For once, it's my fault (not Anto's) that we've no new show this week.
You see, I moved last weekend. Out to a nice little 2-bedroom apartment in Blanchardstown, Dublin. My flatmate is this guy:
Irish wrestling fans will know him as 'The Ballymun Bruiser'. Some of you may even remember him from a documentary TV3 did on his life a few years back. But, to me, he's just Kev.
Kev and I go back about seven years now after meeting in the Irish Whip Wrestling training gym. He was one of the first trainees to actually give me time of day and soon took me under his wing as 'The Skit (Skanger in Training'...a running joke we had). We grew to be close friends and have, by now, seen and brought out the absolute worst in each other. So, for this week's blog, allow me to share with you one of my favourite Bruiser stories.
The date was April 2008. The location was Kusadasi, Turkey. Kev and I were on holidays and decided, one night, to head to a local bar with a few girls we got talking to in the apartment complex.
Most people know the score with Turkey: basically, it's where older or less...em...aesthetically-pleasing women go to be fawned over by young, handsome, Turkish lads. They spend thousands of euro making trips back and forth each year to get the attention they obviously aren't at home (the girls we were on the trip with were making their 2nd trip in four months, and were going back again in another three months). Now, this is fair enough - whatever you're int0 - but the really sad part of this story is that often these women will get so caught up in the younger guys fawning over them in a way no whiskey-breathed Irishman ever could, that they'd end up agreeing to help traffic drugs or the like. Feel free to look through episodes of Banged Up Abroad for horror stories if you're not familiar with them already.
This one particular establishment was where all the local lads hung around and the Irish and English women came flocking (if you know Kusadasi, you'll know the spot). Coincidentally, my Dad knew the owner from a previous job, and had told me to say hello on his behalf if I ventured in that direction.
What he didn't inform me, crucially, was that this owner appeared to be some kind of gang lord.
So, as Kev and I wandered cluelessly into Kusadasi's finest bar-slash-criminal-grooming-epicentre, we were baffled as to why 30 Turkish lads had gone silent upon seeing us and gave us stares so menacing that goats instantly became an endangered species. Football fans will know all-too-well that being stared at by a group of angry Turks is almost never a good thing (unless they are angry because it's been so gosh-darn long since they've given you a hug and fed you seedless grapes...but that was almost definitely not the case here).
Being the drunkest of the pair of us, I stepped up to handle the situation like a man.
"I...I'd like to speak to Jemal please?" I said meekly. (Name changed for the purposes of self-preservation)
One of the posse stepped forward, silently, and led me by the arm into a dark side-alley, to see Jemal. I didn't understand why he had to stay so quiet. I mean, even if he was planning to end my life there and then, good manners cost nothing. And it kind of made me wonder if I was in for some kind of spooky twist like him leading me to a grave and saying "Jemal has been dead for seven YEEEEEAAARRRRSSSSSS!" But I went with it.
Then, and only then, did I realise why Dad had been so sketchy with information about this character. There's no way to describe him accurately without using the words 'Tony', 'Soprano' and 'except he's Turkish' in the same sentence.
This large, bald and tanned figure had his back to me as his apparent right-hand man told me to "Stand there" and approached the boss man. His henchman wasn't so much Sil from The Sopranos now, more like a weedy, scared kid going up to teacher to confess that he hadn't done his sums last night. Jemal shot his head with contempt towards his meagre pawn as the latter whispered and pointed in my direction. Then he cautiously turned to meet my gaze. At that point, I'd have loved to have a water pistol to spray him in the face with as he completed his 180. Just for funnies.
"You...know me?" he uttered with the kind of quiet evil that caused little dollops of reindeer poop to fill my under-garments. I had picked a good night to wear ball stranglers, otherwise it would have just been a mess.
"My dad...he's (my Dad's name). H-he said to say hello," was my reply. In the context of me being stuck in a dark alley with an obviously powerful and intimidating figure who looked frankly appalled to see me, the pleasantries seemed kind of irrelevant as they came out of my mouth.
Jemal paused for a second. Then, thank fuck, broke out into a large smile as he said "AHHH! (MY DAD'S NAME)!!!" and threw his hands out wide in a sign of friendly embrace. Despite the fact that it now looked as though I would survive the night, I still wasn't completely happy that name-dropping my Dad had brought such a beam to the face of this possible psychopath.
Anyway we small-talked as best a serious criminal overlord and a terrified, drunk Irish kid could for a few minutes before Jemal beckoned his sidekick towards him. And when I say beckoned...he literally clicked his fingers and (let's name him) Jeeves was at his side.
"Theees man," he said, putting his hand on my shoulder. "...is my friend. We take care of him in my bar tonight. On this, the day of my daughter's wedding." (Okay, I made the last sentence up)
Jeeves ushered me back inside the bar, where Kev still looked a combination of worried and yet still willing to start swinging punches everywhere if necessary. Jeeves gave the still-silent crowd the nod (you know THAT nod: the one that says "Don't kill these people.") and, I swear to god, the place erupted in cheers.
We were thrust towards the bar and told to order what we wanted, on the house.
Back then, my party piece was to do party-shooters. I could get a long-neck down in a solid 11 seconds. They feigned amazement at this and got 'CHUG! CHUG!' chants started. While I would knock down one bottle, one of the other guys would do these crazy cocktail-bar tricks while opening another, and another, and another. I think 6 seconds was my personal best for the night. And now, I was well-and-truly trolleyed.
