Category Archives: Not Losing my Mind, Yet.

Foreplay as Food

I have recently become a subscriber to the culinary producers of Marley Spoon.

Tonight, as the previous couple of nights, I prepared a meal that will become one of the best dishes my limited yet enthusiastic kitchen skills have produced.

However, I must reach a little further back to describe a story I read several days ago in which a man was being seduced by a desirable yet unattainable woman. Maybe not seduced, but certainly toyed with.

The man was making a meal for them both and described the food preparation process as foreplay.

First, he must imagine the recipe for this delicate seduction so his selection of ingredients was the first overture, much like a man would spy a prospective mate in a crowd and decide that a conquest was in order. He might ask her to share a drink or engage her in conversation, tickle her fancy, make her delicately sweat in anticipation of what might develop, as the dance of taste and texture slowly moves forward.

The preparation of the fresh and aromatic produce, sliced and marinated is the means to an end, the need to concentrate his efforts in skilfully but deliberately making certain the ingredients are masterfully set astride the chopping board as they await their own participation in the main event… as the first kiss and a promise of things to come.

Heating a pan and melting some butter to sear the protein is the next deliberate step in this story. Once the food has been committed to fire, the woman is in trouble because the man knows, beyond doubt, this is a dish that will seal her conquest. The plating is not merely a small part however and the man knows that if he misses a single step, the process will be flawed and he cannot allow this to happen.

So, if the selection of ingredients, his skilful preparation and the deft delivery at the table is the foreplay, then watching her melt with the acknowledgment of his easy grasp of superb food is sublimely and surely, the act of penetration, her senses sated with the pleasure and spent with her contentment.

Later, while she is helping herself to the other parts of the cook who has mixed her into a sweet and delicious desert, the man decides to commiserate the fact that tonight he dined alone, yet hopes that soon enough he would have another chance to make the same meal for anybody that shows even the slightest interest in his Pea and Ham soup.

This Bloke. A story about a great mate.

This Bloke.

This bloke has been in my life for 42 years.

We probably didn’t think when we met, that we would go on to know each other for the next few weeks, let alone the next 42 years.

From pretty much the moment we met, we had each others back, although when we met, it could have gone in the opposite direction. We met because of a turf war between our respective motorcycle gangs. Sounds heavy?

In those days it was.

There was a proliferation of motorcycle gangs in those early days in Brisbane. There were the infamous major clubs, some of them brand new and there were a lot of neighbourhood clubs. We were in our separate neighbourhood clubs and the word had spread that we were about to engage each other in a bloody war. A turf war, a battle of who drinks at which pubs.

The threat was so real that both gangs thought it might actually happen and neither clubs wanted that. We all loved our pubs and we loved other pubs in other locations as well…we were great lovers of pubs in those days. We liked riding to them with 30 or so mates and we loved spending whole days and nights in the pubs so neither gang really wanted that to end.

So Paulys brother, Gary “Billy Jack” Howes who was the President/Spokesman/Leader of the Confederates MC, decided we should come together as a group of concerned citizens and discuss this alarming turn of events. We organised a meeting at the Newnham Hotel in outer Brisbane. The pub had set aside a function room with a massive meeting room table and chairs and we all met there at this regional save-our-pubs and clubs meeting and that’s how this friendship began.  These days it might be called “dispute resolution” but in those days that’s exactly what we did, we had a dispute resolution meeting. We were starting a trend.

Pauly and me, we sat next to each other at this meeting and that evening, our 42 years long relationship started. We became mates, brothers, riding buddies, drinking partners, house mates, workmates and lovers of all things to do with pubs, girls in pubs and motorcycles…

We weren’t even 20 years old at the time, so the prime of our lives was still years ahead.

I didn’t see Pauly after that meeting until a few months later, when be both turned up at trade school on the same day. We were both apprentice carpenters and fate had decided that we would be scheduled to start trade school on the same day, in the same class.

