In November I spent two weeks in Samoa on a clinical placement for an unnamed university, who will remain as such because I’m paranoid that naming it will see me expelled. And I need this fucking degree: one evening, I was chatting to two students—Copper, an ex-detective; and Vag, a fellow enrolled nurse. Copper was telling an amusing story about a local meth-head, a guy with a delightful and ironic name that I’ll pretend was ‘Whoopsie’. One evening, high on meth, Whoopsie gouged out his eyes.
When Copper arrived, his eyeballs were hanging by socket strings, one on his cheek, one languidly brushing his chest.
Now, there are two clues here that I have no fucking idea about nursing. The first is that I used the phrase ‘socket strings’ instead of the correct term—
—which I couldn’t find because apparently typing ‘how are your fuckin eyes attached to the head’ isn’t enough for Google scholar to work with. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word head. Or dropped the ‘g’. Or maybe I should have just called them something benign, something like ‘eye muscles’ and moved on.
Although, I kind of like ‘socket strings’. If nothing else, it paints a picture.
Anyway, the second clue comes from the rest of the story, which begins with the question that I blurted out: “Shit. Could he still see?”
Vag giggled from across the table and held her hands up in front of her eyes, moving them around, mimicking searching for something.
“Yes! Like Aah! Real Monsters.”
I’m studying nursing, by the way. Remember that. Nursing. Not Nickelodeon.
“No, I don’t think he could see anything,” Copper said.
So, ladies and gentleman, sit back with a glass of wine and take comfort in the fact that when I’m qualified, climate change won’t be the scariest thing happening on the planet. My response wasn’t, “Of course” or “I was only kidding”, or “Why didn’t they just put them in milk and send him to the optometrist?” or any of the other responses that could redeem the 57 points I’d just lost from my IQ. No. It was “Oh”, as in: ‘Hmm, that’s surprising.’
At our farewell drinks on the last day of placement I was sitting next to Vag, marvelling at how the lower half of her face had transformed into a vagina. I’m not entirely sure how she does this little party trick. It involves pulling at lips so they resemble, um, lips. It’s uncanny. We stared at her mouth as a collective. Silent. Reverent. It was compelling, yet disquieting. Disturbing. Just like an actual vagina.
But also, I’m sorry, feminism. I shouldn’t have said that…beef curtains is the correct term to use, isn’t it? It’s more gender neutral. Moist beef curtains.
One of the girls playfully smacked me on the bum as I got off the bus, causing me to shriek and half-fall through the doors.
“Someone touched me on the bum!”
I landed beside Gronk, our token male student, ever-present at the doors to ‘help’ the girls disembark. Old Gronk’s an odd one: he’s an upper-middle aged, self-proclaimed father figure/ creepy stepdad with a penchant for herding people like cattle and boring everyone shitless. Oh, and molestation: that helping hand of his usually came with a sneaky grope. He was our very own Don Burke.
Old Gronk really liked Samoa, so I propose that we all chip in and send him over there for good.
“Give him a home among the palm trees. With lots of arse, please…”
Until this evening I’d not had a problem with him. I felt sorry for him, at first. He’d spoken to me about his recent divorce at a length best described as ‘uncomfortable’—which wasn’t one of the reasons his wife gave him when she left, incidentally. And he came off as someone trying way too hard. Desperation and despair wafted from him. Like pesticide.
And, as I steadied myself and adjusted the fabric hibiscus in my hair, Old Gronk snaked his hand around and he
Sorry, he booped me on the bum. At least he didn’t give me a hooroo. Or go anywhere near my edges. And nobody’s grass was cut.
Gronk and I both learnt a lesson after this. Old Gronk learnt that while younger girls will just quietly avoid you when you touch them, a thirty four year old psych nurse will backhand you across the upper arm and screech, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?!”
I hit him again for good measure. “No, Gronk!” Thwack. “That’s a very bad Gronk!” Thwack. “You don’t,” thwack, “touch,” thwack, “people on the arse!” Thwack. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” Thwack. “Keep your fucking hands to yourself.”
And I learnt that the anarchic, fist-in-the-air, punk-rock anger I’d cultivated in my teens is still hanging around like a bad case of the flu.
And I also learnt that I could now start a social media campaign of my very own:
I had my bum fondled in a tropical paradise by a gronk.
Gronk later tried to justify his behaviour, approaching me, frightened, with his palms raised—the sort of look you give a menopausal woman right before you take the cheesecake away.
Ah! Again! Feminism, I…shit. I really don’t…I mean—Sigh. Maybe it’s all the Burke’s Backyard references. They’re making me a bit…cheeky.
“Peace,” Gronk said.
I glared at him. “Don’t touch people on the arse, man. It’s not cool.”
“But you asked me to. You said ‘someone touch me on the bum.’”
“No I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did.”
“I know what I said, Gronk. I said ‘someone touched me on the bum’ because one of the girls did. It was a statement, not an invitation.”
“No, you asked for someone to touch your bum so I did.” He shrugged, as if this was totally normal.