So trolleyed, was I, that I was MORE than happy to partake in their pre-choreographed dances to cheesey tracks such as 'Follow The Leader'. Even Kev, who wouldn't be big into this scene, was up dancing on tables at one stage. Fun times were to be had by all.
There was one problem, though. You see, while the lads were happy to let us join the party on Jemal's orders, they weren't content to let us mooch in on their girls. They deflected this problem, initially, by pairing us off with perhaps the two most...how to say this politely...ape-ish(?) girls in the place. The girls were more than happy to go along with this arrangement...shit, if they pulled, at least they'd have fellas that they wouldn't need to spend two grand a pop just to see. Kev and I? Notsomuch...
In my drunken haze, somehow I had attracted the attention of one cute Asian girl who was about the only daycent thing the bar had to offer. We were having great craic altogether on the dancefloor and my thoughts were fast switching to how I would kick Kev out of the room once we went back to the hotel. Then Jeeves grabbed me.
"What are you doing man?!" he said. "She is not your girl! She is his girl!" and he pointed to one big, angry-looking fucker sitting alone at the bar with a face of thunder.
"He has to listen to Jemal tonight, but after tonight is over, he's still going to be mad," Jeeves warned me. Oh...that was a good point, now that you mention it...
"I know! To the bar, Jeeves!" I said, adding that sound effect they used to cut between scenes in the 60's Batman TV show to heighten the drama.
He followed me, not exactly looking calmed by my handling of the situation. In fairness, he was probably thinking that the solution to every Irish problem is to add more drink to the proceedings. And, in fairness, he'd be right. But it doesn't mean it's a bad solution. I ordered two Baby Guinness' and planted one in front of the angry dude. We toasted and I had somehow weaselled my way out of another possible near-death experience.
Kev was, at this stage, getting bored. I was way more drunk than him and too busy calming Turk-Asian relations, leaving him to sit down and listen to the fat girl he had been handed waffle the ears off him about how her Turkish boyfriend never pays her attention any more.
Eventually, he told me he was going and that I could stay if I wanted. Being the good friend I am, I insisted on walking him outside to his taxi (literally all of three metres from the exit). And, while I did so, did that typical drunk thing of telling him how good of a friend he was.
What made this untypical, though, was that I got quite passionate during the exchange. In fact, Kev informs me, I was so passionate that I repeatedly chopped and punched him on the chest. Think that girl that Joey went out with in Friends who hit him affectionately ("YOU ARE SO FUNNY!")
Now losing the rag, Kev managed to keep his composure in shrugging me off and leaving me to go back to my free booze, overweight girls and new-found Turkish, extortionist BFFs.
It was around 6am by the time that I crawled back to the hotel. Fortunately, said hotel had a 24-hour bar and I had a wad of cash in my pocket due to the unexpected free alcohol in Jemal's place. So, seeing the crowd coming in from their respective nights, I thought it a waste to let the night end now. Sure breakfast kicked off in an hour! A buffet, no less! I'd be rude to turn down that kind of hospitality.
A few more pints and an uneasy breakfast later, I finally reached my room. Knackered. Kev was fast asleep in the other bed...or so I thought...
You see, Kev hadn't taken my earlier declaration of friendship/roughing up lightly. As soon as he arrived back at the apartment, he had begun plotting his revenge. And he would get it.
For yours truly was so exhausted that I didn't even even want to lie under the sheets. I simply leapt onto my bed excitedly. And, upon doing so, the following sounds echoed throughout the room:
So angry was 'The Ballymun Bruiser' from our earlier encounter, that at 4am he had gone to the trouble of stripping my entire bed. He then proceeded to take the mattress off, and after doing so put said mattress where the base of the bed was originally and put the base on TOP of it. Following this, he made the bed up to perfection...so much so that he should have been instantly offered a job as a hotel bed-maker, because it was IMPOSSIBLE to tell the difference between the bed in it's normal state and what it had become...
An upside-down bed.
The crack was me landing on the wooden frame full force.
The "euuughh!" was the minute-long groan of agony that followed.
The girly-giggle was the HOUR-long soundtrack of our room as Kev watched his revenge served cold, hard, wooden and with a mint on the pillow.
Four months later, I was forced to quit wrestling due to a bad back. This HAD to have a LOT to do with it.
But it was a masterful prank, so credit where it's due.
And, for those who may think the story is made up or exaggerated:
Did I fix the bed or do anything to remedy the situation?
Fuck no. I was too drunk. I rolled over and dealt with it when I woke up that afternoon.
And there you have it: my new flat-mate. Trust me, this is just one of the stories, and plenty more to come. I'll save the rest for the book, though.
A MUSIC LINK THAT YOU PROBABLY WON'T CLICK BUT I'M QUITE ENJOYING AT THE MOMENT
I've gone on record to say that I can't get into dubstep...but I'm quite liking this at the moment in spite of myself. Wom wom.
A FUNNY VIDEO THAT SHALL HAVE YOU IN STITCHES...I SWEAR...
Back next week with either a blog or podcast if Anto and I can sort out our schedules. Until then, this has been The Weekly Bloggo.
Rick Nash is a DJ, radio host and now, evidently, blogger. He is also a former professional wrestler. So he can kick the shit out of you if you slag him for being a blogger. Or at least pretend to.
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