“We’re all going to stay at the hotel room,” announced Jill. It was Saturday night – our last night in Darwin and our last night in Australia. Bazza had organised a pub crawl in town and we were gonna cut loose. We had begun our last drinks on land at the Dinah Beach Cruising Yacht Association bar. I was doing the rounds – again – to say ‘goodbye’ to the locals and members and characters that I had befriended.
John, the politically outspoken bar manager who gave me my first job at Dinah, Cheryl the grumpiest happy bar maid, Merco with his growling voice and antics, Chocko with his stories, Richard with his ramblings, Mongrel Mick who’s deck I sanded down, Paul with his awesome guitars (and my first sailing and fishing trip), Gonzo with his mornings ‘Can’t complain’, Josh with his late-night stumblings, Sue and Rob’s loudy-rowdy, 5-weeks Rowan, Brodes with her uplifting peppiness and Jack, who let me stay on her boat for work for four weeks.
And the mozzies and midges.
“Are you going to introduce me to your friend?” asked Brian, the Irishman I had meet earlier when he was still sober.
“No,” I said. “She’s with me.”
I was returning from the bar with Olivia, a photographer by trade and one of the crew of the Tropicbird when he followed us back to our table. He was discussing his abnormally long eye-leashes.
“They make me look like a pervert,” he demonstrated staring right at me.
I excused myself to the toilets and upon my return was glad to see he was travelling from table to table.
“You know he’s after you, right?” said Jill as I sat between Orla and Olivia.
“Hmm?” I said, sipping on me beer.
“‘I don’t mean to drive a wedge between the two but are they together?'” Jill quoted the Irishman. “‘Because I’m after him.'” Jill was looking at me. Orla nodded in agreement.
“Whatta ya mean?” I asked.
“He was chatting up Olivia to get to you,” Orla explained further.
“Nooo…” I looked at them. “Can’t be”. Present company nodded.”You mean,” I turned back to see that he was batting his abnormally long eye-lashes at me.
Brian wanted me to be the spoon he bends like Uri Geller.
“I just saved your ass – literally,” said Jill as we hi-fived.
“Are you blushing?” asked Olivia and as everyone drew their attention to me I said,
“No!” and could feel my cheeks turning tomato-red.
Brian lingered about like the onion-smell he was emitting. He tagged along in our taxi ride to town and even invited himself to join us at the hotel room where we put away our things.
“Can I play DJ?” he asked as he pulled out his laptop.
“We’re just about to go,” Orla said as she held the door open. He stumbled out and she shut the door behind him, rescuing us and our nostrils.
We headed down not long after to get to the pizza shop just down the road. A white coach was parked in front of the hotel. Looking left, the dark street was empty. Looking right, there were two men standing and smoking – with Brian who had his back to us.
“Oh look, he’s already chatting up two other guys,” Orla pointed out. “You’re not jealous, are ya?” she asked me. “He only wanted to take you in the bathroom.”
“How am I tagged as the taker and not the giver?” I said.
We decided to cross the street with the coach providing cover. But Jill was gravitating towards him like an out of control satellite hurtling towards Earth.
“Jill!” We called to her.
She turned around with a ‘What?’ look on her face. She hadn’t noticed him as we turned right to cross the street behind the coach. With Jill safely back in our orbit, we walked briskly down the street to the pizza shop.
The smell of onions wafted through and Brian appeared behind me. Luckily, he was chasing down his laptop.
“I left it in your hotel room,” he slurred. Dave tried to reassure him that they wouldn’t forget it.
“We’ll leave it in reception for ya,” he said as he and Brian exchanged phone numbers.
From the pizza we caught up with Baz at the Youthshack. After a shot called ‘Wet Pussy’ we headed out on Mitchell St. Our second stop, Hot Potato, was hosting a hen’s night.
We had a shot called, ‘Fresh Pussy’ and then we had a choice of Hubba-Bubba or Redskin low-balls on ice.
