Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Papua New Guinea: Tales from the Bar: The Beehive: Part II

The Wednesday after Cathy punched Maymay's lights out, I returned to the Beehive. I wondered who would be there, and how I would be received.

When I walked in the door, there was the standard moment of shock when everyone in the place felt compelled to stop and stare at me. This happens on a regular basis, though, so I didn't much care. Many people recognized me from the week before, so I got a “hey, bro” here and there, and then everyone resumed their activities.

This time Stewart and some of his friends were going to meet me for happy hour. I was the first to arrive, so I went to wait at the bar.

When Bernard, the owner, saw me, he was overjoyed. “It's good to see you again,” he said. “I didn't think you'd come back.”

“Don't worry,” I told him, “I have very low standards.”

We had a good laugh over this, and then he bought me a drink.

Bernard was busy with other matters, so we chatted briefly and he moved on.

So, there I was – sitting at the bar, sipping my bourbon, listening to the band, and minding my own business. The surly waitresses were hanging around behind the bar, and two young ladies were sitting to my left.

The waitresses ignored me like I figured they would, but the two young ladies didn't last two minutes before they started asking me questions.

Their icebreaker was a question of nationality. “Are you Australian?” they asked.

When I told them that I was American, they were duly impressed.

They were concerned that I was alone, though, so I told them that I was waiting on my friends to arrive.

“We'll keep you company until they get here,” they told me.

Then we started in on the usual conversation about who I was, why I was in Papua New Guinea, how I liked it, where I had traveled, and all the rest.

These young ladies were named Medley and April, and they told me that they almost never came to bars. They were more into the nightclub scene. Specifically, they were Gold Club junkies.

Regardless of where they normally went, they sure were thirsty when I met them. They were downing the whiskeys and coke like water. This was OK, though, because the 2-kina happy hour was going strong.

By the time Stewart and his friend turned up, Medley, April, and I had been talking and drinking for half an hour. In that time, we had exchanged cell phone numbers; they had invited me to visit their village, and we had danced to several songs. Things were going fine, in other words.

Then Stewart showed up.

Medley, April, and I were still at the bar, and Stewart walked up to place an order.

“Hey, Bro,” he greeted me. “We've got a table over there.”

In the time it had taken him to place his order, I hadn't moved. Stewart took note of this and then went back to his table.

I was a bit conflicted. No matter where I decided to sit, I would offend someone.

I told the ladies that I would be back, and then I went to talk to Stewart.

Since he was a guy, Stewart obviously wasn't going to beg me to sit at his table. He did, however, make his case for why I shouldn't stay with the ladies. To paraphrase just a bit, he thought that they were bad girls.

This observation was in line with the advice several other people had given me already: You don't meet nice ladies in bars in Papua New Guinea.

I figured that Stewart was probably right, so I bought Medley and April a final drink and excused myself. They were a bit miffed that I had chosen Stewart over them, but they masked their disappointment with attitude.

Back at Stewart's table, I received a lesson on how to take full advantage of happy hour. Shortly after I sat down, the waitresses brought his order over. As they emptied their trays, our table began to look like a water station at a marathon. The entire surface of the table was covered with white plastic cups, and each contained some variety of cheap alcohol.

I had seen other tables covered with cups like this the last time I had come to the Beehive, but it didn't really register with me what was happening. Well, what was happening is that people were ordering 40 or 50 drinks at once so that they could lock in the happy hour price of 2 kinas per drink. Then they would work at clearing their tables, one drink at a time, throughout the night. This strategy would never work in the States, by the way, because most places that have happy hours of this type have a strict limit on how many drinks you can buy at once. For example, the bar I used to go to in DC that had a 25-cent beer happy hour would only allow a customer to have 2 beers at any given time.

Anyhow, Stewart ordered the three of us a boatload of drinks. This was nice and all, but I must say that I found his selections to be a bit puzzling. Of this sea of cups, there were probably only five cups at the most that contained the same thing. So we had five cups of red wine, five cups of bourbon and coke, five cups of gin and tonic, five cups of scotch and soda, and a variety of other random drinks. In order for the three of us to clear our table, we were each going to have to consume the full spectrum of drinks in one sitting.

“Who drinks like that?” I ask you.

I'll tell you who: people destined for hang-overs.

Unfortunately for me, my preferred drink is bourbon on the rocks, and Stewart didn't order a single one of these.

Not one to look a gift-horse in the mouth, though, I started drinking what was on the table along with Stewart and the other guy whose name I forget. I'll call him Trevor.

We drank and shot the breeze for a while, and then the dance floor started filling up. There were plenty of women looking for partners, so we all got called out at some point. One familiar face on my dance card was my homegirl Margaret, the security guard who had taken a liking to me the week before.

Margaret started calling me her small brother that night, which she thought was hilarious. The funny thing to her was that I was her “small brother” age-wise, although I was a good two feet taller than she was. I was her big small brother.

Coincidentally, this wasn't as funny to me as it was to her.

Anyhow, I had a few dances, and then I returned to the table.

Up to this point, I hadn't seen hide nor hair of Maymay or Cathy, and they were no longer fresh on my mind. Then Cathy, the Moresby Mangler herself, walked in the door.

She spotted me straight away and walked over to my table.

“Whazzup, Bro?” she asked me.

We went through a quick exchange of greetings, and then Cathy moved on to what was really on her mind.

“What's your involvement with that woman?” she asked. “She's got issues.”

I told her that there was nothing going on between Maymay and me. I also told her Maymay's version of the big fight.

Cathy was proud to know that she intimidated Maymay, and she verified Maymay's account of the incident, or at least the part where Maymay got pummeled. Not too surprisingly, Cathy did not agree with Maymay's assertion that she had started the fight.

Before she left to join her friends, Cathy gave me a message for Maymay. “If you see your friend,” she told me, “tell her that she doesn't need to hide from me. I won’t belt her again as long as she learns to keep her mouth shut.”

It was good to know that the hatchet was buried (sort of). I'm not sure if Maymay ever got the message, though, because I never spoke to her again. She's probably still watching her back.

After Cathy left, Stewart, Trevor, and I finished off our table full of drinks. The party at the Beehive was winding down, so Stewart suggested that we move to Ozzie's which was across town.

We were there in about 10 minutes, and who should we see in the parking lot? Why, it was none other than Medley and April, and they were hanging all over a paunchy, white-haired expat. Stewart's theory that these two were skanks panned out in the end.

Medley and April acknowledged me with a glance, and Stewart, Trevor, and I walked in to Ozzie's. It was deader than the Beehive. It was after midnight on a Wednesday in Port Moresby, and we weren't going to find much of a party no matter where we went.

We didn't need any excuses to stay out later anyway since we all had to go to work in a few hours. We had one round at Ozzie's, and then we went our separate ways. On my way out, I passed Medley and April and their elderly friend again.

My first visit to the Beehive ended with two women that I had befriended getting into a fistfight, and my second visit ended with two women that I had befriended doubling up on a geriatric with a few kinas in his pockets.

I'm almost afraid to see what's behind door number three.

1 comment:

Suzann said...

I missed Part I but I'm sure going back to read it after this. Sounds like they're right, Chris. You don't meet "nice" girls in the bars there. But have fun anyway.
hugs, Suzann