Billy Joel mentions a bottle of red, bottle of white. Our issue was, when we went to “La Hornswood” Italian restaurant, a bottle of bourbon, bottle of scotch. We were with five other couples, for my wonderful wife’s 30th.
I was sitting between Psycho Dave and Irwin (so called for his safari-suit-coloured wardrobe), my biggest drinking mates. We were… smashed.
Isabel was… angry.
It came up in conversation that I could only do twenty push-ups and Irwin was up me! Big time.
Irwin – “TWENTY SWEETHEART? ONLY TWENTY COOL HAND?” (My self-ascribed, poker call-sign)
Me – “You’re not exactly at your fighting-weight Irwin. How many could you do?”
He thinks to himself, stands, stumbles and announces to everybody in La Hornswood:
Irwin – “I CAN DO FIFTY! I’M WILLING TO BET COOL HAND HERE.”
Me (dismissively) – “You can’t do fifty.”
Irwin – “I CAN. MY SISTER CAN DO TWENTY.”
Me – “I know your sister!”
Irwin – “MY OLD MUM HASN’T DONE MORE THAN THIRTY SINCE HER HIP REPLACEMENT EVERYBODY, BUT SHE’S TRYING TO GET HER NUMBERS UP AGAIN.” He pointed right in my face. “HE’S AFRAID TO BET. CRAVEN AND SOFT.”
My wife looked angry as hell that we were making such a scene. She mouthed “DON’T” to me. Irwin was wearing me down.
Irwin – “I REMEMBER ONLY BEING ABLE TO DO TWENTY, OF COURSE I WAS WATCHING H.R. PUFFIN STUFF AT THE TIME. I HEAR A LOT OF OVERWEIGHT WOMEN CAN ONLY DO TWENTY.”
I tried to ignore him, but he was yelling to the whole restaurant.
Irwin – “COOL HAND’S LIKE THE COWARDLY LION, ONLY FATTER… OR MORE LIKE THE COWARDLY LIONESS. A LOT OF UNDER-”
Me (interjecting) – “ALL RIGHT!! What’s the bet?”
My wife and I, for the previous ten weeks, had been taking part in a weight-loss competition with Irwin and his wife Mary. The losing couple, had to spend $500 on the winning couple in the Hunter Valley on a weekend for us all (it was a while ago). We lost, so we owed them the weekend.
Irwin – “HOW ABOUT THE FIVE HUNDRED? DOUBLE OR NOTHIN’.”
Me – “Done.”
I immediately had my shoulder whacked by the birthday girl, with fury in her Spanish eyes.
My wife – “This is not one of your drunken boy’s nights. Don’t you DARE bet him. That money’s for us all to have a lovely weekend.”
Irwin, swayed and made a really authentic whip-cracking sound, complete with the whipping action. My cheeks burned.
Irwin – “WHIPPED HEY COOL HAND?? YOU GOT PROBLEMS AT HOME MATE, WHILE I’M UP HERE BEING CLINT EASTWOOD. YOUR WOMAN’S SPOKEN, YOU’D BEST RUN ALONG.”
Irwin (looking at me with mock sympathy) – “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT you’re whipped. There’s nothing wrong with being scared of your wife…”
Me – “Irwin why-”
Irwin (interjecting) – “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”
Me – “Just-”
Irwin (interjecting again) – “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”
Me – “Why’d-”
Irwin (and again)– “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”
Me – “TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY.” That would hopefully not result in divorce
Psycho Dave – “I’LL HAVE THE OTHER TWO FIFTY.”
Irwin – “OK.” He was back to five hundred.
Alessandro, the young Italian waiter nominated himself as our umpire. We offered Irwin one last chance to pull out.
Irwin – “DID YOU BECOME FATTER AFTER HAVING YOUR TESTICLES REMOVED COOL HAND?”
We had to move five tables for push-up space. The patrons didn’t mind as they were right in the spirit of the competition.
Psycho Dave and I high-fived, when Irwin stumbled and only stopped himself from falling by shoving a hand into the plate of avocado-veal (which we replaced) being eaten by a big dude on the next table.
Anyway, I became extremely nervous when Irwin speedily got up to about 30 push-ups. The entire restaurant, the staff and the chef, were counting out-loud as he went.
But when he got to 35, he really started to struggle. His arms shook, he sweated out pure bourbon and scotch. Like the building of an ancient Pyramid, his butt was slowly but surely, getting higher and higher.
Come 41, Alessandro, with a theatrical double-sweep of the hands, reminiscent of the referee in Rocky II counting out Apollo Creed, disqualified Irwin.
Psycho Dave and I leapt into the air. Not only did we win the bets, but we let a mate humiliate himself in public! The whole place erupted with cheers. Irwin had not won over the La Hornswood patrons.
Mary and Isabel, livid, left.
The next day I rang Irwin, who woke up freezing on the lawn, to check he wasn’t divorced or dead.
Irwin (husky-voiced) – “Yeah, that was somewhat disappointing. You know when you’re really pissed, and you sort of black out for a while. That was last night. When I came to, I was in the middle of the restaurant, people cheering and me doing push-ups. I had no idea why I was doing them, all I knew was that I had to do as many as possible.”
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