If you’re new to the Haught blog, you might not know who the Grape Men are. In this case, you might find my introduction to the Grape Men from a few weeks ago helpful:
Yesterday I heard one of the Grape Men ask another one to help him push an empty wheelbarrow from one side of the lot to another. When the other bloke said “Why? Why you move it?” the reply was “Do I need a fuck reason?” and everyone laughed. Including me.
A few days ago I heard one of them ask another to open the bonnet of the car he was trying to start and see if he could detect any problems. The other fellow said “No. Do it youself. I’m busy.” I rushed to the kitchen window and stood on tiptoes and to my delight found that the only guy who could possibly have said “I’m busy” was sitting on a wooden crate smoking a cigarette and patting a stray cat.
Truly, these are kings among men.
Another time one bloke entered what I now think of as The Grape Yard to the exultant cheers of his colleagues. It sounded like a return of the prodigal son kind of moment, so I stood on our bed and watched events unfold through the window. The bloke would have been in his mid to late 50s, but walked with a pronounced limp. A few of the Grape Men patted him on the back and some others watched from a distance with looks of wonderment on their faces.
“So,” said the returned hero. “What you want me to do?”
There was a pause. It was almost as if giving this man an order was a form of blasphemy. Finally, the Boss Grape Man said “You want to tape up some of these fuckin’ boxes?”
“I do whatever you want me to do,” said the saint-like figure.
The Boss Grape Man guided him over to the taping area, a little mountain of polystyrene boxes, stacked with the same careful precision as a family of bogans might stack mouldering play equipment on top of a rusted Fairlane.
“So, all you do is you – ” but there were no instructions necessary.
“I know what to do,” said the new Grape Man with a quiet dignity.
He bent down slowly, his jaw clenching as some misaligned joint caught or some bunched muscle was asked to relent.
Then came the familiar tearing sound, as the man dragged the tape from its roll. Kneeling, he slowly wrapped the black tape around a box, using far more attention to detail than any of the other men I’d seen completing this task.
Behind him, seven or eight men stood in silence. One slowly rubbed his forehead as if watching a minor miracle occurring. Two or thee stood with hands slack at their sides, mouths open slightly. Another was holding a clenched fist to his mouth, apparently fighting back tears.
I didn’t quite know what was happening in front of me. I certainly didn’t know the story behind it. But I knew for certain that this was a moment of great poignancy, a moment that I was privileged to be witnessing.
The man, still kneeling, finished the box and tore the tape away with a practiced jerk of the wrist. He slowly, almost reverently, put the box onto the finished pile and reached for another.
He tried to find the end of the tape, but couldn’t. He picked and scratched at it, but was unable to get what he wanted. He stopped for a moment – I could see him inhale deeply – and then tried again. Still no luck. At this point, he broke wind with ferocity, twice. This seemed to make him lose his balance, and he toppled backwards. In a sitting position he yelled to the others “This is boring! Fuck this! It’s shit tape! Fuck! The grapes smell like dog turd!”
Then everyone laughed, another of the men farted, and everything was back to normal.
Haught fact of the day:
‘Prodigal’ is an adjective referring to reckless or wasteful extravagance, especially of money.
The Grape Men Quote of the Day:
“HEY! What’s that?”
“Just a cigarette.”
“[something in Italian]”
“Yeah well, you go fuck!”
“QUIET! PEOPLE WILL FUCKIN’ HEAR! FUCK! COME ON!”