Ahh, Melbourne Cup Day. That one day of the year when normal, everyday people enter pubs all around Australia to use their TAB & TOTE facilities, negotiating their way past the masses of drunken bar flies to try and place a bet on the ‘race that stops the nation’. I must admit, I was forewarned today by one of my mates of the impending situation I was obliviously walking headlong into.

His warning was as follows…

“Now, just remember, there are going to be a whole bunch of old surly blokes in here getting pissed off at rookies placing bets on the Cup, so let’s just get in there, place our bets and then leave.”

I took the comment he’d made in jest to begin with. Oh how wrong I was.

I mean, I understand that the Cup probably a fucking nightmare for the ‘locals’ that frequent pubs with gambling facilities. They’re used to having the run of the place, being able to place bets at will on any horserace they want with a minimum of fuss and without having to negotiate the snaking line populated exclusively by a bunch of rookie fucks like me, clogging up ‘their’ pathway to the TAB terminal only to create further delays because we’ve all neglected to fill the stupid little TAB form out correctly.

Indeed, I was sweating profusely while perched over the top of my as-yet-unfilled TAB betting slip this afternoon, because nobody really teaches you how to do these things in adolescence, do they? Unless you’ve got a parent who likes the odd flutter (in your company), you’re really going to have absolutely no fucking idea what you’re doing when you go to place a bet on the races. So, it was with some trepidation that I approached the TAB counter with my filled in slips, praying that I didn’t cause any grief for the other punters due to my burgeoning ineptitude.

I was about 5 deep in line when the small, old, incredibly drunk man at the front of the line went absolutely fucking bananas at the bar staff for fucking up his bet (he had filled in the slip himself, so it was most likely he that was to blame). He had the look of a man who’d been drinking five nights a week in the pub for the last 30 years; a bulbous red nose and red face blotched from years of alcohol abuse, a gait that appeared impeded, probably due to severe gout, and a mouth devoid of an entire set of teeth, most likely due to a cost-benefit analysis that the individual conducted in 1981 whereby he weighed the cost of replacing his rotting chompers against what he could potentially win on his next trifecta if he used his teeth money on the ponies instead…

“Youse cunts have got it fuckin’ wrong. I don’ wanna place me fuckin’ bet on the fuckin’ Melbourne Cup with dese other cunts, I wanna place me bet on fuckin’ race 5 ya cunt. I got it clear as fuckin’ day there ya cunt, look! Just fuckin’ fix it ya dopey fuckin’ mug, the fuckin’ race is about ta fuckin’ start.”

One of his compatriots was standing at position 4 in the queue (I was at position 5) and turned to me to try and make light of his mates’ predicament. He fixed his glassy-eyed glare on me and spoke for about 30 seconds, but I have absolutely zero idea what he said. He might’ve been telling me how much he wanted to rape me, for all I know. I just nodded politely and made doubly sure that no part of my body was touching him, for fear of contracting Hepatitis C, and held my keys in between the knuckles on the clenched fist in my pocket to make sure I’d leave a lasting impression if necessary. He was a 45 year-old with a rat’s tail, for fucks sake.

And both of the horses I backed are still fucking running. What an unnecessary displeasure.

/end communication