Dating Stories: The Saddest Story Lady

Often before a gig I hear people say they’ve practiced their new material on their partner, just to check it wasn’t shit first. I don’t have a partner. As I approach forty I know that’s when most divorces happen, so, fingers crossed.

My date doesn’t have to be divorced. Maybe I can meet someone who’s just been cheated-on a lot, or who’s husband’s died. Maybe. Not all three. I don’t think I have the emotional reserves to handle someone who’s suffered all three.

I mean, the best I could sympathise with is this time Mum drove over my pet snail, and she replaced it with one from the garden. I could tell it wasn’t my Sluggy. I told Mum and she said it was, and I said it wasn’t, and she said it fucking was and if I kept this up she’d put me up for adoption.

She often said that.

She never did, but it didn’t make the feeling feel less real.

If I told a date all that, I don’t think I’d get a second date.

Thinking about it, it wouldn’t be so bad to met someone who had all three happen. In the order that someone was cheating on them, and they divorced them, and that person died.

I’d be okay with that.

That’ll be a happy ending.

In the meantime I’ll try new material on audiences. It might be shit. They might still laugh, and that’ll be good for them.

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Dating Stories: The Birthday Lady

It was my birthday last week. At 4:30 in the morning Mum poked me awake with a stick.

She said, “Where’s my present?”

I said, “Oh, yeah, ah, Mum, last night I went on a date, and it was her birthday soon, and she told me her mum was buying her something. She said, ‘That’s normal’. She said, ‘Nobody does it the other way around’.”

Mum said, “Don’t believe what dates tell you. Remember, ‘You’re such as nice guy’ means ‘You’re dead-shit boring’, and ‘I’ll be in touch’ means ‘I don’t want to hear from you again’.”

I said to Mum, “But, you’ve never bought me a present in your birthday.”

Mum said, “I gave you the greatest gift of all. Life. What have you given me?”

I said, “Last year I gave you a bottle of gin.”

Mum said, “The year before that?”

I said, “It’s not all my fault. Vodka and gin are in the same aisle. They’re both clear. I’m sorry.”

Mum said, “I had to choke down that vodka with a bottle of Coke. Gin doesn’t even need Coke.”

I gave Mum a handbag with a bottle of gin in it. She gave me back the handbag. I keep socks in it.

I texted my date. She said I was really nice and that she’ll be in touch.

I hear she’s dating a fishmonger. Fish is really healthy. A good source of omega-3.

So that’s good for her.

Stupid Western Story

The year’s 1876. Old Grandma Jones is washing dishes in the gutter. We tell her not to. It’s dangerous up there. Carrying hot water up a ladder’s not safe, and all the suds just run away down the drain pipe. She doesn’t get a good lather, but she squeals at us if we try and stop her.

I remember the day clearly because it was the first time I wore my lucky hat, plus my mother and father were killed, and my two sisters. I was also wearing that hat when the fire station burnt down, and the year there was no crop for harvest, and the time my uncle got ran over by a stage coach. Come to think of it, I shouldn’t wear that hat so much.

I’ve gone and given away the ending, ‘cause what happen next was Boss Fitzgerald swanned into town. Man, that’s quite a sight. Most of us rode horses. Imagine a 300 pound, six-foot man with a full beard and a six shooter strapped to each side riding a swan, tugging its elongated neck to and fro down the main street. You got to hand it to that swan. Man, that was some swan.

He comes in and shoots to death my mother and father and two sisters, without so much as a word of thanks, and then swans back out of town. If I wasn’t holding the ladder for Grandma Jones to I’d be shot through too.

I guess in some ways, that really was a lucky hat.

Dating Stories: The Sweety Names Lady

I’ve never had a girlfriend, or partner. I think if I do I’ll use some sort of nickname for her. I’m not an overly formal guy. I’m not one who’d say, “Hello this is my friend, Margaret.”

“This is my partner, Margaret.”