And it’s not, by the way.
I know this, because if it was, every single man on the planet would introduce himself thusly: ‘Hello, I’m Eugene. You may touch the penis now. Please and thank you. Good morning, Australia.’
“I said touched.”
He shook his head, an inane smile on his face. It would seem that Old Gronk had gotten himself into a bit of a downstairs mix-up. Someone get him a shoeful of Bailey’s.
“Look Gronk, I’m not arguing with you about what I know I said.”
He shrugged. “I know what I heard.”
He heard that correctly, because he avoided me for the next three days.
I was on the dance floor when the Y-chromosome approached. Trying to flirt, I asked him where he was from—New Zealand—and what brought him to Samoa.
“Yeah. My dad just died.”
His dad wasn’t the only thing to go: the conversation soon perished, as well. Potentially for the best: he was wearing a fedora and I’m convinced that fedoras are cursed. I wore one, once. Carrie Fisher died six hours later.
Yep. That was me. My vanity and I? We killed Princess Leia.
Anyway, there was another fellow I had my eye on that night—a friend of our driver. He was this big, happy, gentle, big, beautiful, big Samoan…giant. I’d met him the previous week when we went out, chatted for a bit, and not given it much thought. But tonight?
“Imma fuck that,” I assertively slurred to Consuela.
There was one small problem with this. After my big declaration I approached him, stared at him for a few seconds longer than what was entirely appropriate, got stage fright, then scampered back to Consuela. “Wait…how do I fuck him?”
Consuela gave me the sort of look that she used to give the GoPro before she turned it around to use it.
“Well, CC,” Consuela began, “the man inserts his—”
“No, I mean I want to fuck him but I don’t know how!”
So pretty…so dumb—I’d forgotten that when you have a vagina, all you have to do is just, well, ask: ‘Hello, would you like to have sex with me?’
You can even add the optional ‘please’ if it’s been a while. Or if you’re into that.
My style? It’s sophisticated. I tend to just drunkenly lunge forward and start kissing someone. It’s a form of mouth rape, I suppose, but it worked for me once when I was twenty one, so I’ve just run with it. The last guy I hooked up with was sitting beside me at our local pub when I abruptly downed my beer and pounced on him. Before he could say ‘metoo’, I’d climbed onto his chair, straddling him like a gawky manatee, and remained there, attached at the mouth, until the bartender squirted us with water from the post-mix gun to seperate us like two mewling cats. Then we went back to my place and I dithered on the street, fretting about the lamb stew that I’d left broiling away in the slow cooker because a night of drinking with friends was more important than not burning my apartment down, and I didn’t want to be ‘the creepy old lady whose house smells like stew’. Especially when it already smelt of corruption. And Sodom and Gomorrah. But I could never get those smells out of the carpet so I just had to pretend they didn’t exist, like perpetually flatulent flatmates.
And I never did shag this cute Samoan man, I just took an awkward selfie with him and Consuela and posted it to Instagram with the hashtag #IwanttofuckhimbutIdontknowhow, then tortured those poor girls for the rest of the night after he left.
“Ugh! I really wanted to fuck him, you know.”
“Yes, CC. We know. The bartender knows. The bouncer knows. The hygiene bin in the ladies toilet knows. Everybody knows. Except him. Because you were too much of a pussy to tell him.”
Chariot, our driver, had just left to take one of the girls, Dengue, home. Dengue wasn’t drinking—she’d become unwell a few days earlier. So unwell that experiencing the Samoan hospital system first hand became an absolute necessity. She wound up in the Emergency Department, clutching an empty bucket of Cadbury Celebrations that the nurse had thrust at her because hospital supplies in a Samoan ED evidently don’t stretch to vom-bags or spew-bowls. I think it was empty, anyway. Maybe there were a few Turkish Delights left—because there always are—but vomit just makes those more palatable.
Anyway because Dengue is quite resilient (Ha! See what I did there?), she came out with us despite this little set back, her hospital ID band almost still intact. She avoided alcohol, amusing herself with the behaviour of us drunken tits for several hours before Chariot took her home.
I make this point because I want to preface these next events with the assurance that Samoan men are, generally, quite respectful of women. When out with Chariot, we were safe. That cute-man-that-I-never-fucked explained it, and I want to put this in a special quote to make him sound wise; like a ginormous Yoda.
“When you’re with Chariot, men won’t harass you. It’s a respect thing. You’re with him, they like him, you’re off limits.”
This was both good news and bad.
Good because, hey, safety.
Bad because a few of us, including Mama Coco—who had spent hours tearing the shit out of the dance floor like an absolute boss—had responded with: “No, no! They can harass us a little! It’s okay.”
Anyway, Chariot and Dengue left. Dapto went to the bar. A guy started chatting to her. He bought her a drink. Fifteen minutes later, we saw her lurching across the club, escorted by Chariot, heading for the van.
Not knowing what had happened, we figured that she’d drank too much, so we shrugged and kept dancing. A few hours later we decided to head back with a quick stop at McDonald’s.
