The event took me back in time to an identical 'bill fight' in which I was one of the contenders for knighthood. But my crusade was a mere posturing, for, being low on dough, I fervently hoped to be vanquished. Yet, to my utter dismay, my friend yielded leaving me holding the baby. I grinned sheepishly owning up my 'fiscal deficit' and promptly handed over the bill to my friend. Now it was his turn to turn red-faced, for, he too was afflicted with the low-dough syndrome. We burst out laughing and went Dutch.
Distinct from the chivalrous bill-fighter is the gypping Georgie who develops allergy to the bill after an orgy of gorging. One such bloke, a classmate of ours during the college days, whom we called 'Mr Duck Bill', was a perennial cuckoo in the nest each time a flock went out for a bite. And just before the bill arrived, he flew to the washroom only to return after someone picked up the tab.
So, one day, we conspired to clip his wings. After the chow at a restaurant, we accompanied him to the washroom. When he saw us washing and re-washing our hands with calculated delay, he realised that he was in a tight corner. Then suddenly he feigned bellyache as he darted into the toilet to lock himself in and stayed put till we squared up with the waiter.
The next time around, we fine-tuned our stratagem. In a bid to outfox him, we rushed en masse to the washroom leaving him behind to watch over our belongings. At long last, we had his head well and truly on the block. Or so we thought.
For, by the time we returned after what we assumed to be a reasonable time-lag, the bill had not yet been presented. But we smelt a rat when the waiter brought the bill as soon as Mr Duck Bill took his turn to the washroom. So we put the squeeze on the waiter to make him sing. And sing he did. Apparently Mr Duck Bill had colluded with the waiter to get the bill presented in his absence by tipping him generously in advance!
Mr Duck Bill had paid the piper and called the tune. And lived up to his nickname by ducking, the bill!
TAIL PIECE: A cousin of mine had a duck-bill of his own in his office whom they named 'Mr Crime'. Reason? Because crime never pays!
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