Dave's 21st
Mark, I have your buttons
23 August 2003

Big 21st Birthday greets to my flatmate Dave! It’s tomorrow, but he held the party last night. It was fun. Since I would imagine everyone there was too plastered to remember much of anything, here’s my blow-by-blow account of how the venerable evening unfolded. Remember people, we have photos. We also have videos.

Notice: If your picture appears here and you want it removed, mail me.

6.30pm:   The time rolls around for people to begin arriving. Dave starts to pace up and down waiting for “the scum” to pick us up, muttering something about the unreliability of Malaysians.
6.45pm:   Dave starts to worry that he’s been stood up by everyone.
6.50pm:   Viv is the first to turn up.
7.00pm:   The rest of the gang turns up, but we’re now short one car, Mark D having been waylaid by some household catastophe. Luckily, there’s enough space in the cars that are there. We leave for Kobe Jones, a Jap restaurant on King Street Wharf where we have a 7.30 reservation. I’m sitting in Joyce’s car.
7.30pm:   We arrive into the city after picking up BH and HC, looking for the car park that’s meant to give us free parking.
7.35pm:   We make a wrong turn and end up near Star City. Joyce swears. We eventually make it back to the correct side of the harbour.
7.45pm:   We make another wrong turn, and end up almost crossing the Anzac Bridge. Joyce swears again.
8.00pm:   We finally find the car park and make it to the restaurant where it turns out that Mark D has beaten all of us to arrive first.
Dinner:   Thanks to Dave for shouting everyone dinner. Despite my attempts to convince him that the Australian way was for everyone to pay for their own meal and then chip in to pay for his, his Malaysian ethos was just too strong. Kobe Jones is an alright restaurant, but overpriced in my opinion. The sushi is good, the mains were mediocre (mine was a seared salmon).
Kobe Jones
11.00pm:   We adjourn back to our apartment, stopping along the way at a Bottle-O to add more liquor to the case of VB we won at trivia a little while ago. Amongst the spoils is a nasty $9 4L cask of goon (cheap red wine) which is used to good effect later in the night. There are 15 people in the apartment at this stage.
11.15pm:   The first of the beer is cracked open and we start playing Pictionary. Soon after, Mark D and Maria leave, followed by Viv. I was surprised that almost no one knew what a swagman was, and aghast that none of the Malaysians knew the lyrics of Waltzing Matilda. I mean, after 3 years, some Australiana has gotta rub off on you, right? After some artistic creativity regarding the interpretation of “cockpit”, the goon makes its first appearance along with the card game “in-between”. Draw two cards. If the third card is in between the two drawn cards, the deck moves to the next person. If the third card falls outside the two drawn cards, you drink the cup of wine. If the third card matches one of the two drawn cards, you drink double the amount of wine in the cup. Before the third card is drawn, you get to decide if you want to add more booze to the cup so that the next person has to drink more. For those unwilling or unable to consume alcohol, a double amount of water was substituted. The game at one point escalated to 8 full cups of water. Toilet, anybody?
1.00am:   Dave is beetroot red, but everyone is for the most part hanging on to their sobriety. Inhibitions are quickly being dispensed with, however, and the group breaks out into the chorus of MB20’s “Unwell”. Prab and Adam impress by sculling two large cups of goon each.
Prab is shit outta luck in "in-between" and has to down two cups of goon
1.30am:   In-between starts to lose appeal and we switch to Indian Poker. The goon runs out. The hard liquor comes out.
3.00am:   Jess disappears inside Dave’s room and is not seen for a few hours. The effects of alcohol begin to kick in. The video camera begins filming.

Clockwise from Top Left:
- Mark is going red... I didn't think that was possible
- Sing it! Oh the emotion!
- Mark trying to prove a point. I wouldn't know what point that is
3.30am:   The lights go out and everyone is seen to be attempting to sing and dance. Amazingly, no complaints from our incredibly tolerant neighbours, despite the loudness of the music and the slurred singing of 11 people, punctuated by the occasional “Scull! Scull! Scull!”

