There’s this family friend of mine who has always been better than me. We’re the same age but he’s taller, better looking, more athletic, more successful. He was always the one who easily found a job; he was always the one with cooler looking friends and even better looking girlfriends. I sort of stopped talking to him when we were twenty, when he moved to Melbourne for a job that offered him ninety thousand dollars a year plus commission. I was sort of relieved to never see him again.
One day he called me. “Hey, bro, I’m back in Brisbane. Let’s catch up.”
I drove to his apartment at Kangaroo Point and it looked exactly as I predicted it would look: it was amazing and modern and it was overlooking the river and it was the largest apartment I’d seen in my life.
“I pay over a thousand dollars a week for this,” he said.
“I hope something bad happens to you one day,” I replied.
We sat down and had a few beers and talked about our lives: he told me about his trip to Bangkok with his friends, he told me about his trip to Mexico with his girlfriend, he told me about his road trip around Germany, he told me about his soccer game, he told me about this new protein powder I should totally buy, he told me about the new Mini he bought. I told him about how I recently lost my job.
“That sucks bro, that sucks.”
He showed me his German sound system and played some Skrillex. He then went to his room and came back out to show me this tiny, baggy singlet he bought from General Pants.
He dangled it in front of me. “I wore this to Stereosonic. Did you go to Stereosonic?”
“I didn’t go to Stereosonic.”
“You missed out.” He showed me his Stereosonic photos on Facebook with his large Mac monitor. They were mainly photos of him with his guy friends with their arms around each other while grinning at the camera. They all had big chests and short shorts and loose singlets and large sunglasses and slightly spiky hair, and once in a while they’d be joined by girls who also had big chests and wore short shorts and loose singlets and large sunglasses. They all had fake tans.
He made me have a drink of his protein shake before we headed out to the Bowery, where he bought us both some whiskey.
“You know the protein I use in my protein shakes?” He asked me while texting someone else.
“It’s only ninety bucks for a large sack of it. I like it because it has no flavour. You want some?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess so.”
“Alright, I’ll buy you some. Look at your arms. They need more muscle. And as I told you, you need to start eating better snacks. Have more almonds and tuna.”
We then bought some wine and then some beer and then some more wine. I kept ordering drinks for him; I wanted him to become as drunk as he’d ever been.
“What did you want to be when you were a kid?” I asked him.
“Married,” he said.
“I wanted to be Spiderman,” I said.
“You know, in Melbourne, when I first started working there, I used to go clubbing all the time. My manager was an absolute druggo. We’d go out every second evening and snort or take pills and just have these fucking intense nights and rock up to work the next morning, completely knackered. I had all this money, and I was spending it like no tomorrow but to be honest, it was the best money I’d spent in my life. It was the first time I spent money without actually feeling guilty about it, it was like I was actually using money for what it was originally meant for, which was like, to have fun.
“Anyway one night, we were pretty high and one of my manager’s friends was in this complete Spiderman costume. Mask and everything. Like, he never removed the costume. He just wore it the entire night, and no one seemed to care except me.”
I kept looking at my friend, thinking that he’d continue the story. But he didn’t. “Then what the hell happened?”
“I’m over all of that,” he said, completely ignoring my question. “Sometimes I can’t believe it.” He smiled contently. “Here I am in Brisbane, having an easy night out with an old friend and drinking whiskey.”
“You’re drinking wine now.”
“Here I am, drinking wine.”
Soon after, a girl approached him. She smiled and said something into his ear and he smiled and said something back. She slapped his arm playfully and continued to speak into his ear. Placing her hand on his shoulder, she pointed towards some girls in the distance, and he nodded, and she hurried off.
My friend turned to me. “Some girls are joining us soon.”
“Who are they?”
“I’ve lived my entire life thinking that it was the guy who had to approach the girl.”
“Really?” was all he said.
They arrived. The girl who approached him was incredibly attractive. She looked so attractive that her other friends, who I may have called pretty in any other occasion, looked like glum little shadows. Did I also look like a glum little shadow?
The night escalated into laughter and terrible dancing and wild drinking (I made sure that my friend was having twice more than I was). We moved from the Bowery to Ric’s to Cloudland to somewhere else, to somewhere else, and then to somewhere else. I couldn’t believe it – my friend was a machine. He had so much alcohol yet looked like he was in complete control. The women stood around him, swirling around him like a tornado of vultures, ready to have their turn. I looked at him with my drunken shame and drunken envy and drunken intensity: I needed to vomit, but before I did I had to embarrass him somehow. Things had been too easy for him. I had to be a good friend and humble him that one tiny bit.
“This is for your own good, you fucker!” I rushed up to him and pulled his pants down, underwear and all.
Everyone gasped, especially me. We all looked at it in fear and awe and everything else; we were hypnotised: the bastard had the largest penis anyone had ever seen.