Will you accept this rose?
“Mate you’ve gotta start watching The Bachelorette!” is definitely not where I thought the conversation would lead when I caught up with a close friend for a beer on the weekend. He was hooked after witnessing a brain explosion from one of the contestants, allegedly an international male model, who came out with pearlers like, “I didn’t ask to be an international model,” before declaring, “I’m actually reasonably happy not to receive a rose tonight.”
“Imagine if she was impressed by that absolute flop and gave him a rose?” my friend quipped as he took a generous gulp from his stein. “You would be spewing if your daughter brought home a bloke like that!”
“Hahaha! Mate, I picked up a guy yesterday who is in exactly that situation,” I replied, putting down my glass to tell the story.
I had just wolfed down a classic Tiger pie from Harry’s Cafe’ De Wheels on Cowper Wharf Rd when my phone lit up.
Beep. Beep. Beep – Keithy, 1 minute – Woolloomooloo
I wiped the last of the mushy peas and golden flakes of pastry from my mouth and chin before returning to my car. Keithy was only a stone’s throw away at the strip of fine dining restaurants on Woolloomooloo Wharf. I cast one final look over this magical pocket of Sydney. To my right, I could see the orange sun dipping below the masts of the Navy ships. The last flickers of light danced on the tranquil, dark blue waters as thirsty locals and tourists poured into the harbourside bars. “Best city in the world,” I thought to myself as I started my engine.
The pickup point at Woolloomooloo Wharf is at the end of a taxi rank. I was becoming increasingly wary of taxi drivers following reports Uber drivers were being assaulted by organised gangs in Brisbane. My Dad had even suggested I purchase pepper spray for protection. I’m not so sure it’s as easy to find as he made out.
I crept slowly to the front of the Queue and locked my doors. Sucking back on a cigarette at the front of the taxi rank was Keithy. He acknowledged my arrival by nodding his head, before taking a few more lengthy drags of his cigarette. He flicked the semi-lit butt into the busy street before making his way to my car.
Keithy was a bull of a man. I had never seen a head that size. Enormous and perfectly round like a giant orange, his bald head rested between two cinder block shoulders. He defied basic anatomy. Where was his neck? He was short, about 5”7, and looked like he was smuggling a keg of lager beneath his brightly coloured Hawaiian shirt. Keithy was in his late forties and wasn’t in the best shape. He emitted a bright red glow, mainly from his head which was dripping with sweat on an unseasonably warm Spring evening.
“Ow are ya son?!” Keithy growled as he struggled into the front passengers side seat of my Volkswagen Polo. “You drivin ya f#!kn missus car are ya?” he said with a grin as he squirmed his way into a comfortable position.
Everyone knows a big Keithy, repugnant but loveable at the same time – an over the top caricature of bogan Australia in all its glory. “Watch this!” he announced, lowering his window.
“Oi Cabby!” he yelled at the taxi drivers enjoying a cigarette on the corner. “OI CABBY!!!!” he roared again. The taxi drivers turned to face my car as we careened past them. “Uber for life Buddyyyyyy! HAHAHA!” Keithy bellowed at the taxi drivers who had a look of utter shock on their faces.
So much for keeping a low profile I thought to myself as I mustered a fake laugh to appease Keithy, who was looking over at me for a reaction. “Ah well….. f#!k em!” he said as he struggled to secure his seat belt in its holder.
“Ow long ya been drivin for pal?” he asked, wiping at least a litre of sweat from his forehead and rubbing it into his jean shorts.
“Close to five months mate,” I replied. “What were you up to at the wharf this afternoon?”
“Mate ahhh have you been to that fu#!nnn China Doll joint?” he asked as he used a fifty dollar note to pick food from his teeth.
“Ahhh f#!k me! It was f#kn SEN-SATIONAL!” Keithy announced, throwing his head back to emphasise the word sensational.
“They do this caramelized f#!n pork belly. I’m tellin ya its better than crack. I was considerin orderin a few kilos of it and stuffin it in my pockets to take home,” he said, inspecting a piece of food on the end of his fifty dollar note before re-eating it.
“What was the occasion?” I enquired.
“Mate, ahhh it was my daughter’s engagement party,” Keithy replied a little flatly as he stared pensively across the harbour on our left.
“But she’s marrying a fu#kn soft co#k!” he said so abruptly I hit the brakes a little too hard.
“Whoa! Whoa! Ease up Schumacher ha ha ha!”, the sudden stop jolting him forward in his seat.
“I’m tellin ya, when I first met him the prick had a handshake like a wet fish.” Keithy held up his enormous hand which resembled the paw of an albino grizzly bear.
