation was clarified.
Finally the door opened inwards and a large Maori looking, BLOKE, walked in.
Me – “YEAH! YEAH! I KNEW IT.”
I threw up my hand to high-five the big man. He ignored me.
Me – “Don’t leave me hangin’ bud.” I waved my high-five-awaiting hand around a bit.
Maori looking bloke – “ARSEHOLE, you’re in the ladies. Out!”
Damn. I felt like a fool. I obediently started to follow the bouncer.
Angry woman in the ladies – “Don’t you have something to say?”
She gave me the stink eye again. This time it really burned.
Me – “I was wrong.”
I started towards the door, which the bouncer held open.
Angry woman in the ladies – “And?”
Me – “Huh?”
Angry woman in the ladies – “Annnd?”
Me – “And I’m a drunk f#cking idiot.”
Angry woman in the ladies – “Thank you.” She turned to the mirror and continued to put on makeup.
Maori looking bloke – “Drunk hey? Time to go home then arsehole.”
Anyway, it took some time, but I eventually talked my way out of being evicted. And an hour or so later… it was time to shake hands with the man again.
Into the gents (this time) I went and just for a second, I thought the two blokes at the sinks were women, because the previous run-in still burned fresh in my mind and they both were tending to their particularly long hair. One was wetting his hair down and one looked to be tying his back in a pony-tail.
I was so relieved that I hadn’t made the same mistake again.
Me – “Jeez boys, I thought I was in the ladies!”
I wish I had thought before I spoke, a common failing for me.
The two men stood straight up and turned. They were massive, scary, bikies! One was about six-foot five, the other was not much shorter. Big men. Lots of neck tattoos, muscles, bikie colours, thick moustaches, the works. They looked ready to bollard me to death.
I knew if I didn’t turn the mood around immediately, I was gone. I took a punt.
Me – “THEN I THOUGHT SHIT, THERE’S TWO REALLY UNATTRACTIVE LADIES IN HERE.”
They were huge. I’m not small, six-foot one and 111.6kg (which I round down to 111), but these boys both dwarfed me. They didn’t laugh. One of them started towards me. I had to take one last crack at making them see the funny side. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion.
Me – “Two really unattractive ladies… one of which is carrying a bit of extra weight.” I pointed at the biggest bloke. He had a big gut.
They burst into laughter. It was sweet music to my ears.
One bikie (through laughter) – “Fu#k me Felon, I can’t believe he called you a lady. THAT’S A FIRST!” He was struggling to get the words out.
Felon – “And you a fat fu#king lady!” They laughed hard.
I urinated (all the while thinking I can’t believe he’s called Felon), washed my hands and left, while they still laughed loudly inside.
As the door shut behind me, another bikie approached. Not as big, but equally as scary.
New, equally as scary bikie – “What’s fu#kin’ goin’ on in there?”
Me – “Felon’s just having a bit of a laugh.”
New, equally as scary bikie – “Felon’s laughing at something you said? Well fu#k me.”
I made my way back to my table and my very much out-of-place work friends. I sat down quietly. Ten minutes later Felon sent over a schooner and a whiskey shot.
It’d be REALLY awesome if you left a comment on my blog, Share via the Facebook button below, or just give the Facebook post a thumbs up. Check out my new writing business, which allows me to now claim I am in fact, a professional writer (www.hornswoodexpress.com.au). Cheers.