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    Wombat Bill
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Max and Charles - 1. CATERING WITH BENEFITS

Craig and Justin had been running the successful business, Catering With Benefits, for two years. They had started small, just catering for cocktail parties and other small private functions. The benefits part of the trading name referred to the unique way they served the food. Since marriage equality was legalised in Australia in December 2017 they had turned their talents to catering for weddings and expanded into wedding planning. All their weddings so far had been for young couples, so it was with a mixture of excitement and curiosity that they headed off to meet a couple in their seventies to discuss plans for their wedding.

Max and Charles both met Craig and Justin at the door of their home in Bondi.

“Welcome boys, so glad you could come.”

“Now what can we get you boys to drink?”

They all settled own with their drinks and snacks on the small deck at the back of the house.

“This is a very comfortable home you have here” observed Craig “Have you been here long?”

“About forty years now.” replied Max,

“That long” said Justin in complete surprise “So how long have you been together?”

“Nearly fifty years.”

“How did you guys get together when you did not have social media or bars to meet?”

“In our case it was a bit of an accident.”

“Or an accident avoided” said Charles.

“That’s right Charles” said Max “Back in those days Hyde Park was a common place to meet other men. The best spot was by the Archibald fountain. Do you know that?”

“Yes of course” replied Justin “So what happened, how did you know who was gay and who not?”

“Well, even in those days we relied on what you now call gaydar, although we didn’t have a name for it then, it was just a feeling you got from observing the other men around the fountain. I was sitting on a nearby seat watching for men loitering around the fountain and waiting for one that took my fancy. While I was waiting I saw three men nearby that were walking around together and talking between themselves. But they did not strike me as being camp, as we were called then.”

“How did you know?”

“Firstly it was unusual for groups of men to hang around together. Usually men were alone until they found someone and then left the park quickly so as not to appear suspicious. Secondly these three had an air of trouble about them. They would be laughing one minute and then doing things like punching a fist into the other hand. That made me very worried.”

“So what did you think they were there for?”

“Trouble is the short answer. I was thinking they could either be undercover police trying to entrap men into making an approach to them or they were just out for a bit of fag bashing. It was a popular sport back then.”

“Bugger me” exclaimed Justin.

“Nice choice of words.” replied Max “Anyway, while I was watching these blokes looking for a mark I saw Charles walking around the fountain. I had not made up my mind if I was going to approach him, he did not really seem my type. But then I noticed they seemed to be looking at him and pointing also. I stood up and walked closer to the fountain and was thinking of walking straight past and out of the park so that I would not get involved with the troublemakers. As I was walking past Charles I heard a noise behind me and someone said ‘get him’ but I did not know who they were talking about. I thought if I run they may chase me and I would be on my own. If it was Charles they were talking about should I help him. Figuring there might be safety in numbers I rushed towards Charles and hustled him away from the approaching trio and towards a couple of other men nearby. That meant we were then a group of four and the commotion attracted the attention of others who also came towards us. The trio ran right past us and left the park. I guess they felt outnumbered by then.”

“And?” asked Craig

“Well we went for a drink at the Marble Bar to calm our nerves and the rest, as they say, is history.”

“And you are still together all these years later?”

“Yes, and that’s really what we want to talk to you about. It will be our fiftieth anniversary in two months and we would like to have a special celebration.”

“Wow, that is really something worth celebrating” said Justin

“So are you asking us to cater for your celebration.” suggested Craig

“That’s right boys, but it won’t just be a party, we are going to get married.”

“Wow, that is fabulous, it will be our first wedding for an older couple, if you don’t mind me saying so.” said Justin.

“Not at all. Now may I ask if you are a couple?”

“Yes, we have been together for three years now.”

“So you boys have not married yet.” asked Charles.

“No, I guess we have not thought about it really, and I am a bit surprised that gentlemen of your years would want to get married after all those years together”.

“It’s not just for young people you know. But I see what you mean.”

Max added “Well gentlemen of our age have seen the tough times and the better times and now the good times. Over the years we have joined protest groups, marched for our rights, lobbied those in power and generally fought for equality. So after all those efforts we owe it to those who fought alongside us and those who went before us to celebrate what has been won.”

“That’s a good way of looking at it” added Craig. “So have you set a date yet?”

“Yes we have.”

Copyright © 2020 Wombat Bill; All Rights Reserved.

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