Clockwise from Top Left (lighting digitally amplified):
- Singing Third Eye Blind's
Semi-Charmed Life
- Mark extends his hand to shake Prab's hand. Prab misses.
- Drinking game. Get to punch the people that scull slower than you.
3.45am:   Adam is singing his heart out to an Usher song. Jolene is sitting off to one side playing with her phone. To Mark, everyone has suddenly become his bestest buddy. Joyce is using a beer bottle as a microphone giving the performance of her life. BH and HC, both sober, are receiving the unwanted attention of Sean’s alcohol-enhanced affections. Prab’s head is lolling from side to side like a rag doll while he drawls out lines from “Tears in Heaven”. Justin is nursing another beer on the couch. Dave is struggling. Two buckets are brought out into the lounge room.
4.05am:   Joyce is heard to be lending words of encouragement to Dave. “C’mon hold it David! Fight it David!” Mark breaks out into a wonderful rendition of poetry: “So I must go, and drink the flow, of the alcoholic low.

Clockwise from Top Left:
- And Dave hurrrrrrls!
- The customary proferring of the tissue
Oh man, leave me alone...
4.06am:   Dave throws up into a bucket. The event is caught on film for posterity. He is the first victim of alcohol. Joyce rushes in with paper towers yelling, “David I’ll save you!”
4.10am:   Sean and Mark are shouting, “She’s mine! She’s mine! She’s fucking mine!” over HC. HC begins to feel uncomfortable. Justin is seen defending the women.
Mark trying to crack on to HC
4.12am:   Sean declares, “Oh Fuck! Move move move!” and runs off to the bathroom and locks the door behind him.
4.15am:   Dave achieves a state of catatonia (sort of like nirvana, but without the enlightenment). Winamp starts to play Backstreet Boys. Everyone is too far gone to care.
4.16am:   Mark requests a bucket.
4.18am:   Sean has a relapse. “Stuart! Can I speak to [puke in] your toilet?” “By all means…” Mark yells, “Eh, follow him he’s gonna spew.” This time, Sean’s business is more urgent and the door is not locked behind him. The camera follows.

Run Sean, Run!
4.25am:   Justin begins to sober up, logs on to the net to play Utopia. Dave disappears into the bathroom again.
4.15-4.45am:   Both toilets are frequented by a continual stream of porcelain god worshippers. Liberal use of air freshener ensues.
4.30am:   David passes out on the bathroom floor and doesn’t emerge until some hours later. Efforts to move him only raise indignant retorts of being "damn comfortable" where he was. Jolene snoozes. Mark finally succumbs to the liquor and gets hit badly. Joyce, by now sober, leaves with BH and HC, who appear relieved to be free from Sean’s zealous advances. Sean had driven up to our apartment, which left him with a bit of a problem getting home. Luckily, a bunch of some (I’m sad to say, poseur) friends drop by to pick him up, while another one of his friends drives his car off for him.
Case of VB won at trivia: Free
A run of bad luck in cards: Free
A birthday present of some nice VSOP cognac: Free
4L Cask Wine: $9
Passing out and sleeping on the bathroom floor in the foetal position: Priceless

You don't know how long I've been waiting to say that. That bucket by the way, is swilling with puke.

