I was minding my own business in the ladies room of the Birdsville pub when Helen rushed in, demanding I lift my shirt with her for the grinning fools at the bar. The exhibitionist inside me screamed for attention. “Get rid of that ugly shirt,’ the voice yelled at me. ‘You look terrible in blue.’
I pondered the possibilities, briefly. The happy faces that would greet me. The knowing smiles. The possibilities of free beer. At $6.50 a can that would almost be worth it, the miser in me thought.
The popularity of a flasher is undeniable. The drunken lads would remember my breasts, surely. And I could make some new friends.
Helen’s face grinned wildly at me, her face flushed with flashing-fuelled adrenalin.
She seemed to be having so much fun. More fun than I was bloody-well having with my shirt, singlet, jacket and chastity belt on.
‘Let me out, let me out,’ my breasts screamed, knowing there was a party outside that would rival the shearers coming to town after a dry season.
I could feel my shirt starting to bust open. The excitement in that dimly lit bathroom was almost too much to handle.
Then suddenly, I collected myself, heaved my camera over my shoulder and realised I was at work. I was a small-town journalist with a (good) reputation to build. Also, I was no longer an insecure 16-year-old that thought the only way to be noticed was to show your rack to the eligible and, let’s face it, less-than-eligible men partying away in the paddock.
Oh yes, that horrible, fun-killing voice of reason does exist in my head. That should please my mother.
But at what cost, I wondered as Helen began handing out ‘Helens melons’ bumper stickers and t-shirts. Yes, she missed the apostrophe, but no one cared and, yes, it is ironic that a flasher was handing out t-shirts. But the fun that lady was having was off any scale I could design with my magic markers.
I firmly believe there are benefits to losing the shirt and I respect Helen for owning the flasher title for one of the wildest weekends I have seen in a few springs. I reckon a quick shirt-lift removes the pressure of thinking up witty banter in conversations with strangers. You can become a sensation regardless of the size of your breasts. Also, you will make the lads smile, and that is as nice as bringing a cup of tea to someone’s swag when they are hungover.
But what does it say about dignity and sharing. What are those selfish fellers giving back? And I’m really not encouraging the guys to get their weapons out at the bar, that’s not classy at all. It’d just be nice if some of the cute farmers had decided to do away with their shirts. In a down-to-earth, innocent way, of course.
The other issue is about impressions. A lady who dispenses with her top as quickly as she can down a can of XXXX is perhaps less likely to find a lad who will take her seriously. Or maybe that is just my experience.
I reckon that a sense of mystique can also create an impression. Then again, no one wants a bumper sticker that says ‘Smiley Penny’.
Despite the banter, at Birdsville, I decided not to flash the crowd.
After all, there’s probably only room for one flasher at a time in the desert. And I’d hate to compete with Helens melons. They were enormous!