’Pong and I are standing on the balcony at Sydney nightclub Arq, looking down at the continuing awards ceremony. Nearby someone asks whether the women currently on stage are “the lesbian singers” he’s seen before.
“What’s a lesbian singer?” I ponder aloud in a stage whisper. “Is that like a horse whisperer?”
’Pong glares, unimpressed. His energy levels are low, he’s not in the mood. My friend Nate, not exactly what you’d call the shy retiring type, has encouraged my heckling of the drag queens hosting the event, and ’Pong and Nate’s boyfriend Chris have both been uncomfortable.
Then another loud stage whisper emerges from a leather-clad bear standing on the other side. “No,” he says, “That would be a fish whisperer.”
The bear’s boyfriend’s eyes catch ’Pong and Chris, “Oh no, here we go again,” they seem to say. Strangers bond, wishing they could disown their partners.
Later, ’Pong takes me aside to explain that he’s exhausted, that he’s having trouble focussing on what he needs to do tonight. He’s trying to make a good impression on important people, and my rowdy mood isn’t appreciated.
And just as he finishes that speech, Nate bounces up my side, eyes wide with child-like excitement, proudly brandishing a bunch of green tickets. “Look! More free drink vouchers!”