I parked my Honda Civic next to a sign that read 'Veterans Only.'
Walking into the club was like landing on the planet where barbershop quartets come from. Chattering tap shoes, frenzied jugglers, wannabe ballerinas looking ready to vomit at the slightest provocation - it was the kind of mayhem that seems light-hearted fun to a bystander and like the eighth circle of hell to anyone trapped in the middle of it.
There were children, swaddled in satin, who shrieked and wove between tables. A distraught Jack Russell whined and scratched and tried in vain to wriggle out of his tasselled bolero jacket and humilating dog-sombrero. Two toddlers assaulted a ventriloquist's dummy. An old digger went flying when the potted palm against which he was leaning tipped beneath his weight; a gaggle of ladies from the canteen scooped him up off the floor like dollop of spilt cream. And, picking his way through the scrambling crowd, an empty-handed man in a threadbare tuxedo jacket searched nervously here and there for something he'd lost. Something valuable.
Agitated, he rubbed his hands as if to make a fire in his palm.