brisbane

The Gertie’s G20 Drinking Game

– Tony Abbott gets drunk and acts like the worlds’ most embarrassing uncle at a BBQ: dunk your head in a keg of VB, it can’t get any worse.
– You see someone wearing their G20 all access pass outside of the exclusion zone: top shelf, A grade scotch, two chunks of hand chipped ice.
– Held up by a motorcade carrying the assistant to the assistant of the guy who shook Obama’s hand: lemon, lime and bitters (you’re driving).
– Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff asks where the restrooms are, isn’t seen again until Monday morning: one whole bottle of cachaça.
– King Abdullah mistakes Campbell Newman for his chauffeur: order a white wine spritzer and hang your head in shame.
– François Hollande and Matteo Renzi overheard comparing the size of their “planes”: a bottle of Australian red, just to annoy them both.
– A friend expresses surprise that Turkey is invited: glass of rosé.
– Shinzo Abe takes Enrique Peña Nieto and his wife to karaoke at the Brunswick Hotel after one too many frozen margaritas: there’s no such thing as too many margaritas, have another one.
– Lord Mayor Quirk asks Park Geun-Hye how his flight from Toyko was: find Tony Abbott and congratulate him for not being the most embarrassing uncle after all. Share a shandy with him.
– Protesters overthrow the Convention Centre and turn it into a rave party: two litres of bottled water, followed by a tantrum on Tuesday.
– South Africa is here as well? Sheesh, have a Captain Morgan’s and tell me how this G20 thing works again?
– Xi Jingping and Mariano Rajoy caught goosestepping behind Angela Merkel: crack a Lowenbrau.
– Obama fails to recognise Stephen Harper, leader of Canada: oopsie daisie, best break out the moonshine.
– David Cameron bets The Falklands in a game of late night poker, loses to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina: two pints of warm lager (actually, make that three).
– Narendra Modi tweets a photo of Barnaby Joyce holding a pineapple tart with the caption “who’s the fruitcake?”: double rum and coke. Bundy, of course.
– Vladimir Putin is seen leaving The Wickham in the early hours of Sunday morning: Wet Pussy shot.
– Indonesian President Joko Widodo takes one look at all of them, decides he doesn’t want to be in politics after all: champagne for you sunshine, you’ve got a reason to celebrate.

Written for Gertie’s Bar & Lounge

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Unavailable Tampon Syndrome

It’s two days before my period is due and as usual my mood is hanging somewhere between moderately frustrated and thoroughly homicidal. This month however it’s not PMT that’s the cause of my irritation, but another lesser known disorder called Unavailable Tampon Syndrome, or UTS. Most of you won’t have heard of it because…well…I just made it up, but the seriousness of the condition should not be underestimated.

UTS occurs when the only pharmacy you’ve found within a 20km radius that sells the only tampons you can use decides not to stock them any longer. Some lucky women may never suffer this affliction, and others may only have to confront it once or twice in their life, but if you’re anything like me you come to anticipate it on a monthly basis along with all the other joys of menstruation.

In my case UTS is caused by the increasing difficulty in finding stockists of Tampax Super Plus tampons (and yes I know that just gave you more information about my menstrual cycle than you were hoping for, but I promise whatever you’re imagining isn’t as bad as the reality often is. I hope that makes you feel better). For the last three years I’ve been UTS free as my local pharmacy has always had a supply of Tampax Super Plus on hand, sitting on the shelf gathering dust until I trundle in with my abnormal uterine bleeding every four weeks.  

It had been going so well. Where the supermarkets and corner stores had failed me, I could always rely on this one chemist to carry them. Once a month, as soon as my tits began to feel like watermelons, I’d duck in for my usual 30 pack of Nurofen Plus and two boxes of Super Plus. I’d go home, drug up, plug up and spend the next four days contemplating a hysterectomy. Too easy.

Yesterday all that changed. Standing in the feminine hygiene aisle desperately scanning the shelves, I felt myself relapsing. There were regular tampons, super tampons and light tampons (pfft, who uses those?!) There were organic cotton, fluro wrapped and easy twist open tampons. There were even slim ones, which I guess is good if the other styles make you look fat. But nowhere to be seen were the Tampax Super Plus tampons. Even worse, there wasn’t a space on the shelf where they should have been.  I knew where this was leading. Unavailable Tampon Syndrome.

Obviously my stunned expression was noted by the staff, because I was soon asked if I needed help. “Where are the Tampax Super Plus?” I asked in a way that I hoped disguised my alarm. “Oh, they’ve been discontinued by the manufacturer” said the guy serving me, a gay boy I know socially but not well enough for us to be totally relaxed discussing heavy periods. He was no doubt wishing he’d taken more notice of where I was standing when he offered his assistance, and desperate to cease discussing sanitary protection immediately. Clocking my look of disbelief, he followed up with “that’s solid information.” He was trying to act like he cared, but the curled lip and backwards step he took upon realising he was discussing things of a menstrual nature betrayed him, and I’m pretty sure as soon as I left he was texting all his friends about how close he came to actually having to deal with a period. Apparently there are some aspects of being a woman that even the campest man just doesn’t want to embrace. When he asked why I couldn’t just use the Super tampons I decided it was easier to leave than go in to the finer details of my flow with him, and frankly I was ready to suffocate him with a packet of overnight pads anyhow.  

