October 4, 2017 by writehandman.com.au
Back in the day, if the wife of one of our poker crew was generous enough to allow a game to take place in their house, the lads were always very thankful and respectful. We realised what a disruption eight swearing, drinking, overweight, particularly unattractive, gambling blokes, can be to a mid-week family routine.
One night we were having our game in the rumpus room of Jacqui and “Apollo” (his self-ascribed poker call-sign), under their house.
One of the lads had just returned from two months working in Asia and was giving us the rundown on how a client had taken him to one of those unsavoury places where (there’s no delicate way of saying it)… Thai ladies shoot ping-pong balls into schooner glasses. Of course I had no idea any such places existed.
I know, I know. This is not a very pleasant, nor high-brow blog topic and it is even a pretty tacky conversation for poker boys.
Anyway, we always order pizza and bring our own beers, so there’s never any onus on the hostess to do any sort of hosting. In fact normally, the wives do like my wife and avoid the area like we are playing in a “Tuberculosis, Syphilis and Leprosy-Sufferers Tournament” (one which I’m assuming would find it somewhat difficult to maintain a suitable level of spectatorship).
But most unexpectedly that night Jacqui, being wonderful, walked in with chips, dips, cheeses and crackers. We all cheered loudly, however “Dodgy” (his ascribed poker call-sign), who had been at a harbour cruise all day and had turned up extremely drunk, yelled “GET OUT THE PING-PONG BALL AND SCHOONER GLASS”.
It was an indefensibly sexist and disgraceful comment, which was extremely out of character for the much-loved-by-wives, Dodgy. But because he and Jacqui had been close friends for years, she just said “you’re an idiot Dodgy” and left. We all then got up him for being a drunken swine, so much so that he went upstairs and apologised.
I won the poker, by quite a margin. Played like a man possessed. This has no relevance to the story.
So the next night, three of us lads from the poker and our wives had gone to an Italian restaurant. “Tiger” (his self-ascribed poker call-sign) and Suze, Jacqui and Apollo, my lovely wife Isabel and I, had just sat down.
Me – “Thanks heaps for having the lads around last night Jacqui.”
Jacqui (to the other two wives) – “IT WAS VERY UNCOMFORTABLE! I felt demeaned!” She started to cry.
Issy gave me a look of death, as she consoled Jacqui.
My wife – “What did my husband do?”
Sobbing a bit, she recounted the story of the highly inappropriate, Dodgy ping-pong ball comment.
Eventually Jacqui stopped crying and we had a great night. We told Dodgy the next day the repercussions of his drunken off-the-cuff line. He was mortified, went around there with flowers and ate humble pie. He ate so much pie he would have done Artie Beetson proud.
A month later, surprisingly, we were invited back to the Jacqui/Apollo abode (the site of my magnificent victory) for more poker. We knew we had to be on our best behavior.
Tiger and I were the first to arrive. Apollo had been held up at work. We hadn’t seen Jacqui since she had been upset at the restaurant, so Tiger and I were very much on tenterhooks.
Jacqui asked us, while we waited for the other blokes, if we could help her move a cupboard in their living room. Putting my glass down on the ground (I was responsibly hydrating before our night of beer and poker), I got on one side of the cupboard while Tiger and Jacqui got on one corner each at the other end.
Bing. Bing. Bing.
I kid you not. A PING PONG BALL, dropped out from behind the cupboard at Jacqui’s corner and bounced along the tiled floor.
It felt like one of those moments of impending disaster, where things happen in slow motion. Tiger and I froze, horrified, just staring at the bouncing demon. We knew if this was not managed with aplomb, it may have nightmarish ramifications. Jacqui felt demeaned the first time, a second time could be terrible.
The ball hit my water-glass and nearly went in it.
Thoughts rushed through my mind.
Do we just ignore it? No, one of us surely had to say something sensitive to the situation (that generally would rule me out), yet diffusing.
Do I say – Wow. That’s a bit awkward.
Or – Were you looking for that?
Or – How did that get stuck behind there?
Then I hit on it.
Me – “You missed.”
There was silence. Tiger strangled a smile. Jacqui burst out laughing. Phew.
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