I grew up Queer in a hetero-supremacist world and had to fight it out with many a bully-boy from kindergarten on, even my brother bashed me because I was a sissy, and at some point I learnt to hit back, to give as good as I got, like a lot of boys I found the fracas kind of exhilarating. I might be a poof but I was never a wimp, plus I'm smart, with a ferocious 'gay' wit, always giving lip, the smart mouth that often got itself smacked, and why should I take shit anyway? Thus I've had a long life of bashings and street-fighting and if I was to sub-title my life-story I would call it "How I Got (the) Beat!" cause it not only made me one tough cookie but got me with the groove, able to weather any brouhaha, hip to the moment, surfing the chaos.
So I was hanging around the Last Gasp Cafe past dawn watching the deadbeats drift down from the redlight clubs after the World Cup football match, everybody zonked, yahooing with a last hurrah, when a cute 'wog' boy caught my eye, he smiled at me and I couldn't help giving him a wink and a raised eyebrow. He returned my lascivious looks and plonked down beside me and asked, "what do ya know?" "Everything!" I replied, "I've seen it all." "So what's happening, what are we doing?" he replied with devil-may-care aplomb. In his mid-twenties, with close-cropped hair, he had that middle-eastern look I'm crazy for, tho he also had a crazed cast in his eye, with a marble loose somewhere rattling around his small skull.
He licked his lips and asked,"Are you gay?" "I'm queer, so what?" "But what made you GAY? How did it happen?" "I was born with the potential and society confirmed it, since I was a kid." "Are you a boxer? You look like your nose is broken." What was he fishing for? I had to let him know I was no push-over, for whatever he was planning. "I've been in a lot of street fights and had my nose broken 3 times. Life's been tough but I'm on top of it." He held up a fist and grabbed at my hand,"Let me see that silver ring you're wearing!" "It's just a ring, forget about it." His eye-balls spun, he grimaced, "What do you know about ICE? Does it get you high?"
"No, it rots your brain and kills you young! You should know, you had a shot last night by the looks of it. I don't take drugs." "So what are we doing? I need a job, something slick." He was spinning me out, not the fuzzy warm lover I dreamt of. "There's lots of businesses on the Cross, try and you will find. It's nice meeting you, I've got to go now, good luck." "You know what it is about you homosexuals? You're demon-possessed, you got a djinn in you!" Ah, he was a Muslim, no wonder he was so hung-up and ambivalent about same-sex knowledge. I'd love to have taken him home, rough trade being my favourite kind of danger but I just wasn't up for the nasty abuse, too old for it these days, the short thrill not worth the trouble. "Goodbyeee."
He wandered off in an uptight daze and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then grizzle-guts Michael showed up to haunt the Pick Your Bum Cafe, looking like a six-foot Agro from a Muppets' rubbish bin. Twenty years ago I had a fight with him up the street and still shuddered when I clapped eyes on his ugly face. He had been standing in a Chinese Tobacconists, practicing his non-Chinese while I waited in a huff for my ciggies. "Lee ping dong wang," he burbled on and on. The Chinese guy looked stunned, "Huh?" "Gung fook flung dung." "What you want?" said the little Chinese guy all in a pickle. "I speak Chinese. Ting wah soong chook." The Chinese Tobacconist looked at me as if to say, "What is this guy on about?"
Waiting not so patiently, I was really uptight and said, "Don't take any notice of him, he's a nutcase." Michael roared in a fury, turned and kicked me so hard I nearly split in two. I limped back out onto Roslyn street while he turned back to continue the "ding bat wah hoon" number, oblivious to my pain. I saw red and, with his back turned, I also saw my chance for revenge and went flying back into the shop and with my steel-capped boot kicked him so hard in the arse I gave him another arse-hole I'm sure. He shrieked in torment and chased me out and down the street, all the cafe dwellers sitting at their outside tables nearby cheering as they'd seen the whole episode. I was always a fast runner and got clean away, him screaming schitzo murder after me.
About 3 months later I was at Paddington Markets, sitting on the ground with some friends, laughing and chatting, and the bastard saw his chance and snuck up on me with a garbage bin full of slops from the hippie-food hall and dumped the whole mess over my head, making me wear the bin like a straight-jacket. I leapt up, muck flying and oozing down my neck and sprang upon him, for all his beastly six feet. He had a wooden flute he'd been hopelessly busking with, making non-music, and he dropped it on the ground. I swept it up and beat him with it a few times till it broke to bits, then he chased me in and out the traffic on Oxford street, throwing punches, me ducking them and getting a few good slugs in myself, really connecting with the out-of-control zombie's ugly mug.
My friends were stupified, their jaws dropped, then one of my mates collected himself and rushed to my rescue, slamming Michael hard on the chin and dropping him in his tracks. "Never touch Toby again, you fucker!" Mad Michael crawled away into the gob-smacked hippie crowd and never in all the years since did he try it on me again. Once when visiting a friend in Caritas, the psycho-bin in Darlinghurst, Michael was also incarcerated there and the poor fuck thought I'd come to visit him, he rushed up and drooled his thanks for my concern, I felt sorry for such a loser but never ever did forget that hard kick he gave me way back when, and it's been my fate to still see his grungy mug at least once a week for he's always creeping about the Cafe of Lost Souls for a hand-out. Such is life, a knock one moment, a hug the next.