|Not everybody gets bro hugs.|
Never ones for conformity, Fatboy and I have had our own version of Christmas (or bridal shower, depending on how you look at it) ever since Sara Markose cruelly and publicly unrequited both our advances one summer afternoon in high school many years ago. We had our first drinks together that sultry evening, our first hangovers the next morning, and everything that happened in between is just about as blurry as the line dividing Robin Thicke and violent sex offenders. Cathartic as our juvenile misdemeanors were, what we hadn't realized at the time was that we had set in motion one of the great traditions of modern bromance: the Bros' Night Out. Rules would be made, they would consequently be broken, and our little tradition would evolve over time into the cultural behemoth it is today: a night of unabashed debauchery unlike our usual trysts with the bottle, one -unlike Christmas- that can only be partaken of in the aftermath of the two greatest tragedies known to the 21st century Beta Male- heartbreak or cancellation of a beloved TV show.
Naturally, I wasn't surprised in the least when Fatboy announced a Bros' Night Out last night. I was still healing, after all, and if it hadn't been for our severely hectic schedules -he had extended his holiday in Thailand by about four weeks after hooking up with an air hostess en route, and I was juggling shedding copious tears into my Chealsea FC pillow and stalking the muse to my misery on Facebook- we would have done this long ago. I almost felt guilty about how much I was looking forward to the night as I pressed the buzzer on his door- this was the first I had felt anything resembling a will to live in weeks.
A bottle of JDF in each hand, I bowed with all the theatricality I could muster when he opened the door. "I come bearing gifts," I uttered our customary greeting, and gave him a hug, "thanks, man. I really needed this." Fatboy thumped me on the back, and said quietly, "no bro, the world needed this. Come in." So enter his old lair I did, our first time back in his childhood home since 2004. "I'm so glad you're back in Kerala," I said, as I took in the once-familiar surroundings. The place had undergone a serious make-over- there were African prints on the wall, a pair of bongo-drums served as a kind of Japanese-height coffee table, and... "dude, I think you've got bugs!". I put a finger to my lips and perked my ears- "sshh, listen. Dude, you have crickets in your house, can't you hear them?" -but Fatboy had retreated into the Tardis-styled cardboard box in the middle of the room. Thank God his mom hadn't destroyed ol' Tardis. Or the mini-fridge it housed. He came out a few seconds later, a beer in each hand.
After a long sip and that universal loving sigh that accompanies the first-sip-of-beer-of-the-night in all parts of the world, he said: "I've gone to great lengths to throw together the perfect evening, broheim. We've got authentic spirits, I've got a dart pen filled with tranqs that we may or may not use on unsuspecting neighbours knocking on our doors to turn down the vibe, I've borrowed Dad's projector to watch some amazing videographic action, and I've even designed this kickass tattoo I think we should both get. Remember, you always wanted to get brottoos? Well, tonight's the night, B-Man. Tonight, we dine in hell." It was perfect. I'd probably have choked up if I weren't so cried out of late.
"Dude, this is awesome," I managed, "Thanks man, I really apprecia..."
"The world," he interrupted, "the world will appreciate this. We're live on Youtube as we speak."
"Those stupid spy-pens finally came in handy huh," I said, "bit overboard, you think?"
"Hey, tranq the negativity, will you?" he said, "Come here, check out the tattoo I drew."
"What do you think?" he asked, after I'd inspected his artwork for what felt like an eternity spent waiting for Somebody to get her damn make-up on, and still failed to produce a sound. I didn't know how to respond. I didn't know what the hell he had drawn.
"It's a ....word, right?"
"What? Yeah, of course it's a word: Madiba.Well it's a proper noun, if that makes you happy. But what do you think? Of the message?"
"Is it some kind of code? "Madiba"? It sounds familiar, but.."
Before I knew it, Fatboy was off like a flash, switching off spy-pens installed at what seemed like completely random spots in the room.
"Are you fucking kidding me," he muttered as he ran about robbing millions of Youtubers of hours of potential manfoolery, "you're fucking kidding me."
"Dude, I'm sorry," I said, "it rings a bell, but it's kind of a distant ringing, it's not really audible, so.."
And then he switched off the lights.
"Is that really necessary?" I started, but he had turned on the projector. I turned my attention to the screen, praying to all the Gods I'd heard of that it wasn't footage he'd shot in Thailand. I had no reason to worry. For on the giant screen was Matt Damon's familiar face, crinkling in and out of focus. Well, at least it looked like Matt Damon. He seemed to have some sort of BDSM contraption in his mouth, and when he wasn't huffing and puffing, he was shouting distinctly un-Damonish inanities in a distinctly un-American accent. Oh wait, it's a game, there's a Matt Damon-ish looking bloke on the TV running up and down a football field. Just as the opposition appeared to be gearing up for a tackle, the screen froze.
"Is that bell loud enough for you?" asked Fatboy.
"What? Dude, those crickets are getting louder man, I think they're about to attack."
Fatboy hit play, then paused again. This time the screen froze with a close-up of a cheering Morgan Freeman in the stands. That's when it hit me. Madiba.
"Dude, is this a video of Invictus?"
"Oh that, you get."
"Ok, I'm going to ask you this one time, Fatass," I said, "those crickets. Is that coming from the speakers? Are you playing a recording of crickets fucking as some crazy-ass mourning thing for Nelson Mandela?"
"The world needs this, dude."
"No, you need help. Dude, this is fucking racist. And why is everybody pretending they used to call Mandela "Madiba"? I'd never even heard of the name till he died!"
"So maybe I erred on the side of propriety, a little. It's been a difficult couple of weeks."
"That's because you were ass-deep in cocaine and air hostess vag in Bangkok!"
"We all mourn differently."
"You weren't mourning. I bet you don't even know what Madiba means. I bet you just saw the name on your Twitter feed. And I thought you were doing this for me. Where's my fucking Bro's Night Out?"
"Oh, please. You and Girlfriend? You're so getting back together."
"Really? You think so? Wait, no, I will not play your mind-games, you bastard. And STOP checking your phone when I'm talking...Why are you shaking, man? What happened?"
"Oh, the humanity. What a terrible year. What a terrible, fucked up year. First Sachin Tendulkar retires, then Madi.. Mandela, now this."
"Dude, sit down. What happened? Is it bad news?"
"Oh I can't even..." he broke off, and handed me the phone, "you will not beliebe what just happened."
Icy Highs's Music Recco: Those Darlins - Waste Away