“This is my fiancé, Margret.”

“This is my wife, Margaret.”

“Dearly beloved, we are here to mourn the passing of Margaret.”

Never Maggie.

I’d be Maggie straight away.

I couldn’t use a standard nickname though.

I’m not a “Babe,” kind of guy.

“Hey Babe.”

Yuck.

“I’ll just run it past the Ministry of War and Finance. He, he, he.”

No. I don’t want to be that kind of fuck wit.

“Savings account? More like spendings. He, he, he, he.”

Fuck wit.

No. I’ll come up with some name. Not Snook’ems.

I don’t know what. I haven’t meet her yet.

Mum said, “You’re never going to meet someone if you’re not going to call them by their name.”

I said, “I will at first. I just assume our relationship will evolve.”

She said, “Yeah, eventually you’ll put her off. Why don’t you just say ‘Hello Francis, nice to meet you, do you mind if I call you Francis?’”

I said, “I knew someone named Francis. We called him Franger.“

Mum said, “No-one should be called Franger. It sounds like I’m calling them Condom-head.”

Franger was okay with it. He meet a nice lady. She was named Dolorous. I can’t remember what nickname she had.

Anyway, they’re happily married and I never see them again. So that’s good for them. A happy ending.

Dating Stories: The HR Lady

I had to tell Doug at work not to flick me in the nuts.

He said, “We do it all the time at the cricket club.”

I said, “I don’t care.”

He said, “You can flick me in the…”

I said, “I don’t want to. It’s not on my to do list.”

Somebody heard and we had to see HR.

She said, “It’s lucky it’s not sexual harassment.”

Doug said, “I don’t want to fuck him.”

Which hurt my feelings. Just the part of my brain that wonders if I would succeed being homosexual.

Doug said he wouldn’t flick my nuts again, but he didn’t mean it. He thought that was political correctness gone mad. He did it again when we got downstairs.

His girlfriend came into work and I said, “Hey, mate, what if I offered to flick Christine in the vag?”

I got sent to HR for that. Apparently suggesting to a staff member that I should touch up their partner’s vaginal area is not company policy.

Mum said, “I’m surprised you know where a vagina is.”

I said, “I do read books.”

She said, “You’d learn a lot more from watching porn.”

I did have to watch a video online. It was a three hour tutorial about what parts of the body it’s okay to touch while in the work place. It’s mostly the hands. And head if something is stuck here.

Doug broke up with Christine. So she’s not touching his nutsack anymore.

He’s now going out with Suzan the HR lady. So that’s good for them.

Laborastory: Dom Perignon Story

This was read at Laborastory on October 4, 2017. It is written as a script, so the spelling errors and grammar don’t matter. I haven’t bothered to fix them either ’cause I don’t have time and this is unpaid anyway. For more on Laborastory visit https://thelaborastory.com/

Imagine you’re in the French wine region of Champagne. Surrounded by decadence a vineyard owner holds a glass of wine, and they mutter, as all Champagne owners did in the early 1600s, (now I don’t know much French but I’ll use one word here, see if you can pick what it means).

“Where the merde did these bubbles come from, and how the merde do I get rid of them!?” (merde is french for shit)

Of all the massive embarrassments in wine, none are matched for reversal of fortune as the story of Champagne.

For hundreds of years Champagne was a framing area. Then someone got the big idea that they could compete with Burgundy and takeover the table wine market. They’re closer to Paris, and being only a little bit further north shouldn’t make much difference to growing conditions. As a result, Champagne was planted to pinot noir and chardonnay, the main grapes of Burgundy, and production was set to increase.

Things were going okay. The bubbles that Champagne is famous for today were not quite evident early on. Oxidative handling was releasing the Co2 gas, as wine was stored and transported in drums and vessels that were sealed by loose rags and irregular cork plugs.

Then bottles started to get used as a quality control, and these weren’t great bottles. Have you seen wicker baskets around bottles of Chianti, the Italian wine? That’s how they used to hold fragile glass together, and with better corks, gas was now being trapped inside and bottles began to explode.

