I was taught never to view women as sexual objects, and to treat your girlfriend like a divine princess. I was taught to treat her gently, respectfully and to never enter a relationship just for sex. As a teenager high on hormones, this created much internal conflict. Consequently, my confidence around girls was quite low, as it was around kids my own age in general. My relationship goals were based around finding something with heart, something that would last. This was a strange place for a teenager to be – old enough for desire, too young for love. Just another internal contradiction to add to the pile!
One day, my father and I travelled up to Cairns in Queensland for a gig at Johno’s Blues Bar. With my usual session guys backing me up, I was seriously looking forward to this gig. Johno’s was centred around Johno, a guitar player/singer who loved his blues as much as his drink. That place was the pub you could go to, to get shit faced on real live blues music. As a performer, I knew I’d always get a responsive crowd that was ready to let go!
Throughout the set, I saw a girl in the front row batting her eyelids and shooting suggestive smiles. But as a 13 year old, I didn’t know what the hell a suggestive smile was, I just thought she was enjoying the music. So I shot her smiles back. She’d smile, I’d smile. I remember the crowd being a particularly “saliva-ry” one. There is sway drunk, jump drunk and then there’s saliva drunk. Lots of screaming and spit flying around the place. Very primal! I could tell that she felt a little out of place and she disappeared. As I sat back stage with my dad and my band, blood rushing, reflecting on the awesome gig we’d had, I couldn’t help but think about that girl. I wanted to see her but knew I didn’t have the guts to approach her, so I dismissed the thought and went back to reflecting on the night.
I hear a knock at the door, and a security guard pops his head in to tell us that there’s a girl on the other side of it, wanting her tits signed by me. What the fuck?! My head started spinning! There was no way I could sign someone’s boobs. I’d never even seen a pair in real life! The band were egging me on to accept the challenge, but I couldn’t do it. I declined respectfully and the security guard left. Ten minutes later, he pops his head in to say that she won’t leave until I’ve signed them. Another surge of adrenalin pulsated through my veins. I literally felt trapped! Trapped between “You should always treat a girl like a princess” and “I really want to see some boobs!”. Dad noticed me hesitate and took me aside and gave me advice that was completely out of character for him “Nath, don’t over-think it, what are you worried about?”. I told him what was going through my head. Logistically, how would it happen? What do I say? What do I do? Will she take her top off or do I have to do it? If so, I don’t know how to take a bra off! Once they’re out, will she hold them so I can sign my name clearly? Or do I have to hold with one hand and sign with the other?? Fuck! Lost in panic, dad told the guys to leave the band room and gestured for the security guard to let the girl come in. AND HE LEFT ME BY MYSELF! Which in hind sight, was the less creepy option.
I see a lady walk into the band room, and it was her! It was “smiles chick”! Holy hell. My heart was pounding! In denial of the situation, I went into my usual “after show” banter. “Hi how are you? Did you enjoy the show? I love Cairns… How about that weather…?” What made it even more intense is that she seemed just as nervous as I was! When we ran out of things to talk about, and I ran out of ways to delay the inevitable, she asked for my autograph. I nervously replied, “No problems!! Let me grab a piece of paper… Who shall I make it out to?”.. She grabbed my hand and told me that she didn’t want an autograph on paper. AAAAARRRR! I was cornered and slapped into reality. After what felt like a whole night of stuttering and resisting, I caved. She unbuttoned her bra and I purposely started my signature as high on the upper chest toward the neck as possible. Her hand grabbed mine, and moved it down further to her “boobs”, and my hand finished off what felt like my incredibly long last name! With an exhale of relief and a few bashful smiles, she asked for another service that I was completely inexperienced in…a kiss! Concealing my panic terribly, I kissed her on the cheek as I stood up out of my chair and gave her a big hug. I opened the door, and she left. I remember sitting back on my chair in compete awe, uncertain and confused. I wasn’t sure whether to be ashamed, laugh or cry. I’m positive my face was as red as a fire hydrant!
Soon after, it was time to leave, and we walked out of the band room with guitar cases in hand. I was at the back of the pack holding two guitar cases when I felt a hand whip me around and push me against the wall. Before I could make out what was going on, a tongue was planted into my stunned mullet mouth. Whilst the left hand rubbed my chest and arms, the right placed a note a little too deep into my jean pocket. She told me she was working night shift reception at a hotel next door to mine and left. Again, I was left extremely conflicted.
I opened up the note on the way back to our hotel room. It had her phone number and the details of the hotel she worked at. My imagination ran wild. Being too “respectful” to act on it, that’s as far as it went. My imagination ran wild for months after that! It made for an awesome story at school. School and touring…two very, very different worlds.