Now, my memories of the evening are hazy and I don’t really recall how the conversation started, but I do know that I chipped in, “I’d fuck Dapto.”
I think I yelled it, actually.
And I don’t even know if it was congruent with what people were saying. Maybe I just blurted it out like the ‘Could he still see?’ comment. Maybe it was: “I’d fuck Dapto. Can she can see? Is she blind? DO BLIND PEOPLE HAVE SEX? I WANT TO FUCK DAPTO!”
The Joker and Coco Mama agreed.
“Yeah, I’d do Dapto.”
“Yes! I would as well.”
And, before long, as one objectifying collective, the van deemed Dapto fuckable.
“You know what we should do?” The Joker said. “We should buy her a cheeseburger and tell her that we’d all have sex with her. That’d be really nice, you know?”
She said this as if it was completely normal behaviour.
And it’s not.
Because if it were: ‘Hello, I’m Eugene. Here’s a cheeseburger. Please have sex with me.’
I only say that because I’m a little bummed the cheeseburger comment wasn’t mine. I nearly claimed it for the blog, because it’s the type of unexpectedly amazing nonsense that I sometimes sprout when drunk, but The Joker assured me that it was her idea, saying, “No, no. That was all me. I had a goal, and I was running towards it.”
Everyone agreed that it was a good idea, we spent two bucks on Dapto, and took our bounty home.
Dapto and Dengue were asleep when we burst in, grappling with each other for the burger and running towards the bed.
“Dapto! Dapto! Hello! We bought you a cheeseburger and wanted to let you know that we’d all have sex with you!”
As this was said, Dapto sat bolt upright in bed, looking pained. She glanced at our earnest faces, vaulted across the room, hung her head over the balcony, and violently retched. I watched awkwardly, wondering if this was the right time to lunge at her.
But it turns out that poor Dapto got roofied at the club and was now sicker than a Munchausen child. We were drunk and didn’t really appreciate the brevity of this, so we dawdled, trying to convey that everyone in the van said they’d have sex with her. Why wasn’t this getting a reaction? I mean, even the guy who gave you a roofie wanted you! You’re hot stuff, girl! Work that shit! And eat your cheeseburger before it gets cold.
Also—a roofie? Really, Samoa? We said harass us ‘a little’. Get it right.
Eventually, Dengue acted like the adult that none of us could manage to be and ordered us out. We scattered like cockroaches, suitably chastened, leaving half eaten cheeseburgers behind in our wake.
A goodbye is like a trip to the dentist for me, and after clearing customs at Sydney airport I scattered like a cockroach once again. I had to.
To skirt the mawkish for a moment: before leaving for Samoa, I had what the hippy-dippy tarot-reading freak in me is calling a “Tower moment”. See, The Tower is the card that comes up to signify chaos: change that we’ve been resisting, but has to come, so when it does, it’s unpleasant. Your ivory towers in the sky collapse, leaving you screeching in the flotsam like a menopausal woman after the air-conditioning gets switched off.
Feminism: that’s the last one. I promise.
When moments like these happen and leave you sleeping on your parents dog-hair smothered couch, wondering why MTV Cribs aren’t calling you about your mad new pad; they suck. I’m not whinging, because this type of shit is just the bushfire that clears away the brush for new growth, and you are generally okay after the smoke clears. I, however, was lucky enough to jet-off to a tropical paradise six days after my inferno, spending a fortnight with a stupendous group of ladies who made me laugh my arse off with frightening regularity, albeit with not enough to wear it down to a nub before Old Gronk could touch it. So I was okay much sooner than I would have been had I not met them.
A tarot card that comes after The Tower is The Moon, which was, coincidentally, one of the many Mighty Boosh skits that The Joker used to quote for our entertainment. And Consuela hilariously bastardised a quote from Dear John when we were watching the sunrise from the bus on our way to Savai’i:
“Did you know girls, that when you hold your thumb up to the moon, no matter where you are in the world, no matter where it is in the sky, no matter that time it is, just hold up your thumb…up to the sky…and it will always…
Look bigger than the moon.”
So the moon holds special Samoan significance for me now. Well it doesn’t, but I like how serendipitous it all sounds. It’s a neat little bow on the blog.
Anyway, considering all of this, what was I supposed to say to them at the airport before I left? “Thank you”? “Goodbye”?! Jesus. That’s a nightmare. Even for an awkward introvert. You can’t say that. You have to disappear, then cry in the car on the way home, wailing the incongruent phrase, “I had such an amazing time! Everyone was awesome! I had so much fu-huh-hunnnnnnnnn.”
So I’m writing them 3000 words that will hopefully honour our time abroad. And, four hundred night-duty/drunken-night-out-snapchat-selfies, a hundred meme tags, and seventy seven messenger GIFs later, we’re planning on hooking up again for Consuela’s birthday in January. Bring that shit on like The Moon. The full moon, that is, not the half moon, I mean he’s alright, but…