A satirical look at dating in the late seventies? A confirmation that too much alcohol is never a good idea when you’re on the pull? Or proof that when you stop living for others, you might just find out who you really are.
Samantha’s life is seemingly perfect – great clothes, great job, great boyfriend – until she finds out she’s going to get the sack if she doesn’t shag her boss and her boyfriend’s shagging someone else. But at least the clothes are still retro fab.
Fleeing to Melbourne, Australia to avoid her well-placed revenge biting her on the bum, Sam’s enjoying singledom when she runs into a macho Italian with a penchant for garlic. It’s not until she’s sober that she finds out he calls his appendage after a popular luncheon meat and would be a shoo-in for a bit-part on Planet of the Apes. Add to this a nasty habit of stalking, and Sam’s love-live is once again in tatters.
Friday Night Fever is a laugh-out-loud, feel good novel for women who know what it’s like please others to the detriment of themselves. It’s also about girlfriends sticking together when it comes to taking out the 'trash'. This is something Sam, Jennie and Brenda do with much hilarity all while teetering around in platforms the size of family blocks of cheese.
Sam squares her shoulders and rolls another liquorice allsort of white internal memo, coloured copy paper and dark blue carbon into her IBM golf ball typewriter. Yet more drivel from Peter Crisp, her boss.
Crispy Critter is thirty-five going on 50 and middle management right down to the comb-over and a body that looks as though it’s been put together like custard. He’s a cheap bastard who drives a Nissan Sunny with rust flakes so bad that anything over 60kph make it look positively autumnal.
As her platform shoe hits the foot control of the Dictaphone, Crispy’s nasal voice fills her head. “To Barry Davison, R17 Forestry Project, Y/E 31 March 1979. Barry, please call me at your earliest convenience to discuss.”
This is followed by asthmatic breathing, but nothing else.
If that’s all that’s in your sodding memo, why don’t you pick up the phone and ring him, ya lazy prick?
Sam hears these words as clearly as Crispy’s and the golf ball spits them out onto the memo paper.
Rolling the wad of paper out of her typewriter, she holds the lot in one corner and flaps it until the sheets of carbon drop limply onto her desk.
Mrs Darren Walters. Mrs Darren Walters. Mrs Darren Walters.
Sam’s expecting Darren to make it official the following weekend when he’s up from the base on one of his regular fortnightly visits.
Her hand once again strays to the handle of the top drawer of her dark, walnut veneer desk. She slides it open just enough that she can gaze at a picture of Darren in his army fatigues, sent with one of his many letters.
God, he’s hot.
Looking at her soon-to-be fiancé reminds Sam how important her well-paid, shitty job really is. Her goal of saving enough money for a wedding more over-the-top than her parents are willing to pay for is getting closer every day. It’s only the thought of a five-tier cake, live band and bucket-loads of frangipani that have stopped her telling her boss[A1] to shove it.
Taking a ring off her right hand, she puts it onto the wedding finger of her left. Joy bubbles away when she holds her hand under the light spilling from the Anglepoise lamp on her desk. She admires the wedded look but, hearing the elevator ding its arrival, turns it from married to stretching before putting her hand under the desk and swapping the ring back. As the elevator doors open, she automatically smiles at the new arrivals, but rather than head in her direction they disappear down the corridor.
Retyped without additions, she takes the one-line wonder into Crispy’s office for his signature and waits patiently while he goes through his usual wank of reading it, with fountain pen poised expectantly. Then, after enough time that he could have proofed the Magna Carta, he signs his chicken-scratch signature with the flourish of minor royalty.
Back at her desk, she finds Mrs Johnson from Personnel waiting for her. This is the woman who’d first interviewed her for the job. A second-hand car salesman couldn’t have done a better sell on how great the job was.
One careful lady owner, my arse!
“How are you settling in? You’re not finding it too challenging?”
“No. We typed more than this at secretarial school.”
“Is that right?” Mrs Johnson unclasps the large tan diary that has been protecting her meagre bosom, swings it open and scribbles furiously before snapping it closed. It’s back on boob patrol seconds later.
Before the woman can ask anything else, a bellowed, “Sam, in here, now!” erupts from her boss’s office.
Mrs Johnson’s mouth drops open at the tone, but she remains mute.
Sam picks up her pad and pen and heads into Crispy’s office and sits down, although it hardly seems worth it. The stuff she takes down in shorthand is as wordy as that on the micro cassettes he leaves in his heavily brass-detailed out-tray.
“Shut the door.” His voice is controlled, with a hard edge.
She jumps to do his bidding. A confidential memo would make a nice change.
Her hand is still on the doorknob when he starts berating her.
“How dare you discuss my work with that woman.” His voice is low, as though he suspects Mrs Johnson is still hovering.
“But she—” Sam turns towards him.
“What happens in this office is none of her business,” he hisses.
Sam looks down at Berber carpet, the colour of camel dung, before stuttering, “But I ... only told the truth ...”
“Good god, the truth is the last thing that woman needs to hear. Now I’ll have to stop her riffling through every damn piece of correspondence I’ve ever produced. Any more screw ups like that and I’ll have to let you go.”
“Yes, Mr Crisp,” says Sam, in a small voice.
Mrs Darren Walters. Mrs Darren Walters. Mrs Darren—
“Of course, we could discuss it over a few drinks.”
She groans inwardly; god, not again. “I’ll have to ask my, ah, fiancé if it’s all right.”
“It could be our little secret. We wouldn’t need to let anyone know.”
Especially not your wife, you cretin.