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Anecdotes

When I was 21 I went to my first ever strip club.  It was for a friend’s 18th birthday and everyone in the party was excited, but I was trying to play it cool.

To get in you had to go down some stairs at street level. Once underground the place was understandably dark. Understandably dark because it was below street level and also because it was a shit box.

Angel’s Paradise LTD was in a dimly lit, lengthy cellar. The plush red velvet seating around the sides of the room had grown dull and threadbare from a prolonged exposure to stale beer, damp walls and grinding knees and thighs. The gold leaf had been rubbed from the fittings long ago with the groping of sweaty palms and the gushing of unfiltered, dirty tears.

It was mid-winter and everyone in the room had goose bumps for one reason or another. I was the oldest in the group and so naturally wanted to appear un-phased by the bare, mottled flesh all around us.

The girls were no older than us. The room leaked panic. All except from the Mother Hen, she stood in the middle of the flock. A broody 40 something, legs apart, hands on hips exuding an erotic yet motherly dominance.

I swaggered to the bar, a bolshie chest, cash in a loose yet careful grip so as for it to appear a wad. A cool, crooning smile as I acknowledged the nude bar maid. Eyebrows raised and on the charm offensive. I must have looked awesome.

As I perused the bottled beers and alcopops in the display chillers I noticed a stack of McDonalds dipping sauces tucked away in the bottom corner of the furthest most fridge. My heart plummeted and then rose again just as quickly.

‘Had these girls eaten their chicken Mcnuggets and fillet o fish sandwiches before or after taking their clothes off?’

Images of the girls pushing soggy burgers into their mouths, rushed into my mind. Coupled with visions of pale, flaccid French fries dangling loosely above puckered lips.  The dancers clad only in thongs and push up bras, dropping crumbs or the odd dollop of mustard onto their bare laps quickly gave me a new burst of confidence. My nerves left me. No longer did I have to cloak my awkwardness with a trepid suave.

I was instantly turned off by the idea of lap dances for life. The thought of those cartons of sauce lying idly in wait until the next pre dance fast food feast gave me an illegitimate dose of morale conscience and an new easy feeling.

Now when my nerves go in a room full of naked people I just picture them all eating a Big Mac.

 

When I was young my granddad drove a green Nissan Datsun. It was a putrid, mint green. The interior was smoggy and relentless, as close to umber in tone as you would wish. As a complete unit it wasn’t too dissimilar looking to a chocolate lime.

The carpet, the same off brown as the seating was a thick shag pile, all gnarly and knotted holding a damp, oily mildew under the fingers. It had caught, in its web over the years rusty screws, loose change, hairpins, sweet wrappers, the sort of detritus you might expect to find rattling around in a typical, old family runner. These objects however were securely woven into the fabric creating a precise carbon dating of the vehicle for any future archeologists that might happen upon this anthropological gem.

In the school holidays I’d sit on the back seat whilst my granddad ran errands. I always thought, when he told me we were going to run an errand, of an exotic place where I would witness new and exciting landscapes but it was usually just Woodley precinct or the high rise flats where my aunty Hilda lived.

On one of these particular errands I had brought along a packet of strawberry Hubba Bubba. Upon lodging a piece into my mouth I quickly grew disappointed with the flavour and unable to stand the synthetic, saccharine burst I took the fluorescent pink wad out of my mouth.

As my granddad careered round corners and swerved up curbs in his usual fashion I struggled in the back, sliding from one side to the other. Trying to keep a grip of the seat with my childish thighs and hands I let slip a grip of my wretched blob of sticky bubble gum. It jumped across the seat and sprang forward into the matted brown jungle. In a desperate attempt of retrieval I nudged it deeper into the brown unknown. It tangled wildly and gladly into its new home. I yanked and pulled, uprooting clumps of sticky pink and brown fur, but the more I struggled the more the gum assimilated with its new environment.

From that day forward my granddad’s car had two distinct odours – the thick, comforting smell of stale cigarettes, cloaking the upfront interior with the territorial pride of a feral street cat. And in the back, the oozing sickly sweet smell of strawberry Hubba Bubba.

My granddad’s sighs could not keep my glad heart from leaping. Despite the frowns that gathered neatly above his kindly eyes, I was left with a gluttonous sense of pride. A warm feeling from the bond I believed my granddad and I now shared, represented in the mingled, wreaking odours that our bad habits had imprinted on that green Datsun forever.