Through no fault of either party, couples are occasionally thrust into situations, in which one of them really questions, the fundamental value of the relationship.

Back in 1989, my beautiful wife Isabel (who was my girlfriend of only two months at the time) and I, flew to Melbourne to attend her close friend’s enormous, Ukrainian wedding. I had never met anybody there before, not even the bride.

My lovely wife, in 1989. My lovely wife, 1989

Isabel was up the front on the bridal table. I was right down the back, with seven of the most enormous, neckless, pumped-up body builders I had ever seen. Huge Ukrainian lads, who hardly spoke a word of English. Very non-Hornswood.

Four jugs of beer were brought to our table.

Bodybuilder Boyko (in a thick Ukrainian accent, to the waitress) – “No beer us please.”

Me – “Whoa, whoa, whoa Boyko! What?? No beer boys? It’s a freaken wedding.”

Boyko – “No beer us. We train. Competition in week.”

Me – “Oh for f#cks sake lads. It’ll be embarrassing to send back jugs.” I thought for a moment.

Me (to the waitress) – “Just leave the jugs. We’ll be right.”

So after two hours and four jugs, I’m hammered, having an absolute ball with the Ukrainian bodybuilders, despite our speaking different languages. They didn’t touch a drop. They all had two meals each, but they didn’t touch a drop.

Because their names were too difficult, I gave them all nicknames. Andriy became “Schwarzenegger”, Boyko was “Mal Meninga”, Petruso I called “Jessy ‘The Body’ Ventura”, Fedir became “Van Damme”, Olek was “Andre The Giant”, Borysko was “Hulk Hogan” and the other Andriy I tagged “Paul Sironen”.

The Ukrainians called me “party man”, but with their accents it sounded more like “potty man”.

They had the Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980, as the singer with her backup band. She was a bit dull and kept singing originals, which of course nobody knew. So I thought I’d go and give her a hand. Hulk Hogan, Paul Sironen and the lads, thought it was a great potty man idea.

I joined the Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980 up on the stage, which was really a raised platform about 30cm off the ground. I wasn’t so pissed that I just wandered out there mid-song, I waited, next to the stage patiently until she finished her unknown, original.

Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980 looked surprised when I wandered out on stage, waving to the crowd. I stumbled a bit as I walked out and gave her a hug.

Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980 – “Yes?

Me – “Thought I’d let ya know people aren’t really listenin’ to your songs. How about we sing The Gambler, to get the crowd in?

Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980 – “This is not f#cking karaoke. I am a professional performer. I am Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year.”

Me – “Well… you were in 1980.”

Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980 – “Get off my f#cking stage.”

I didn’t want to make a scene. I put up my hands in a sign of acquiescence and stumbled my way back through the tables to Schwarzenegger and the boys.

Ten minutes later, when the band was on a break, my wife was in the toilet with the bride.

Bride – “What’s that noise?

Isabel (listening) – “Oh no.”

On a train bound for nowhere. I met up with a gambler…

I had taken the opportunity to try and save the party. Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980, stood on the side, giving me the old stink-eye.

Obviously Kenny Rogers was not big in the Ukraine, because my new mates knew none of the words, but enthusiastically bellowed “DA, DA, DA” from our table.

When I got to the chorus I yelled to the crowd. EVERYBODY SING ALONG… there was dead silence.

Except for table 36. They DA, DA, DA’d up a storm.

I turned to my left. Isabel, who I hadn’t spoken to all night, was there, arms crossed angrily and she had a look of such Spanish ferocity, such wrath, that I literally recoiled in horror. Problem was, I recoiled too far and I tumbled off the stage. I hit the ground hard and with an enormous booming sound over the speakers, the mic bounced and broke into about five pieces.

Andre The Giant and Paul Sironen immediately rushed to my aid, lifted me off the ground and carried me above their shoulders, back to our table. Jessy ‘The Body’ Ventura, who, when he wasn’t pushing weights was an electrician, commenced putting the microphone back together.

Once back safely to our table, I thought it’d be a good idea to challenge the Ukrainian bodybuilding team to an arm-wrestling competition. Like you do.

The boys were strong. Very strong. The matches, well… they weren’t exactly close, but at least they were quick and had many spectators.

In the spirit of the mighty Anzacs however, I didn’t come last. No I did not! Schwarzenegger had hurt his pec bench-pressing that morning and couldn’t arm-wrestle. So I actually finished seventh on our table of eight!

Apparently later that night, me and the boys had quite a bit of fun carefully lifting and moving people’s cars to different spots. Hilarious!

The next morning I awoke, in a true world of hurt. My head exploding, needing to vomit, my arm feeling like it’d been torn from its socket and my back near-broken.

As I opened my eyes, I saw Isabel, unsmiling.

Isabel – “I don’t think we should go out any longer.”

What could I say?

Me (through squinted eyes) – “You wouldn’t have any Voltaren would you?

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