“Where you taking those?” said the human who was attached to the hairy, tatted, hydraulic grabbing-tool. Leaning over me was a massive Hodor/Hagrid/Hulk-like man wearing a T-shirt that said “Union & Proud” – he looked like he’d come straight from work, possibly lifting shipping containers onto ships all by himself, or digging out metro rail tunnels with his bare hands.
He was not happy: he moved in really close and said, “Those are my chairs. You don’t take people’s chairs without asking,” and I bravely stared him in the eyes and fearlessly said, “Sorry, I didn’t know they were yours. Sorry, I’ll put them right back. Sorry, here let me dust them off for you with my shirt-sleeve. Sorry, oh by the way I voted Labor in the election. Sorry, I’m sorry, really sorry … sol-idarity for-everrrrr, sol-idarity for-evvvvvvvvver …“
But he was not done with me yet. His hydraulic grabbing-tool got me in a big friendly boa-constricting headlock, my feet dangling in the air, his elbow-pit smelling of Lynx Africa and proletarian revolution. He said, “I like you so I’m not going to smash you in the face, but next time, don’t take chairs without asking, GOT IT???” Then he released me and I scampered away to my table in the corner, vowing never again to take a chair, sit in a chair, look at a chair, mingle with chairs. I would be a full-time stander from now on. FAREWELL TO SITTING, FAREWELL!
The only good news is, I survived my beer-garden encounter with my record intact. Throughout my adult life I’ve managed to avoid any kind of physical fight, and I’ve achieved this using my highly effective fight-avoiding weapons – charm, wit, diplomacy, timidity, sucky-crawliness and scampering away to hide in dark corners. I hope to continue my perfect run because I treasure the protective parts of my face that make my mouth and eyes and brain work. And my other perfect record also remained intact: avoiding buying the first three shouts, which is ideal when you’re meeting three friends.