Award-winning* journalist Don Gordon-Brown has offered a further chapter in his soon-never-to-be-released autobiography of his turbulent years at Gatton agricultural college.
What is it with adolescent men and penises and the things that hang below them? Other than their own, I mean. Except of course unless they’re pillowbiters? Shirtlifters? Those who drill for vegemite? Those who enjoy riding the chocolate cha-cha? This is more difficult to explain than I thought it would be.
Let’s assume we’re talking heterosexual men just past pubescence. I’m pretty sure in my first year at college in 1966, all 180 first-year diploma enrolments were as straight as the day is long; campus was like Bob Katter Jnr’s federal seat of Kennedy – there wasn’t a poof to be seen, let alone freckle punched senseless in or outside a men’s toilet.
So let’s start again. A young man’s fascination with his own penis and testicles is totally understandable. What a remarkable piece of hydraulic equipment is the penis. What a pleasure to behold. The power of the thing; the amazing role it plays in the very survival of the human race. Always on the lookout for action. All made possible by a set of gonads that in men of that age are hanging loose, full of juice and ready for use. Or near enough to. Overall, an amazing set of equipment. Worth a pull or a scratch any day of the week.
That would explain why my first-year room-mate Michael Hunt would stand by his bed for minutes each and every morning, cupping his plums, stroking his cock upwards to see how far past his belly-button it went. The smile on his face always suggested he thought his hands simply weren’t big enough to do his wedding tackle justice.
No, I’m talking of a group of young men – heterosexual men – who loved nothing better than to roam the QAC dormitories in early 1966 – as others supposedly had done for the best part of a century before them – to sexually assault and thoroughly humiliate fellow boarders. Yes, I’m talking greasing parties.
Why we – I mean – they – did this was always a mystery to me: was some sort of bizzare sexual amusement or gratification gotten out of holding down some poor, terror-stricken lad, ripping off his regulation khaki college shorts and using a brush to apply nugget boot polish or raven’s oil all over his private parts?
To the best of my recollection, I was never a greasor. I was a greasee and the time waiting for your turn to come in those early weeks was very stressful – imagine being strapped to the base of madame guillotine and listening to the executioner cussing while trying to work out why the release clip hadn’t activated properly and with the military band muttering about when to resume their drum roll. It was a tense and frightening time.
I can’t say every greasee fretted over an attack. I haven’t been able to confirm this but I once heard that Doug Murray down on Thynne dormitory used to leave a brush and a full tin of Nugget’s brown shoe polish and a bottle of raven’s oil outside his room door just in case they ran out of supplies. The brush was of stiff wire and stolen from the welding workshop, and Dougie preferred the raven’s oil because it stung more. And this was after he had already been done a number of times.
Usually you suffered only the one attack – an initiation into the ranks of the sexually humiliated. You went onto a mental list and were left alone after that. Which is really quite funny when you think of it: people who are black-balled normally get excluded from general society and its activities.
I don’t know whether the greasors finally turned on themselves and eventually everybody got done. Nor do I know whether the tradition survived the college’s transition to a tertiary institution. Those coming to college for degree-level courses after completing Senior were on average two years older, so maybe such childish hijinks were beyond them or they were much more focused by that stage on genitalia of an entirely different appearance.
But back to 1966. I remember one greasing attack without much fondness. I was in the showers in Shelton, face to the wall and counting my pubes and hoping their number had doubled, when the greasors finally got around to “Wanger” Williams. Maybe it was simply a case of needing to wait to stockpile sufficient supplies?
I can’t even recall whether he was embarrassed about this but Wanger had become half aroused by the attack and when he stepped onto the communal shower stand right beside me to wash the gunk off himself, I quickly looked up to see if the room had electric fans. It was pretty clear to me that if Wanger became fully erect, a serious accident beckoned.
Do you get my drift? Here was a guy who could win a three-legged race on his own. Rolf Harris’s Jake the Peg had to be written afterwards and Wanger surely must have been the inspiration for the hit song. If there’s ever been a better nickname coined for a bloke, that best summed up a man and his parts, I’ve yet to hear it.
I bumped into Wanger in George Street in Brisbane some years after college. I was walking along with my then bride-to-be and excited to see him, I didn’t hesitate: “Christine,” I said, “I’d like you to meet…”
And here’s where it got difficult. How do you introduce someone who you have only ever known as “Wanger”. So after a little pause I had to say: “Christine, I’d like you to meet ….Wanger”. What else could I do? I think I got away with it.
It’s only since doing research for this book that I found out that Wanger’s actual Christian name was Schlong. Only joking. I’ve done fuck- all research for this book and I still don’t know what his first name is but my best guess is Dick.
* Meat-tray winner, final raffle for the night, Warren’s Bar, National Hotel, Brisbane. May 28, 1973.