A South Melbourne hotel. Booze. Blokes. Mad Monday. A ‘Jackass’-like dwarf * entertainer whose modus operandi is to occasionally go beyond the usual limits. A little more booze.
This will end well.
Actually, it probably won’t.
And so it proved.
Yesterday St Kilda fans** groaned as one. Why? Because one of their own – this time Clinton Jones – thought it HYSTERICAL to set a dwarf entertainer’s shirttail alight. Yet again the Saints’ faithful would be forced to defend themselves against the salivating masses who delight in tossing moralistic hand grenades their way every time one of their lads does something silly.
Look. A foolish Mad Monday escapade, of that there is no doubt. But no-one’s suggesting said dwarf entertainer charged from said hotel resembling Halley’s Comet. His clothes were burnt, but to an unspecified extent. He claims no physical injury. There’s even a bit of chatter from the pub where it all went down that the whole thing was something of a post-fact stormy teacup. But lets not slip ill-fitting shoes on the high horse that now parades among us.
Instead, lets just gallop with it like A Current Affair and call this a BURNT DWARF EXCLUSIVE. ***
When initially confronted with this sordid scoop, AFL chief Andrew Demetriou was so shocked at its apparent ridiculousness he damn near wet his pants on live television (How DARE he JEST?! Demetriou MUST GO!). Closer to St Kilda, supporters cursed their club’s all too predictable ability to BE bad news. Essendonian types freshly whacked by AFL House LOVED the prospect of a few deflective snipes at the only club that could possibly find a way to steal a spotlight hitherto fixed on AFL’s worst ever scandal. Twitter went into meltdown. How DISGUSTING is it to SET FIRE to someone? What KIND of PERSON does something so INSANE? WHO in their RIGHT MIND? How DARE he do that, especially to a POOR DEFENCELESS ENTERTAINER? A $3000 club-imposed fine? So THAT’S what it costs to BURN A DWARF?
On and on and on it went. On and on and on it probably still goes.
But I mean, really… Is this what we’ve become? Introspection thrown out the window, the collective overwhelmed by the intoxicating odour of fresh disgrace, a bandwagon packed solid like a Fiona Scott-ian M4 full of refugees all destined for a good lynching.
I say spare me your finger-pointing outrage. I say take that same finger and point it at yourself.
Everyone does totally contemptible and entirely regrettable stuff, don’t they?
I sure as hell have.
So, in the interests of balance, I thought it only fair to expose some of my own historical horrorshow for public scrutiny. Thankfully I eventually outgrew the several different versions of idiot that inform these various tales. I also remain remorseful. I suspect Clint Jones does too. He probably always will. He is, after all, human.
Anyhow, in no real order, and with shamefully little need for much thought, here is a quick insight into the occasional twerp I’ve been:
1. Last day of school. As tradition dictated we were required to consume copious amounts of grog at a so-called Champagne Breakfast. I don’t recall much champagne. Mostly premixed rocket fuel and sickly warm Tooheys New twist tops. Amid the pass-outs and hilarious spasming of delicate underage stomachs everyone thought it an awesome idea to hurl the lesser proportioned of the crew over a sandstone wall and into Sydney Harbour for a swim. Depth check? Never discussed. Not that depth would have mattered. The high tide had concealed a series of rusted metal poles jagging out of the harbour floor like some giant Barracuda’s lower jawline. Except for dumb luck several of our own could have been left there impaled. So, SO incredibly thick. Can you imagine the headlines that could have been?
2. The special home-baked biscuits Steve**** brought along to my Byron Bay stag function were definitely not beer snacks. Not that anyone noticed. Least of all me. Three hours later, the sun only just down on an event scheduled to finish perhaps twelve hours later, I slinked off totally incapable of dealing with the incoherent voices whirling around in my brain. Yes, I Backdoor Bennied my own bucks. On the lonely trudge homeward down Lawson Street I longed only for the comfort of my bride-to-be’s arms. I could all but smell her by the time I rounded a corner near the descent to our rented Wategos Beach abode. But what was that? Through the trees? LIGHTS. It was a cab. One of those voices convinced me that in it was my naughtiest groomsman, Dunny. HE’S CHASING ME! I MEAN WHO ELSE COULD IT BE? HE’S COME TO TAKE ME BAAAACK! NOOOOO! So I ran. Beyond the safety rail that edged the road was thick scrubby bush. I charged at it, overcame the cookie-fog and a belly full of beer to hurdle the bastard like an Olympian, and beamed at the prospect of lunging into the cool foliage that would soon be my safe haven. But then something awful happened. The ground was never there to meet my feet. I flew for way too long. How long? I’m not really sure. But certainly long enough to conjure a vision of myself as a wastoid north coast casualty in a pool of blood, little more than a skin-bag of crushed bone on the rocks at the foot of Cape Byron. But then, thank the stars above, I felt terra firma once more. I tumbled forward. Branches tore at my shoulders and chest. I rolled uncontrollably. Then a thud as the back of my head struck a thick timber fencepost. Thereafter it was only the hum of a heavy concussion to keep me company. When I came to I realised I was on the coastal walking path that connected Byron’s main beach to my final destination. At a slightly different trajectory and a metre or so to the left and that horrible image I had of myself a few seconds earlier could well have been a reality.