In a total flap, I went home and panic bought $157.00 worth of tampons online from the only website I could find that had them in stock, and paid an additional $20.00 for urgent delivery. I know this seems like over reacting but panic buying before disasters is human nature, and trust me when I say that the 2011 Brisbane floods have nothing on the sort of flooding that can occur from my beaver dam. Eventually I contacted Proctor & Gamble to ask them for clarification, and received a reply assuring me that Tampax Super Plus were most definitely still being manufactured. I bloody well knew it.

I am not trying to be difficult, but to have to beg pharmacies to stock something that is essential is annoying at best. To be lied to about why they’re not stocking them is downright insulting. I don’t choose to buy Tampax Super Plus tampons because I get off on buying the biggest, most expensive tampon available; I have a medical condition that requires them. Of course I’d prefer to use the pretty little bullet shaped ones everyone stocks because they’re compact and easily hidden and come in bright colours, and I can buy the fucking things everywhere including petrol stations. Unfortunately, that is not how my body works.

I understand that Super Plus tampons will never be the bestselling item in the Tampax range, not every gal can be lucky enough to experience the sheer joy of a heavy period. But that doesn’t mean the women who require them cease to exist. And the most frustrating part of all of this isn’t the fact that they are so hard to buy. It is that on almost every occasion where I’ve enquired whether a pharmacy stocks them, a female assistant has said to me she would buy them too but she didn’t know they existed. It makes me wonder just how well Super Plus tampons would sell if women knew they were an option. Perhaps it’s time for the chemists of Australia to consider that a full range of tampons is slightly more important than a full range of Revlon nail polish?

As for the guy who told me they’d been discontinued? I can’t wait to drop a Tampax Super Plus in his drink next time I see him out. Just wait until he sees how much liquid those suckers can hold!

 

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Uncle Charlie

Heard the one about the drunk old aborigine and the blonde barmaid? It goes a bit like this:

I have a bar in a neighbourhood known for its eclectic mix of locals. Originally an Italian area that got a bit gritty with dosshouses and squatters, it’s now gone way past being gentrified and is one of the most expensive, sought after suburbs in which to live. Even so, there’s enough of the old incarnation to keep it a pretty interesting mix, and it’s close enough to the main nightclub area that there’s always the seedier element of city living hanging around the streets.

For the most part, I find the characters highly entertaining. I’ve seen hookers brawling in the middle of a traffic intersection, fixed in a turf war death match that resulted in one broken handbag, a ripped skirt and a bleeding nose; I’ve had a junkie who wanted to know if the reason I wouldn’t serve him was because he’d left his specs at home; I’ve watched a pregnant hooker get more clients than all the others; been robbed by ratty little kids whose getaway vehicle was a foot propelled scooter; overheard endless drug-addled conversations about needing to buy a packet of smokes; caught a drag queen in a Marge Simpson wig & eight inch heels pissing in my outdoor ashtray, and a 70 year old disabled tranny with rainbow hair, eye makeup that looks like he’s been attacked by toddlers wielding paint guns and an assortment of plastic beads around his neck tells me at least three times a day that he wants to take me home to his boudoir. I’ve seen more male genitalia in the last four years than I have the previous thirty-two years, and I’ve disturbed a prostitute giving a bloke a quick blow job between my wheelie bins. What can I say? It’s a romantic life. There is one character that stands out more than all the others though. His name is Uncle Charlie.

Most people know Charlie; the local police and social workers certainly know him. I first met him when he stumbled down the street and decided to perch on my window ledge with a crumpled cigarette and a Tooheys longneck, much to the consternation of the patrons already seated in that window. I went out to move him along, only for him to get me in a headlock and drag me halfway down the street. When I finally got out of his grasp, I’d lost a diamond hoop earring somewhere in his big, white beard. I never did get it back. It was a fairly dramatic introduction to him, but for some reason we’ve developed a kind of friendship despite it.

Charlie is in his late sixties, although he looks much older, with a massive mess of white hair and a scruffy white beard. If Santa Claus was indigenous and had been on an alcohol-fuelled bender for twenty years, he’d probably look like Uncle Charlie. Occasionally someone gives him a haircut and trims his beard, and he looks great. Handsome, even. I’ve noticed his shirts are generally pretty nice, well ironed and clean, although his jeans are always the pits. And he is always somewhere between very drunk and comatose.

Uncle Charlie’s been banned from every pub in the area, even the really dodgy one up the hill that’ll serve any old derelict. He can be a handful. He likes to shout and call passers-by “bastard cunts”, and he’s always pushing people to see how they’ll react to his presence. He used to cause me a few dramas too, but one night I caught a glimpse of something soft and funny in him and realised it was all a big act. I told him he was full of shit and should give it a rest. Just when I thought he was about to take a swing at me, he broke into an amazing smile and let out a huge belly laugh.