4.45am:    Mark throws up and declares that he’s never been that pissed before. I end up with the enviable job of holding a bucket under his chin while he alternates between wretching, spitting, drooling, and constantly muttering, “I can’t breathe. I’m gonna die. I need water!” Justin assumes the role of water boy, and gives Mark water in the same way you’d feed an incapacitated geriatric.
Drink, drunk... the difference is U. And too much goon.
5.00am:   Mark declares that he needs to take his shirt off so he can puke better. He does so Superman style, ripping it off in one deft motion which ensures the destruction of all the buttons on his shirt. He begins to loosen his jeans, but we persuade him not to go further. He keeps insisting that he needs to spew, so Adam, getting impatient, tries to induce spewing by slugging him in the stomach. It doesn’t work, but Mark is now in considerable pain.
If you look closely, you can see the drool hanging off Mark's bottom lip.
5.15am:   Mark’s condition continues to worsen after another few bouts of vomiting. It doesn’t appear he needs to go to the hospital, him still being… well, reasonably conscious, but at his insistence (“Call an ambulance, I’m gonna die”) we decide it is safer to do so. Justin and I prop the shirtless Mark up and stumble down several flights of stairs and outside into the cold and rain, barefoot. Mark hurls again and fertilises the garden. Jolene agrees to leave with Adam to bring Mark to the hospital, but not without first threatening to inflict some substantial bodily harm should Mark soil her car. After putting Mark’s shirt back on - a masterful manipulation of limbs and clothing which could double as a contortionist’s act - Mark starts to freak: “Adam, wot… woteva yous do, don’t… do not let… oh man I can’t breathe… do not let the hospital contact me parents. Mate… promise me… promise me you won’t letem… Hey wait, wait, wait. I gotta do up my buttons… Gotta do them up. I gotta look presentable for the hospital… Wait… wait… I can’t find my buttons… I gotta look presentable…” Mark’s parents reside in Darwin.
“Mark, don’t worry about your buttons man, you look fine.” Mark’s buttons reside on my couch.
Mark, I have your buttons
5.30am:   The apartment is finally quiet. Prab is zonked out on a chair and David is still passed out on the bathroom floor. Justin and I are surveying the damage and mopping up the disaster arising from two red wine carpet spills early in the night (which have fortunately now been unstained thanks to liberal use of bicarb soda), when Jess suddenly stumbles out of Dave’s room. She is slurring, and apparently still suffering the after-effects of inebriation and sleep deprivation. It transpires that she had been on the phone to flames, both new and old, in Melbourne. Justin and I are roped into a more or less one way conversation with Jess.
5.45am:   Justin declares exhaustion, and that he has to attend a group meeting for his thesis at 11am and withdraws. When Prab starts convulsing violently on the bare sofa bed, we decide to drape a blanket over him. Jesz continues talking. A fascinating, if not somewhat surreal complete and unabridged disclosure of her life’s aspirations and issues, delivered in typical early morning D&M style. Not unusual, except that I barely know her (heh, not anymore!), and that she had barely spoken a word during dinner to anyone. It’s quite rare to have someone open up that much, and continue talking even after sobriety returns. Bit of a privilege really, but it was quite bewildering why it was being handed to me.
6.45am:   Dave finally stumbles out of the toilet, past me and Jess, though seemingly oblivious to our presence, and crashes onto the sofa bed next to Prab.
7.00am:   My conversation with Jess wraps up and we retire. Hi Jess, I’m sure you’re reading this. I can offer you one piece of advice off the top of my head. Asking questions is terrific, and something that people should do more often. Challenging one’s beliefs will either destroy them or reinforce them, neither of which are intrinsically bad things. Unfortunately, a lot of people can never come to a conclusion about many such questions in life, but often, if you want to move forward, you will have to decide one way or the other. It’s nice to want to be able to change the world, but that is not a goal, it is a vision. As much as company vision statements proclaim they want to “assure positive shareholder return, and develop world class products and hold client service as paramount”, the visions mean nothing if there are no underlying plans to back them up. Visions are abstract. Goals are concrete. Life works in the same way. There are many different paths to achieving visions, but we can’t pick them all, so we just have to pick a few, or even just one. Then you have to physically work at it, and give it everything. Grandiose visions require unreserved dedication. If you ever want someone to argue or discuss with you about life’s issues, you’ll find few people that have a penchant for playing the devil’s advocate as me.
11.30am:   I awaken to find just Dave and Prab left in the apartment. Dave remembers nothing. I snigger, and bring out the video camera.
Postscript:   Mark required two litres of saline solution to rehydrate himself at the hospital. He was throwing up until late Sunday afternoon.

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