Rugby players, cougars and alcohol. It was always going to get messy.

November 6, 2009

old mill signIn the end, it was always going to be a recipe for disaster. Call it serendipity or an act of a bored God or pure, stupid chance. When I look back on the event now, it was like watching a river of lava flowing towards the stalled gasoline tanker.

I’m referring to my latest shift as a bartender at the Old Mill Napier. The occasion was the hosting of some 60 ladies at the conclusion of a day spent touring a selection of Hawke’s Bay’s finest wineries. These exemplary examples of estrogen were already several sheets to the wind when they arrived but that didn’t stop them from descending like parched locusts on the outdoor bar.

From what I could gather, these were members of some sort of professional women’s networking group which gathers once a year to make contacts, exchange business cards and chat about their various entrepreneurial ventures, all while getting totally shit-faced.

Anne Vink, the owner of the Old Mill, had recruited a young German chap to assist me in pouring wine and cracking beer bottles. He and his girlfriend were visiting New Zealand as part of the WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) program, meaning they provide slave free labor in exchange for room and board.

The young fellow was nervous enough about the whole tending-bar thing anyway and, when I ducked out at one point to restock, he was literally paralyzed by the boozy demands of howling cougars, some of them just as intent on sampling German wiener schnitzel as the wine he was selling. One member of the pack, taking pity on the poor fellow, hiked up her little black dress and hoisted herself through the open window to take over the dispensing duties. My young apprentice was grateful for the assistance, even if he nearly filled his lederhosen at the sight of her less-than-ladylike entrance.

While the gaggle got stuck into ruining their livers, by pure coincidence a member of the Hawke’s Bay Magpies rugby club, who lives on the property, was hosting an end-of-season soiree for his teammates after the squad was eliminated from the Air New Zealand Cup playoffs. Needless to say, more than a few bottles of beer were sacrificed to the rugby gods at that gathering.

Cue the molten lava and the trapped tanker.

Lured by the high-pitched vibrations of excited/drunk female voices, the Magpies wandered into the dining room where the women were sitting down to a meal, intent on consuming something that wasn’t fermented.

The squeals of delight grew in proportion to the attention the guys paid to the gals. Or, in the case of one player, how many clothes he was willing to shed.

Shortly afterwards, the sound system was fired up and the dance floor turned into a seething, wriggling tango of sweat, desperation and hormones.

I could only watch, mouth agape, as women of a certain age latched onto studly athletes who, in turn, sought out the small number of younger lasses in the crowd. Yes, the players were hosed to the max but their hunting instincts remained intact.

I spotted one player, trapped in the midst of this besotted mess, simply swaying in place, hands over his head, as one woman rubbed her ass into his crotch while a second woman shimmied her crotch against his ass. A Magpie sandwich, as it were.

As fascinating as all this gender interaction may have been to observe, I felt as overwhelmed as my young German friend. I have never known how to deal with people once their brains have been addled by alcohol. I tend to be a logical sort and so have never understand the attraction in drinking until you’re cross-eyed and vomiting.

Having said that, I must note one of my journalism colleagues was never so effusive about the wonders of my writing talents as after the wine started to flow. So I may have to concede there is an upside to this whole getting hosed thing after all.

The players and the ladies were still intent on full-body contact and assorted dry humping by the time my shift ended, but I had no desire to hang around and watch their antics on my own time.

Along with a new respect for sobriety, I also came away from the event with a souvenir: one of those plastic wine glasses that light up at the push of a button in its base.

I now sip Diet Coke from it while wondering what it would be like to be admired and desired, not because I was a pro athlete, but because I’m a nice guy and possess a keen sense of humor.

Yeah, right — must be the aspartame talking.

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