3. Ever tried to pull a stunt style handbrake 180 degree turn while on a late night munchie run to the local 7-11? Only when you’re not a stunt driver. And you weren’t in a stunt car. Nor did you have any understanding of the kind of physical forces in a play. All without a seatbelt. On a narrow road with cars parked either side. With your equally unbuckled best mate in the car. Guilty, your honour. How many people – young men in particular – have NOT emerged from these situations miraculously unscathed. Sheesh.
4. Ever engaged in a close range ‘gun fight’ with a friend, your artillery a big bag of twenty-shooter fire crackers? So, so yep if you’re me. I was a kid, sure. Still, I knew as a pastime it was about as bright as goalsquare mud. Another bullet dodged. In the circumstances somewhat contrarily, I might add.
5. With full and frank understanding of the likely consequences have you ever sauntered through a bunch of parked Comanchero-owned Harley Davidson motorcycles because the grog you consumed at a Marrickville Fight Night made you feel brave enough to make some kind of personal stand against Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs? Yep, I’ve done that too. It didn’t hurt much. Actually it did. I prefer to forget.
6. I was once arrested for maliciously damaging a street sign. Hardly a hanging offence, of course. But it occurred outside a Police Station in front of a couple of officers who’d just come back from McDonalds with their free Happy Meals still dangling in their mitts. I was lairising whilst liquoured after, of all things, the funeral of a mate’s brother. Probably not a good idea to pipe up about being a law student and how ‘I knew how the system worked’ and quoting sections of the Evidence Act while I was in the holding cell. Nor was it a good idea to mention repeatedly (and not just a little arrogantly) the name of a detective – also a cricketing teammate – as someone who would ‘sort it all’ at a time when the good members of the NSW Police Force were under the Wood Royal Commission’s microscope. I probably could have weaseled my way out of it completely had I mentioned the reason why I was turpsed in the first place. At the time I thought any mention of the funeral as some kind of excuse somehow distasteful. Honourable stupidity is actually a ‘thing’, it seems. So too ‘loyalty stupidity’. I had a fresh-outta-Uni solicitor friend defend me when I finally made it Manly Magistrates’ Court. Before my matter was called I watched small time drug pushers, car thieves and fine-dodgers walk out with a slap on the wrist and a ‘don’t let me see you here again’. I, on the other hand – the only suited defendant in the entire courthouse – copped a fine I couldn’t afford, a twelve month good behaviour bond and a dressing down that was making the court transcriber wince. That my friend was a more a trainee conveyancer in his old man’s suburban practice than a lawyer per se probably didn’t help.
7. There was also the afternoon of that cricket training camp way back when. A few of my teammates were at a barbecue beforehand. I say barbecue, but a recall little in the way of meat. Nor the existence of a hotplate for that matter. So in the absence of food we filled ourselves full as boots. With nothing left to drink and the clock ticking towards a training session we weren’t taking all that seriously, one of the non-cricketers, Paulie, agreed to give us a lift in. As we unloaded from his Corolla, our opening bowler nodded towards it’s roof racks. I knew what I had to do. I grabbed on. The bowler let out a loud WOO HOO that faded out behind me as Paulie accelerated. At real pace, too. Later I was told that my body swung all but horizontal as he hurtled left and out of sight. I tried to get Paulie to stop. I yelled. I thumped on the roof. He couldn’t hear me over the din of a Cold Chisel ‘Best Of’ compilation. What else could I do but let go? Lets just say I didn’t have much of a preseason that year. Let’s just say I still bear a few scars.
So there’s seven simple illustrations of the total numbskull I once was. At least sporadically. Thankfully – mercifully – I am no longer the same guy.
None of these things I will do again, of course.
Still, feel free to string me up now. Slice me into sixteenths. Serve me cold on your morality sandwich. In the end it won’t matter a fig. I carry the burden of my own idiocy. I always will.
It’s part of being a person, one that in all likelihood is not so dissimilar to plenty of you.
We stumble our way through eventually.
* For those concerned citizens who have ‘phoned in’ I always thought ‘person of short stature’ was the agreed term, but seeing as mainstream media have teed off on all things dwarf, and the fact there’s a Dwarf Olympics, it seems silly for me to get all politically correct on your arses. Begs the question, though. What if the alleged victim was not a dwarf?
** of which I am one.
*** they really did do this:
**** Not his real name, naturally.