“Ahh, sista. You’re alright.”

He realised I wouldn’t put up with his bullshit, but he also knew I’d seen a bit further than his obnoxious behaviour normally allows.

That was a couple of years ago, and he’s never caused me any drama since. He visits fairly regularly, always at the end of a night when he wants a chat. And it always starts off the same.

“You gonna let me in, my friend?”

“Maybe Charlie, how drunk are you?”

“You being a racist cunt?”

“Don’t be a dickhead”

He laughs, comes in and shakes my hand. He’ll do his best to get a free beer out of me, but he has to pay like everyone else. Then we sit and talk.

Initially our conversations were nonsense, him rubbishing on about what he’d done during the day, and trying to shock me with stories I knew were bluster. Then a shift occurred. It was like I’d passed his test and was now to be trusted. One night he decided to tell me about his life and how he got to be a drunk, old bum. Bugger me if Uncle Charlie didn’t turn out to be one of the wisest, warmest, most thought provoking people I’ve ever spoken to.

Charlie’s been around. He’s travelled all over Australia, and can rattle the names of towns he’s passed through off the top of his head as though his brain wasn’t screwed from too much alcohol. He fell in love with a woman from somewhere in the Northern Rivers area, but stuffed that up by being a drunk. He had a brother he was very close to who died in a car accident, an event that became the catalyst for Charlie’s drinking. He never got over it. He has a huge scar down his stomach from where he tried to kill himself while driving drunk some time thereafter, and he’s got a bit of bone missing from his skull. I’ve felt it; it’s as disgusting as it sounds. He never tells me his stories looking for sympathy; they’re always relayed with a shrug and a “that’s life” kind of feeling. He tells me them simply because I’m listening.

But last time he was in, he really floored me. Bored with talking about himself (“why you gotta be so curious about me, woman?” he blasted when he was sick of my questions, and the answers he had to give) he turned his attention to my life.

“I been watchin’ you. You work too hard.”

“Oh, yeah. But I’m the boss. I’ve got to do it.”

“You workin’ for the man. Don’t do it.”

“Charlie, I’m the boss. I work for myself.”

“I know you the boss you stupid bitch, but you not workin’ for yourself. You not happy sista.”

He was right. It’s a complicated story and not one that needs retelling, but I do what I do out of obligation, and it doesn’t make me happy. Blinded by alcohol as he often is, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with his skills of perception. He’s seen enough to recognise a few things in people, and for all his drunken antics, he knows what he’s talking about. That night proved to me he deserves to have his wisdom heard. It was pure luck that Charlie broke through my prejudices and proved to be more than just another derelict I had to deal with, but he’s made me think about where I’m headed nonetheless.

He reckons he’s going to Darwin when the weather gets a bit warmer. I’m certain he’s talking rubbish, but on the off chance he’s not, I can honestly say I’ll miss the silly old ratbag. It can be a lonely life, being self-employed and working nights, knowing there’s no one to go home to. He’s provided me with decent company and a refreshing view of humanity on more than one occasion, and it does make me wonder just how much knowledge we miss out on as a society by discounting that people like him have anything of value to offer us.

Mostly though, I just shake my head in wonder at the anomaly that is Uncle Charlie. I always watch him as he trundles off home, zigzagging down the road. Even on the nights when he leaves pissed off that I won’t serve him because he’s too drunk, I am rewarded with a wave and a cheeky grin as he turns the corner. The man is too damn charming for his own good.

I suspect that’s half his problem.

by caz.

50 Shades of New Farm

Even though he wore suits tailored cheaply in Hong Kong, his business card said he was the Assistant to the Associate Director of Commercial Leasing, and I was impressed. Despite being engaged to the second oldest son of the best cosmetic surgeon in Brisbane, I hungered for him to fill the empty hours between Bootcamp and designing my own jewellery line.

I watched him make his way down James Street, greeting all the people he saw at every social gathering as though they hadn’t spoken in years, and I knew from his dilated pupils he was high on more than corporate success.

As I stood at Cru bar, trying to remember whether it was at a Fashion function, a Food & Fashion function, or a Fashion, Furniture & Food function I’d first noticed him, a familiar smell filled my nostrils. It was a mix of cigarette smoke and Bundy rum. ‘Private school boy’, I whispered to myself. I turned around and there he was, Johnathon, fresh from watching Australia vs. Wales at The QA.

Our eyes met and soon we were driving his 1 series BMW back to his Woolstore apartment.

As he opened the front door, I tried to remember what Lorna Jane had written on her blackboard that morning. Was it “I move, I nourish, I believe” or “I earn my chocolate one step at a time”? I was so confused. Oh, why could I not hear my idol’s words when I so desperately needed them?

I took a deep breath and reminded myself that, thanks to Bikram Yoga, I was more flexible than the girl in Lululemon’s window.

I stepped inside, knowing that if I managed to make him fall in love me, I’d be drinking gin with his mother and aunts at The Moreton Club in no time.