Keithy knew he had an audience now as I chuckled at his description of his future son in law’s pitiful handshake.
“And he’s bloody boring. He just spent that entire dinner talkin about f#!kn spreadsheets and stocks and blah blah blah…. A soggy Scotch finger in a weak cup of tea has more substance than that c#$t! I’ll tell ya that much!”
“Hahahaha!” I cackled. I couldn’t help it. Big Keithy had done me in.
“HAHAHAHAHA!” Keithy matched my laughter tenfold.
I was taking Keithy to a mates place in Waterloo to watch the footy grand final.
“Heya pal! Pull over here for a sec, I’m gonna grab a slab!” he said, pointing to a bottle shop at the Aurora Hotel near Central Station.
He emerged five minutes later with an ice-cold slab of Carlton Dry which he placed very carefully on my back seat.
We were just about to pull out onto Elizabeth Street when we were cut off by a cyclist.
“Get a load of this c#!t!” yelled Keithy, immediately lowering his window.
The cyclist in question wasn’t your classic middle-aged man in lycra. He was in his early twenties and was straight from the Hipster textbook. Complete with a man bun, long beard, and thick-rimmed glasses, he continued up Elizabeth Street. He was riding a tan coloured vintage bike, complete with a thatch basket attached to the front. The basket was full to the brim with an assortment of vegetables.
The cyclist veered to the far left-hand lane and Keithy seized his chance.
“Oi! John Butler ya c#!t!” Keithy barked at the cyclist who shot a quick glance over his shoulder at my car.
“You’re gonna cause a f#!kn accident!” he continued.
I looked over my right shoulder to see if I could overtake the cyclist and get Keithy and his temper far away from here. Dammit! I was blocked in by a bus.
The cyclist slowed down to see what all the yelling was about. Big mistake.
The lights at the corner of Elizabeth and Devonshire changed slowly from green to orange, to red…..the showdown between Keithy and the cyclist was now unavoidable.
“What’s your problem mate?” the cyclist asked, raising his eyebrows at Keithy who had turned from bright red to a deep, angry scarlet.
“My problem is you, wearing girls clothing and no helmet, cutting off cars as you go home to make vegetable f#!kn soup pal! That’s my f#!kn problem!” Keithy exploded, pointing aggressively out my window at the cyclist.
“Pfffffttt whatever hay!” replied the cyclist shaking his head. “Maybe you should get a bike champ, you look like you could do with the exercise.”
“YOU F#!KN WHAT!” Keithy roared, frantically undoing his seatbelt and opening his door.
The cyclist wasn’t waiting around to see what would happen. He jumped up onto the footpath and pedaled furiously up Devonshire Street.
I was sure Keithy was just trying to scare him. I didn’t think he would actually get out of the car, but before I had a chance to say a word Keithy was out of my car and chasing after the cyclist. I didn’t know what to do. I was stuck at the set of lights for what felt like an eternity. I expected Keithy to return any second, but he didn’t. I slowly turned up Devonshire Street and commenced my search for him.
I pulled over next to The Dove & Olive and tried calling the number Keithy had registered into the Uber app. The number rang out with no voicemail. Where on earth could he be? Had he stopped in at The Shakespeare for a schooner when he realised he couldn’t catch the cyclist?
There is no way a man that size could vanish into thin air. Maybe I had underestimated his fitness and he was in hot pursuit of the cyclist through Surry Hills. Surely not.
I waited out the front of the Dove & Olive for more than twenty minutes with no sign of Keithy. Fortunately on the Uber app, unlike taxis, the metre doesn’t rack up a massive bill when you aren’t moving. The fare is calculated more on the distance traveled, not the time spent in the car. Regardless, I didn’t want Keithy to end up with an unexpected bill when he wasn’t in the car, so I ended the trip.
I sat there scratching my head for a further fifteen minutes before driving off. As I looked over my shoulder to pull out from the curb I noticed Keithy’s case of Carlton Dry was still sitting in my back seat. That poor bastard I thought. Angry, thirsty and lost in the land of the hipster…. this wasn’t Keithy’s day.
I couldn’t help but think Keithy saw a little of his future son in law in that cyclist. Why else would he explode like that? Keithy was a man from a different generation and a different time. A time when men sank schooners and regaled stories of bar-room fights. A time where men wore King Gee’s and Flannos, not cardigans and V-necks.
Please share this article so we can help re-unite big Keithy with his case of Carlton Dry. Also, if you have seen or know Keithy please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . I will sleep better at night knowing the big fella is ok.