We were with five other couples at “La Hornswood” Italian restaurant, for my wonderful wife’s thirtieth (many years ago). Billy Joel mentions – bottle of red, bottle of white, but our issue was that the night developed into – bottle of bourbon, bottle of scotch.
I was sitting between Psycho Dave and Doubles my biggest drinking mates back in the day. We were… smashed.
My lovely wife was understandably… angry.
It came up in conversation that I could only do twenty push-ups and Doubles was up me! Big time.
Doubles – “TWENTY PUSH-UPS SWEETHEART? THAT’S CUTE COOL HAND” (my self-ascribed, poker call-sign).
Me – “You’re not exactly at your fighting-weight Doubles. How many could you do?”
He thinks to himself, stands, stumbles and announces to everybody in La Hornswood – “I CAN DO FIFTY! AND I’M WILLING TO BET.”
Me (turning my head with a dismissive wave) – “You can’t do fifty.”
Doubles – “I CAN. MY SISTER CAN DO MORE THAN YOUR TWENTY.”
Me – “I know your sister!”
Doubles – “MY OLD MUM HASN’T DONE MORE THAN THIRTY SINCE HER HIP REPLACEMENT, BUT SHE’S TRYING TO GET HER NUMBERS UP AGAIN.” He pointed right in my face. “COOL HAND’S AFRAID TO BET. CRAVEN AND SOFT.”
My wife looking angry as hell that we were making such a scene, mouthed “DON’T” to me. But Doubles was wearing me down.
Doubles – “I REMEMBER ONLY BEING ABLE TO DO TWENTY, OF COURSE I WAS WATCHING H.R. PUFFIN STUFF AT THE TIME.”
I tried to ignore him, but he was yelling to the whole restaurant.
Doubles – “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 Doubles 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.
Doubles – “HOW ABOUT THE FIVE HUNDRED YOU GUYS OWE US FOR THE WEEKEND? DOUBLE OR NOTHIN’.”
Me – “Done.”
I immediately had my shoulder whacked by the birthday girl, with Spanish fury in her Barcelona eyes.
My wife – “This’s 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.”
Doubles swayed and made a really authentic whip-cracking sound, complete with the whipping action. My cheeks burned.
Doubles – “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.”
Me – “Doubles why don’t y-”
Doubles (interjecting) – “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”
Me – “Just tr-”
Doubles (interjecting again) – “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”
Me – “Why’d-”
Doubles (and again)– “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”
Me – “TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY THEN.” That would hopefully not result in divorce
Psycho Dave – “I’LL HAVE THE OTHER TWO FIFTY.”
Doubles – “OK.” So Doubles was back to five hundred.
Alessandro, the young Italian waiter nominated himself as our umpire. We offered Doubles one last chance to pull out.
Doubles – “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 had all gotten right in the spirit of the competition.
Psycho Dave and I high-fived, when Doubles stumbled and only stopped himself from falling by shoving a hand into the plate of Tiramisu (which we replaced) being eaten by a big dude on the next table.
Anyway, I became extremely nervous when Doubles speedily got up to about 25 push-ups. The entire restaurant, the staff and the chef were counting them out-loud as he went.
But when he got to 30 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 36 push-ups Alessandro, with a theatrical double-sweep of the hands reminiscent of the referee in Rocky II counting out Apollo Creed, disqualified Doubles.
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. Doubles had not won over the La Hornswood patrons.
Mary and my wife both turned and left.
The next day I rang Doubles, who woke up freezing on the lawn, to check he wasn’t divorced or dead.
Doubles (husky-voiced) – “Yeah, that competition 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 were 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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