Art by Marc Hendrick
Art by Marc Hendrick

The Tournament of Masculinity: 20 October 2009

I saw former Australian rugby great, David Campese on George St in Sydney. He was driving a metallic blue BMW that was too small for him.

The car had his custom “No11″ plates on the front and back — but it didn’t look right. It was a coupè, befitting of a chic professional woman. Perhaps a slender European man — but not a retired Australian footballer. Certainly not a World Cup winnning, world record try scorer.

David Campese‘s torso, thick with middle age, looked stuffed into the vinyl cockpit. From across the road, I could see sweat bead on his forehead while his hairline retreated toward the tiny, impractical back seat.

I walked around for the rest of the day, unsure what to do with this image of a man whose posters once covered my bedroom wall.

That night in the pub — it was a Friday — I drank five beers and the answer came to me.

I waited for a pause in conversation, then went for it.

“How’s this.” I said to the half-circle of men. I told them how, only hours earlier, I’d seen a living legend. I described how I saw David “Campo” Campese steering a pale, metallic blue penis through the Sydney CBD. How the car was so small and dainty he looked like Wario or one of the oversized Mario Kart characters.

Laughter echoed off the exterior wall of the pub, off the fish shop and down the street.

I craved more laughs, but was out of data. So I took a big sip of Reschs and started making things up.

I told them that Campo was wearing a bluetooth headset while he drove and that he was yelling at someone on the other end of the phone to “print his Twitter out for him.”

I told them that Campo had a black texta in his hand, and was hanging out of the window, trying to autograph female pedestrians as they crossed at the lights.

I told them that Campo’s car was also wearing a bluetooth headset. And matching Oakley wraparounds.

I told them that the car was studying to be a PE teacher at the University of Western Sydney. That it initially wanted to go into sports physio, but hadn’t got the marks.

I kept telling them things and they kept laughing. The pub shut so we went to a different one. That pub shut so I ate some chicken and zig zagged home.

The next day i woke up on top of my covers, fully clothed, full of regret.

I’d sold out my childhood hero for laughs — and and all it got me was hungover.

jre

 James Ross-Edwards is a regular contributor at New Albion.