This was an OH&S disaster.

In one year up to 50% of wine was lost to exploding bottles, and if this wasn’t bad enough, bubbles were a known sign of poor wine making. Something had gone terribly wrong and needed to be fixed.

Enter Dom Perignon.

Born Perrie Perignon (1638), and as far as names go it’s better than Tom Tomlinson, but not as funny as Neville Neville. Perrie’s father was a local town clerk who’s family owned vineyards. At the age of eighteen Perrie joined an Abby to begin life as a Benedictine monk. Those are the ones that wear hooded robes, don’t talk much, work long hours, and are self-sufficient.

The self-sufficient part is very important. It is why the monks ran a vineyard, and why the quality of their wine was crucial to their survival. In 1668, when Perrie was 30, he was sent to manage Abbaye Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers. He had to oversee everything, the other monks, land renters, and wine production. He was the general manager. The Dominus. The Dom.

He got the job “on account of the purity of his taste and the soundness of his head”, which translates that he could drink a lot of booze and not go whooo. You know, he was a keg on legs, and knew plenty about the drink.

And he really did.

Each vineyard is different, and Dom Perignon could identify the farm of each grape from the quality of the fruit. He would also blend fruit from different vineyards to make a seamless wine. A process now known as assemblage, to produce a cuvee.

The Dom had his favourite vineyards, and to make his wine better, Perrie implemented stringent protocols on harvesting and pruning. Apparently he was stressful to work for. Perrie Perignon was exacting. The kind of boss you wouldn’t work for unless you had to. And yes, the monks in the Abby had to work there.

One of the things the Dom did was to remove foot treading. Now, the purpose of foot-treading is to softly break grape skins and mix the must. You get in a big tub with your mates, have a smoke, a glass of wine, and walk along in a row singing songs. Smoke, drink, sing, smoke, drink, sing. It’s romantic, communal and modern day winemakers hate it. You can imagine all the impurities. Fermentation gets rid of harmful bacteria, but it’s not a good starting point.

Either the Dom stopped this to prevent his monks having fun, or because he didn’t want his sweaty and dirty monks mixing in the juice. Regardless, the exacting Dom devised a paddled press to split the grapes in a more sterile environment, and this practice has been modified and adopted the world over. This is the 1670s, by the way. He’s reducing staff long before automated checkouts.

With improvements in harvest, blending, and wine purity, Perrie Perignon was able to double the sale price of Champagne wine. His name became surnomous with excellence, mistaken as an exceptional vineyard rather than a winemaker, and his wine was favoured in the court of Louis the Fourteenth, King of France. Importantly he had reduced the bubbles. Almost eradicated them.

But the problem Perignon was working against was this. Yeast eats sugar, breaking it into alcohol and carbon dioxide – this is fermentation. To be fair it wasn’t understood until 1857 when Louis Pasteur discovered yeast. Before this it was even considered a magical gift of gods. What’s important here, is that yeast likes temperatures of around 20 digress centigrade, and it goes dormant in cold weather.

Since Champagne is to the north of Burgundy, and gets colder earlier, what was happening, was during vintage the yeast on grape skins were eating the grape sugar, making carbon dioxide, and then going dormant as the weather got cold, the vat of wine would stop bubbling, assumed to be finished, get bottled, shipped, and in a warmer temperature the yeast would wake up and start to eat again.

This second fermentation was happening within a trapped vessel, and causing problems. Dom Perignon didn’t fully understand this. What he did was devise ways around it, trying to minimise a natural process, even avoid it.

Well, not avoid. What he did was find ways to limit/control the bubbles and make a better drink. People didn’t mind the fizz so much. The big issue was bottles exploding in their hands and corks flying into their eye sockets.

