We’re four middle-aged men about to hit the slopes – mates who met in Perth decades earlier but none of whom still live there. Perhaps it’s because it’s a bit of a catch phrase of the times but right from the start the trip is dubbed: “The Fully Sick Ski Trip”. This is even etched out in the frost covered back window of Ano’s four wheel drive – our very comfy mode of transport up and down the mountain (sadly the photo of this etching appears to have melted away just like the frost itself). The skiing is fun and without incident. Until the last day. Coming off a lift, one of my skis gets caught and my right knee is twisted into a position it was never designed to reach. The pain is excruciating. Abandoned by my mates, I somehow make it down the run. It seems to be less painful to ski than it is to walk. So I manage to get through the rest of the afternoon, stopping regularly for quick shots of alcohol. This appears to ease the throbbing and gives some credence to all those scenes in westerns where they give the poor sod a shot of whisky before ripping an arrow out of his leg. Our skiing is finally done and I manage to hobble back to the four-wheel drive. But as we begin the six hour trip back to Sydney, my knee reaches a new level of pain. Maybe having to keep it bent in the back of the car isn’t helping. A couple of hours later, I’m not only in great pain, I have now become a great pain – a distraction to the others who just want me to shut the fuck up. Then I remember that one of our group, who sadly had recently cared for his wife as she died of cancer, had mentioned that he still had some morphine pills with him in case any of us were interested. At the time he mentioned it, none of us were, possibly a little freaked out by the offer. But times change. Now, a bit of morphine sounds just the ticket. So I ask for one and he obliges. I wait, slightly nervous – wondering if I’m about to drift off into a drug haze. But nope – nothing. The pain is getting worse if anything. Could I maybe have another? Sure. So I pop the next one, wondering if two morphine tablets in a short space of time can constitute an overdose. But yet again – nothing. Maybe they’ve gone off. I don’t feel anything except a knee getting ready to explode. Then I have a great idea – alcohol! Some alcohol is the answer. So I ask Ano if he minds if I have some of his duty free bottle of bourbon. Sure – go ahead – anything to shut me up. So I dig it out of his bag and have a sip. Mmm – not bad. Not my usual preference in spirits but definitely hitting the spot. So I continue to swig away while discovering that mobile phone golf can be a fascinating distraction. And so between the bourbon and the golf, my mood improves considerably. In fact, I can’t really feel my knee at all. Actually, I can’t feel much of anything. But I do feel great. Until I don’t. We arrive on the outskirts of Sydney and stop for some petrol. My stomach doesn’t feel so good. Nausea starts stirring. The phone slides from my hand as I lean my head against the window. Uhhhh….. I’m vaguely aware of a couple of the others being dropped off. Ano can sense that I’m not in a good way. He tells me to hang on as he speeds through the relatively quiet Sunday night traffic. I try. But I can’t. I lower the window and empty the contents of my stomach down the side of his car and possibly into the windscreens of anyone unfortunate enough to be behind us at the time. Ano expresses his annoyance in a series of expletives. But I don’t care. I’m dying. I’m being turned inside out as we zoom along towards Bondi at breakneck speed. Finally, we arrive at my block of flats. Ano opens the door and is happy to watch me tumble out of his spew sprayed car and crawl to the gutter, where I intend to remain until I finally die. Shouldn’t be much longer. But my wife, standing there unimpressed by the mess that is her husband (for the time being), tries to get me to move while Ano cleans the puke off his now soiled four wheel-drive. But I ain’t moving. So my wife gets our big burly Kiwi neighbour to carry me over his shoulder and up to our flat. Such a position should make me puke all the way up the stairs but, fortunately, there’s nothing left. It’s all either being washed off of Ano’s car or is splattered throughout the streets of Sydney. I am tossed into bed where, surely, I will soon die. But I don’t. Instead, I manage to survive, albeit with a cloud of shame over my head. My mates of course bring it up on a regular basis, Ano particularly annoyed with how I dispensed with his Jim Beam. So, several years later when three quarters of our gang of four are at a pub and I am reliving the horror all over again, I tell Ano that the time has come to finally put this to bed, in a manner of speaking. So we walk over to the drive thru bottle shop and I tell him to pick a bourbon. He forgoes Jim Beam for something fancier, and more expensive. No worries – whatever. Anything to repay the guilty debt of The Fully Sick Ski Trip.
Jeez Charles, therein one of the differences between old male friends and old female friends, maybe? I kept waiting for Ano to take you for a bit of after hours medical attention when he realised you weren’t in a good way; but nup, back to your place to hose down the 4WD (while your wife enterprisingly organises you a “lift” from your burly neighbour).
I vividly recall Anita K having a spew down a car a group of us were travelling in – a drunken night at the China House in Shenton Park, possibly, a terrifying run down that steep driveway at the back of the OBH, raucous singing “I’ll be your knight in shining arrrrrmour, coming to your EMOTIONAL rescue”. A hose down of the vehicle at my parents’ house in Daglish; we laugh about it, but I don’t think we’ve ever ragged her about it. 🙂