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Recipe for Prawn Balls
...First catch your prawn
©1997 Duncan R Fry
Sometimes when you work night after night with prima donna bands from from the inner suburban whine bar circuit, you forget just how nice some artists can be to work with. Although there are some musicians that you wouldnt piss in their ear if their brain was on fire, on the other hand you can be lucky and get to work with genuinely talented people who really do appreciate the amount of hard work you put in every night.
My trusty assistant Jim and I did a lot of work with an artist who had built up an enormous following just through constant touring. No records, just the steady grind of gig after gig after gig. How he stayed enthusiastic about it I'll never know.
He was an incredibly nice guy to work for, not at all big headed and never suffered from Pop Star syndrome, or 'Egotisticus Arseholio' as the doctors call it. He was from the country and had led a relatively sheltered life until he discovered the entertainment business. But he did have one failing - as soon as he felt that you knew what you were talking about, he believed every word you said. Very risky!
Naturally with such trust the opportunity for practical jokes frequently arose, and by and large I resisted, but sometimes I would weaken.
We were all in Cooma, in the Snowy Mountains, doing a gig, and Jim and I had gone to the Fish and Chip shop and come back with two big wrapped hot bundles when we bumped into...the star. Let's call him Pete.
Hey, come on into my room, said Pete, I'm just having some dinner myself.
OK we said, and went in. Jim and I opened up our bundles and started munching.
I had restricted myself to basic fish and chips, but Jim had ventured into the realms of gourmet delights, and was happily crunching on some crunchy batter filled things.
What've you got there, Jim? asked Pete.
Oh, just some prawn balls, said Jim in between munches.
What? said Pete in disbelief
Prawn balls, repeated Jim. They're real nice. Like to try one?
Pete still stared in disbelief at Jim.
Prawn balls? he said, But...but...they must be TINY!
Jim and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. Pete looked at us, not getting the joke. So we explained.
Pete, we said, They're balls made of prawn, not prawn's balls! There is a difference!
Well, old Pete laughed so much that I thought he wouldn't be able to do the show that night. He told us that he had always eaten meat, and had never tried seafood at all.
Never? Jim and I couldnt believe it, but it gave me an idea for a practical joke we could play on the unsuspecting star.
At a secondhand bookshop I had bought an old book called The Compleat Practical Joker, a history of great japes that had been played on unsuspecting people, and one of them concerned oysters. I let Jim in on it and we got prepared.
The next night we bought our normal fish and chips, but got half a dozen oysters each as a special treat. We made sure we had them out on display as Pete walked past.
Wow, what've you got there boys? he asked
Just some oysters, Pete I replied. Would you like one?
Oh I don't know, he replied. I've never tried them before.
Well, suit yourself, I replied, But theyre delicious. You dont know what youre missing. Jim and I are just going to get stuck into them, so if you want to try one you'd better have it now before we gobble them all up.
Pete looked thoughtful.
Jim piped up
They're really nice, Pete, and the fish shop said these were fresh in today from Tassie.
Well...maybe Pete hesitated. OK - I'll have one. Might as well try them out, eh?
We agreed, and I handed him the little cardboard dish with the oysters sitting in it. He picked up an oyster by the shell, sniffed it, tipped it up and slurped it down.
Jim and I leaped to our feet, pretending to be horrified.
Shit a brick Jim, I said, Did you see that? He's eaten it alive!
Holy shit! said Jim, rolling his eyes upwards.
What's wrong? asked Pete, looking worried. All I did was let it slide down.
Yes but you've eaten it alive. You're supposed to kill them first, we said. Now it'll wriggle around in there for ages.
I smacked my hand to my head. Jeez, I gasped, What if it's pregnant? It might breed in there and then God knows what'll happen.
Oh no, gasped Pete, turning greenish gray the thought of this. Ooooh, I think something's wrong - I'm sure I can feel it moving. He clutched his guts and looked pale. Urgh, what'll I do?
It's not looking good, mate. said Jim seriously.
I grabbed a bottle of Tabasco sauce that we had bought from the supermarket. $3 seemed like a good investment for all the fun we were having!
Here Pete, you'd better take a real good swig of this sauce. It's what we put on them to kill them before we eat them. You'd better drain the bottle if you can. That way you'll have the best chance. Here, let me open it for you.
I twisted the top off and gave him the little bottle. He gave it a couple of mammoth swigs and then his face went red, then purple. I thought he was going to explode.
Aaah, shit, I'm burning up inside...Urrrgh...
His hands feverishly scrabbled inside his mouth, which was nearly turned inside out, dribble streaming out of it.
Aaah,hot, hot, aagh he yelled
It was too much for Jim and me. We collapsed to our knees laughing, unable to keep straight faces any longer.
Pete looked at us through his fiery haze, and suddenly twigged that maybe, just maybe, we were having a lend of him.
Shit - you bastards, he yelled, picking up the remaining oysters and fish and chips, and throwing them at us as we rolled helplessly around the floor clutching our ribs, both laughing like drains!
Eventually he calmed down, and took it all in good fun. But he was never quite so trusting again!
This story first appeared in Connections magazine