Bad Boys, Big Gals & Watering Holes

For illustration purpose. A busy street in Kuala Lumpur lined with dining outlets and pubs.

By Trailerman Sam

A watering hole in American slang means a bar, nightclub, or other social gathering place where alcoholic drinks are sold. Strong stuff like draught beer, stout or gin & tonic, where its kick hits you slow and steady, unlike tequila where one shot will cause a tremor running up all over your body, mind and soul.

Sounds like I’m brewing this sentence from experience? Right on!

No thanks to my work at a watering hole where the art of swaying a beer mug on top of a bar counter began just at 18. It was at place was called The Hide Away at the then RAAF Centre in Tanjong Tokong, Penang in the late 70s. (No, you won’t find this place now – it has been replaced with a swanky shopping mall!).

In those days, just RM5 can get you walking proudly chest out, have a jolly good time and then crawl back home as a super cold draught beer was only at 65 sen per mug. And 35 sen during Happy Hours! Now if those prices couldn’t make one happy, what else could? Those were the days!

A trick I inherited from my supervisor was to pour a “mistaken” drink intentionally for its contents will never go down the sink. We’d take away the ice cubes and then hope no one would order that same drink l– Captain Morgan Black Rum & Coke or whatever.

If the “mistaken” drinks were still sitting at the corner just before we bartenders call it a night, we’d be allowed to gulp them down in one go, This allowed us to shake off our stress at the bar, with us singing “By The Rivers Of Babylon” with that slim and pretty cashier. Till this day, I still can’t figure it out how she could maintain her svelte outline despite having a daily dose of black stout in a tall glass!

About a decade or less later, through no fault of mine, an opportunity to manage or “take over” a watering hole in Bukit Mertajam popped up in a profit-sharing arrangement. “Big Boy”, it was called.

Its regulars were people who drank and drank but often trained their eyes on the sole female singer. But whenever she sang Paul Anka’s “I Don’t Like to Sleep Alone” with the lone male organist, the guys would somewhat be put off or felt pangs of jealousy. I don’t know why or how that came about.  

But truth be told, it seemed the entertainers themselves had a platonic relationship, an inter-connection with no romantic or sexual notions, but it meant more than “just friends”. According to ancient philosopher Plato, for whom the concept is named, this bond is a type of love experienced when we identify the positive qualities in the other person.

With the regular attendees not happy with Paul Anka’s choice of the song title or the entertainers themselves or the bald-headed pub owner, I decided to spice things up, being the manager there. I chose to run darts competitions with attractive prize money and loads of beer, thus attracting teams from near and far. At one time, even a Malaysian national champion strolled in!

To make the atmosphere even more appealing, I had support from a female friend who ran a hair salon. She would show up with her team of Big Girls after their closing hours. With their Poison scents (or other head-spinning aromas) swooning the whole pub, the girls didn’t have to pay a single sen for their food and drinks as there were more than enough eager-beaver sponsors! Every night was a full house!

At times, we ran out of cold draught beer for the ever-jolly intoxicated Bad Boys and lovely Big Girls. When that happened, the heavier stuff would start to flow like water…whiskey, brandy, run, tequila, gin, vodka…you name it!

During those heady days, it was like an “eight days a week” (remember that song by The Beatles?) affair to the extent some patrons branded the joint as their second home! They spent more time there than home-sweet-home!

It was a mighty good run for two years until Bald-headed Eagle started thinking that I may have great potential to drive a Porsche (instead of a trailer) and perhaps even marrying his one and only daughter.

He came up with a new set of “Ali Baba” agreement or agreement: He upped the rent, I was to run the show and he’d milk the cash from it. Bald-headed Eagle thought he could take me for suckers. But I showed him the middle finger because it was an utterly lop-sided deal.

Being only 28 at that time, it was indeed a bitter pill to swallow, suddenly being awakened by the reality of back-stabbing opportunists lurking in the shadows, thinking that they should be the ones reaping the rewards.

On my last night at Big Boy, it was free flow all the way for the Bad Boys and Big Girls. The last I heard was that Big Boy didn’t become a Big Man as the regulars started deserting the place.  

The only regret after leaving the pub was not being in the company of six lovely and bubbly SYWs (sweet young waitresses) who had rented a double-storey house just a stone’s throw from the pub along with me!

Trailerman Sam, a popular silver-haired living soul from Lunas, Kedah, is much sought-after for his ways of the world and views. When not helping the young, middle-aged or old, he is writing feverishly, drinking plenty of coffee or probably star or planet gazing. He can be reached at

The views expressed here are that of the writer’s and not necessarily that of Weekly Echo’s.