Scott Morrison came through the crowd like a bad acid trip. He was dressed in a brown bear outfit, the face removed to reveal a beaming, bespectacled mug. People slapped his back, shook his hand and called out "ScoMo".
He approached me and I accepted his hand. The grip was firm like it was when we first met while studying economic geography together at the University of New South Wales three decades ago.
We met again at a recent UNSW reunion - the theme fancy dress, the party held on a cold Sydney night under the stars by an infinity pool. A four-piece band played 1980s covers: Funky Town blared.
"Mark Bode!" Morrison said. "Where the bloody hell have you been?"
"It's a long story."
He looked at his wristwatch. "I've got about five minutes to spare, so fire away."
"Do you really want to hear my life story?"
"Sure. I've often thought about you over the years. You were, after all, responsible for prompting me to change my image, and, as a result, win the heart of Lisa. I know you remember that; I read your column. You're a naughty boy, Mark."
The column he referred to was entitled "I knew ScoMo when he was called Miami". In it I detailed how Morrison successfully pursued Lisa - a drop-dead gorgeous blonde, the most beautiful girl at UNSW whilst we were there.
When I first met Morrison his look had been inspired by Tom Selleck's Magnum PI character. After Lisa cruelly rebuffed his advance, I suggested an image update.
A few days later, I was shocked to discover he had morphed into a lame counterfeit of Don Johnson's Miami Vice character.
I was even more shocked when Lisa fell for him. Now, all these years later, he was PM. And I was about to deliver a speed-dating version of my unfortunate life, as he leaned in closer - a "bear" with a cocked ear.
"Where to start?" I said. "OK. This is the sad truth. After uni I descended into a heroin-addiction hell that lasted almost 20 years and included me working as a low-rent gay prostitute.
"I destroyed all my relationships because I was a junkie, a liar and a thief. When I finally got clean, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had my balls removed.
"My life started to turn around when I placed an online ad looking for a partner. I decided to be honest, writing that I was emotionally damaged, broke and ball-less.
"My future wife appreciated my candor. Then, after nine years of marriage and two children, she left me for my Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor.
"That sent me into a meth-ravaged spiral which I finally emerged from three years back, only to be told by my mother on her deathbed that I was adopted as a baby and she grew to hate me. But apart from that I'm doin' OK. Can't complain."
My head dropped and I sobbed. Morrison embraced me, holding me to his faux-fur bosom. "You poor, poor man. Daddy Bear will make you feel better."
"What?" I said, extricating myself from his grip.
He placed a hand on my shoulder. "I said, Daddy Bear will make you feel better."
"Yeah, I heard you the first time. What the hell does that mean?"
He chuckled, then said: "This must seem very strange."
"Of course it does. You're the prime minister, you're wearing a bear costume and you just called yourself Daddy Bear while holding me. In truth, this whole scene is batshit crazy. And I know crazy like a maggot knows goop."
"Allow me to explain."
"Daddy Bear is my new image, which I plan to introduce to the public."
"Are you serious? You're gonna wear that ridiculous outfit and call yourself Daddy Bear?"
He chuckled. "No, of course not. That would be insane. Daddy Bear is how I will project myself upon the public. I'll be someone who comforts Australians, but who can be firm when needed."
"You know what? If anyone else said that I'd laugh in their face. But after you reinvented yourself as Miami and got Lisa, oversaw the initially derided but hugely successful 'So where the bloody hell are you?' tourism campaign and won an unwinnable election by casting yourself as a daggy, bonza bloke, I reckon your new image is pure genius."
"Thanks. I appreciate that."
"Miami, you good thing!"
It was Lisa. She wobbled towards us like blunt force trauma: youthful beauty subjugated by an unfathomable appearance decline.
She wore a pink tutu but more closely resembled someone wearing an inflatable sumo wrestling costume, the "you good thing" comment surprisingly ocker, and disturbingly followed by: "Give us some sugar, Papa Bear!"
She grabbed his big head and planted a hard kiss on the lips.
"Love the new look, Miami. It's a real turn-on. Hey waiter! What am I, a mirage? Get us a beer, mate."
"Good grief!" Morrison said.
"Maybe you should rethink your strategy."
"You might be right, Mark."
Mark Bode is an ACM journalist. The events depicted in his writings are not meant to be taken literally. He uses satire and fiction in commentary.