3 August 1999
Of course, what we all want is to be single with no kids again," the Lawyer announced at a dinner party last Saturday. It's an incantation I often mutter under my breath, especially as I spent the evening with my arms folded in order to disguise where little Liability tried to conceal a chocolate finger as we were leaving - "in case dinner wasn't very nice". On the other hand, I do object to the Lawyer trying to wish away the children in public. So to remind everyone what it would be like to be a lad again, I told them the story of the Young Elkhorns' trip to Marbella.
The Young Elkhorns are one of those "Save the World by Playing Golf" sort of fraternities, who like to get away to the farthest edge of Spain and indulge in grown-up pleasures like drinking concoctions with flames shooting out the top, and over-tipping the waitress, probably in the hope of igniting a similar reaction.
On their last trip, they ended up in a bar with folk dancing, and rounded off a handsome paella with an evil local digestive. Perhaps it was petrol, because if you didn't drink it fast enough it evaporated. By 11pm one of the party really did hope to make the waitress ignite in passion, and was propped up against her in the kitchen doorway explaining how his wife didn't understand him. Another had succumbed to the grape and was face down in the bread basket. But the other four found themselves enchanted by the music, and, drawn on to the floor in a way generally only seen with Abba's Dancing Queen, performed the legal equivalent of the Dance of the Seven Veils, while the audience shouted for a bit more to come off than simply the shirts and baseball caps. It was during one particularly ambitious attempt at break dancing that someone obtained two black eyes and an ankle got broken, but as the sufferer didn't realise until the following morning, we can pass quickly on.
As soon as they got up, the little local beggar-boys carried out a rapid round of jacket pockets and lifted their wallets, neat as a pin - leaving them facing disaster when it came to paying the bill. Of course, you or I would explain things to the bar owner, especially as a police report is generally considered necessary for the insurance claim, but all the music and dancing had made them reckless, and so they did a runner. How they managed it without being spotted - with one member of the party comatosed and another who had to be physically dragged off the waitress - I don't know, but they ended up on the beach, running into the waves and giggling at midnight.
And then they seemed to see, as if written in the stars, that terrible word "disbarred". The publicity, the shame, the terrible loss of earnings (no one compares to a lawyer for a guilty conscience). Luckily, they realised that the sleeping partner still had his bumbag on him, slightly damp now, with his secret stash of cash. They quickly relieved him of the burden, and sent their budding Don Juan back with the money, probably a mistake as they then had to wait several hours to learn that they were free men. But he did come back - and with a smile on his face.
By this point in the story the Lawyer was looking daggers at me, and the audience was clamouring to know which one he had been. He was actually Mr Bumbag, and he never knew until now a) how his best silk shirt got salt-stained, and b) where all his money had gone; it was Don Juan who told me at the Christmas party.