“Tastes like melted raspberry icy poles,” I noted, finishing my drink and tipping the ice into Olivia’s glass. “Where’s Dave?” I asked, leaning towards Jill’s ear as the poppy sounds of what some might regard as music pumped through the speakers.
“He’s gone to the ATM,” she said over the loudspeakers. “I said, ‘Thanks for coming out tonight. I hope it doesn’t get too crazy for you’ and he said we haven’t seen crazy yet. He’s going to get cash to prove how crazy he can get.”
Huh, I wondered. How much more crazy could a Saturday night out in Darwin get? And on the notoriously infamous Mitchell St.
Dave came back and bought everyone tequila shots. Everyone means the entire crew consisting of British Bazza, Irish Orla, Aussie Olivia, the Yankees Jill, Omar and Alison and me.
I don’t do tequila and neither does Olivia. We passed our shots on to Bazza’s Aussie crew that were up from Adeliade while Dave prepared the entertainment. He had a low-ball glass full of lemon wedges and a few packets of salt. He ripped open the packets and lined up the salt like cocaine. Then he produced a straw.
“Dave,” I said, “you’re not going too…”
He looked at me with a devilish grin as I stared at Jill.
“No…” I began as Jill nodded and Dave drew everyone’s attention. He shot the tequila, bent over the line of salt, snorted it up through the straw, grabbed a wedge of lemon and drowned his eyes with the citrus juice he squeezed out of them.
Into his eyes.
Both of them.
Tears were streaming down Dave’s face as he rose up. Bazza, like the rest of us, was jaw-dropped, but thought quickly as he raised it up and grabbed a napkin to wipe Dave’s face.
We were all staring at each other, jaws on the floor. Jill was the only one who wasn’t surprised. She just shrugged at us. Orla and Olivia leaned in to be heard over the speakers. “I can’t believe we just witnessed that,” Orla said what we were all thinking.
“I know!” I said. “I always thought it was a myth! Something they came up with in Hollywood!”
“I feel blessed and privileged to have seen that ,” Olivia summed it.
Baz rounded us up and herded us out to the next bar, Wisdom. The line spilled out to the street but being a group of 12 on a pub crawl, Baz cut us through and we went straight to the bar for more lolli-flavoured shots of ‘Fresh Pussy’ followed by a few beers.
We tried to dance to the noise that the crowd was bouncing too but it was cheesy pop with extra feta.
Our next stop was The Deck where shots of sambuca were poured out. Dave demonstrated his party trick again. This time Baz was ready with a napkin. We were still jaw-dropped the second time round as Dave wiped away lemon tears from his eyes.
“Omar!” I called out to him. “Sambuca shots! Let’s do this!”
“I don’t do Sambuca,” he replied. “Let’s do tequila!”
“I don’t do tequila!” I said back.
Well, this was a quandary. I looked over at the bar and took a deep breath. “Alright,” I announced. “If I do tequila, will you do sambuca?”
“It’s a deal,” and he headed off to the bar to get us tequila shots.
We lined up the clear shot of the Mexican beverage next to the dark (and quite thick) Italian muck. As I shot tequila, Omar shot sambuca and vice versa.
“Oh good god,” I groaned as both shots hit me deep in the stomach.
As the music progressively became worse, Olivia and I danced on the stage until the bouncer requested us to get down from it. Baz herded us out to our last bar and the only place to really finish up a proper night in Darwin – The Vic Hotel.
A live band was playing covers of pop songs. We had another round of lolli-flavoured shots, a beer and hit the dance floor as the band played Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ and some other covers I can’t recall.
By about 01:30 we had all retired except for Olivia, Baz and his Aussie crew. I walked back to Dinah beach and after a couple of Skype sessions with my brother and a good mate from back home, I tip-toed onto Richard’s catamaran and crashed in the salon with an irremovable smile on my face.
Today we set sail to Indonesia, where the waves await my surfboard and my soul.
I think the last time I was this excited about anything was when I saw The Rolling Stones live at Fenway Park in Boston back in 2005.
Start me up.