Trade school in those days was the thing that got in the way of those long main-bar sessions at the pub near the college. Looking back at our trade school days, we must have been surrounded by very patient and very forgiving tutors.

The bike gang era was an interesting time for everyone involved. We had great times, and we had trying times. Some of our brothers died on the road, some died on the end of a needle, others just moved on. Some drifted out of the motorcycle scene and flourished, others stayed and flourished. We led exciting and exhilarating lives. The drink driving rules and the police in the old days weren’t anything like they are now.

We managed to get away with a lot of nefarious things. Nothing with any criminality involved, just risky business and plenty of booze and hooch. We were at times unruly, irreverent and unwashed but as Pauly was always quick to point out, we looked after each other and never mistreated our girlfriends. We did however, mistreat our livers and our bikes and our bank accounts…

I left Brisbane immediately after I finished my apprenticeship. I was twenty years old.

I took my final pay, bought a Kawasaki 900 and left for Melbourne within a week. It wasn’t long after I arrived here that Pauly came down for a visit and he didn’t go home for a couple of years…

The motorcycle scene was alive and well in our neighbourhood in Melbourne and we were both heartily embraced by the locals and we went on to form excellent friendships with people that are still in both of our lives.

These days Pauly is the most significant bloke I know. Because of his unwavering friendship, he is one of the few people that I can speak to about everything. We spend a lot of time in each others company and our separate personal histories are intertwined with great experiences tempered by caution, good luck and sage advice.

This bloke inspires me to do greater things. He is the one who takes the first step, breaks the new ground and sets a standard to aspire to.

Pauly was the one who recently broke the fog of despondency and bought a new house. I had been wavering between staying a renter and splurging on a massive mortgage. Pauly bought a smaller more affordable home in a cheaper suburb. I saw the wisdom of this and not long after, bought my own home, breaking the 4 years old morass of failed marriage and lost fortune.

Now we’re both renovating at our leisure instead of working like maggots to service huge debt.

Pauly decided to answer a call for Judges on the Housing Industry Association, Home of the Year panel. He was awarded the position and when his co-judge retired, he invited me to join the panel. That was about 6 years ago. Our time on the panel together has been awesome, incredible and we’re the luckiest two bastards in the room as far as we’re concerned.

Pauly called me once and said he’d just put a flag pole in his front yard… Damn, I’ve always wanted to put a flag pole in my front yard and if Pauly is patriotic enough, then I am too. Nothing controversial has happened other than a feeling of acknowledgement of our history. I probably would never have done such a significant thing unless Pauly did it first.

Pauly once said to me that a woman should come into your life to improve it, to enhance our lives. He said to ask yourself “what does this woman offer that will make my life better?”. We have both been through failed marriages so this was like a religious conversion to me, suddenly the mystery was solved…

We were working on a small project together a few years ago and Pauly said one morning, that he was going to make a play for this woman he was doing a renovation for. He had his mind made up and even though he thought he might have been aiming a bit high, he was in no doubt that this woman would be his before the week was out… That determination is typical of Pauly. No doubt, and that lovely woman, is still by his side.

We talk most about our next steps in life or about the results of past decisions, we discuss everything that a couple of old farts who have a 42 years old relationship talk about.

We talk about our own children; we are immensely proud of all of them. We congratulate ourselves often, that of all the things we have accomplished in our lives, our offspring are the most beautiful. The people that we are so proud of are the ones we’re responsible for, the ones we brought into the world.

Pauly is never short of a piece of quiet advice or an anecdote that explains a small mystery. Sometimes I don’t think about it until much later, but I can usually relate back to a conversation that we’ve had in the recent past.

Pauly can always add that one small piece of advice that will help a decision easier to make or seem more practical or just plain practical advice and we all need good advice.

I’m exceedingly proud to know Pauly and I’m looking forward to growing older with him.

We both still have plenty to offer and Pauly will continue to be my muse, my advisor, my critic.

Many people are so proud to call This Bloke, their mate.

He’s my mate and I’m a very lucky bloke.