If you wanted fizz, there was already a bonified scientist for that. Dom Perignon started work in 1668, but in 1662 Christopher Merrett, a founding member of the Royal Society in England, a bottle making enthusiast, and a very stubborn academic, presented a paper on how to purposefully put bubbles into wine. Merrett showed that adding sugar to wine and closing the seal could make bubbles. It is a process called capitalisation. It is what Champagne houses do today to ensure a fizz.

Perignon would have been aware of this, but he didn’t want to add bubbles, he wanted to remove them. What made matters worse was that glass production was improving. In the early 1700s stronger bottles that Merret was involved in were available. These could withstand the pressure of the secondary fermentation, and since The Dom had developed a capsule to prevent cork firing out (which is the metal cage you see today), if you add the two, you get wine with more uncontrollable fizz.

In 1715 Dom Perignon died, a blind man still making wine by taste. Random extra fizzy wine were getting to the market, and soon a revolution came to overthrow the King. Champagne was once again on the outer. It went though some lean times.

By 1821 the Abby that the Dom had worked in was near financial ruin. Because the fizz was too hard to fight against they used it as a marking difference, and the Abby promoted the Dom as an inventor (which he was), and a discover of making better wine (which he was), and created the quote “Come quickly, I’m drinking the stars” (which he never said) as a tribute to the local legend, and to help sell some of the bubbling merde.

It wasn’t until the late 1880s that sparkling Champagne was being produced with intended consistency, and the myth of the Dom was used again. Mineral baths and a gin with tonic water could be seen as healthy at the time, why not Champagne with its bubbles. After all it is an “all-round remedy, good against depression, appendicitis, and typhoid.” And it followed logically that the French would use Champagne to improve the courage of troops in World War One.

Because nothing says courage like drunk men firing guns (cheese eating surrender monkeys).

Later the Dom was used to promote fizz in America at the end of prohibition. This time there was a claim of a 250th anniversary of the Champagne invention, highlighting the historic link with French Royalty, and Dom Perignon’s name became the brand of a high price wine. All this advanced Champagne as a luxury item devised by a pious monk that makes you happy.

Today bubbles are sprayed at celebrations. You don’t hold back on the stuff. Who cares if you break a few bottles. Let’s party.

In fact you could imagine a modern Champagne owner, surrounded by decadence, holding up a glass and saying, “We love the merde out of these bubbles. Bless this merde for Dom Perignon.”

Dating Stories: The Have Kids Lady

My date said, “I want to have kids,” which was off-putting because the waiter had arrived and I was about to order a steak sandwich.

I said, “You could try the veal.”

She didn’t find that funny.

I ordered and she said she wasn’t hungry but would have a pot of tea.

The waiter left and she said, “Are you ready for kids?” It sounded like they were about to shoot out from under the table.

I cupped my hands, bent over, and said, “Let them rip.”

She didn’t laugh.

Mum said I couldn’t raise children. She said, “You’d be horrible at it.”

I said, “There’s not much to it. Feed them, clean them, cloth them. Teach them to do those things until they can do them themselves.”

Mum said, “There’s more to it than that.”

I said, “How?”

She said, “Gin.”

I said, “Okay. What else?”

She said, “Hmmmmm, I forget the rest.”

My date drank her tea. I ate. The imbalance felt odd. I ate as quickly as I could.

She said, “Maybe you’re not there yet.”

I coughed on a section of rump.

She said, “I need someone who’s in the same place I am.”

I coughed again and gestured to the room we were in.

She didn’t laugh.

She said, “My boyfriend,” I coughed. She said, “My boyfriend doesn’t think he’s ready, but I think he is.”

I spat out a portion of steak onto the table.

She said, “Maybe I should talk to him again.”

So that’s good.

Anyway, I still haven’t gotten the handle of first dates. Do you order food or not?

Well, there’s a romance reunited. So that’s good for them. A happy ending.

Dating Stories: The Poop Fetish Lady

I was having coffee with a date. Well, she was having coffee, I was drinking orange juice that I was watering down.

She said, “Look, before we get too far into this, I need to tell you something. Before I have sex, I like it if the guy takes a shit on my chest.”

Now, this took me by surprise. I mean, I don’t suppose it’s normal, otherwise she wouldn’t have pointed it out. It would be for me to have known. After sex she might be all, Yeah that was good but where was the shitting part? You missed a step.

Anyway, I thought I’d be gentlemanly about it. I said, “Oh, is that right? Where did that come from?”

She said, “My last boyfriend.”

I said, “Oh. Do you plan to stick with it?”

Mum later told me, “It’s called a Cleveland Steamer. Which is different to a rusty trombone. That’s when you lick out someone’s arsehole.”

I said, “Thanks Mum.”

My date said, “Yeah. I just seem to like it like that. Do you think you could do it?”

I said, “I’m not sure.” I mean, I’ve never walked by a dog crap in the street and though, You know where that could be better placed? On someone’s chest.

She said, “Well, could you?”

I said, “Just wait,” and then I spent 10 minutes in the bathroom. After that I decided that, No. Shitting on command and then performing sexual acts was a talent I didn’t have.

It was hard for me to break the news to her. Wendy was her name by the way. She said it was okay. She said she had meet someone willing to do a rusty trombone and that she’d settle for that for now.

So that’s good. She’s met someone. That’s a happy ending.

Dating Stories: The Balloon Ladies

This guy said to me, “It must be great to be single. You can do whatever you want, with whoever you want.”

But that’s not true.

I wrote a letter to Natalie Portman outlining what I wanted to do with her, and she hasn’t replied.

She might be thinking about it.

The awkward thing is, I pretty much wrote the same letter to Scarlett Johansson, and if she writes back, and if Natalie Portman writes back, then I’m stuck, because I can’t afford to take both of them on a balloon ride.

Mum said, “Don’t worry about that. You’re no chance.”

I said, “I could be if I got a good job.”

She said, “No, not the balloon rides. Those two wont write back.”

What Mum doesn’t know is that I sent really nicely worded letters. So they might write back. Then again, they’re in relationships. So they might not. But that’s good. That’s good for them.

Secretly I hope one of them finds out about this, and they write back, just to let me know they got the message, because it’d be nice to get a reply. That’ll be a happy ending.

Dating Stories: The Dancing Lady

I was having a beer when this woman came up to me and said, “Do you want to dance?”

Then I realised I was in a Spanish bar, and a guy was playing Spanish guitar, and the empty space behind her was a dance floor.

I said, “I don’t know how.”

She said, “I can teach you,” and she reached for my hand.

I have sweaty hands so I didn’t take it, but I got up and said, “Ok, what do I do?”

She said, “Take my hips.”

So I did, and she started moving, and I staggered after her. She seemed happy. She was happy dancing and swaying.

Mum said it wouldn’t have been real happiness. Mum said, “Dancers fake-smile to make it look easy.”

I said, “She might have been thinking of me.”

Mum said, “No, she would have been thinking of Chris Hemsworth. Chris Hemsworths’s arms, Chris Hemsworth’s legs, Chris Hemsworth’s face. Mmmm. Chris Hemsworth.”

I said, “It’s a bit weird you’re imagining dancing with me while using Chris Hemsworth’s body parts.”

Mum said, “Don’t ruin Chris Hemsworth for me!”

After staggering for a bit we stopped.

My dance partner said, “You have to move to the music. Listen and just move.”

I said, “Okay,” and started to move.

She watched and said, “Is that the hokey-pokey?”

I said, “Yes. You can try it too.”

She smiled, not because of Chris Hemsworth, and started to hokey-pokey, but really well. I’m not good at the hokey-pokey but she was really good, and then this guy came over and took her by the waist, and she stopped hokey-pokeying and started dancing, proper dancing, and they did it really well. Which is good.

I picked-up my book and left.

They were having a good time. So that’s good. A happy ending.