29 November, 2007

A Tale Of Two Dates II

I waited a couple of days and then called to ask if she wanted to go out for dinner one night and suggested The Sea-Going Vegetable, a restaurant in Brunswick St Fitzroy. She did. So we picked a convenient night, the night of the first day of my holidays and I told her I’d pick her up at seven.

The die was cast.

The die was cast. I can’t believe I fucking wrote that. Yep, that’s me alright, Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon to take Rome and receive the wildest public acclaim. Actually, that’s not too far off what did happen, metaphorically speaking.

I’d chosen the Sea-Going Vegetable for the date because I’d heard a couple of women at work raving about it and a few more expressing almost hysterical interest in going there. I reasoned that it must be intriguing to women and so they’d be keen to get there and might not be all that choosy about the company they kept. I tended to play the percentages.

My work break-up the night before had been a bit of a blast. I’d gotten absolutely stinko, still ten years away from sufficient self-awareness to realize what a dickhead drunk I was. The penny had dropped for everyone else. I slept until mid-afternoon, eliminating about four hours of nervous anticipation before my date with Lynette and so sat in front of the TV at my folks’ place (I’d moved back in there during the last week) before getting ready.

I didn’t dress up too much. Just jeans, elastic-sided desert boots about fifteen years out of fashion, and a tasteful shirt. I drove across the Yarra out to Lynette’s place in Hawthorn in my then car. A 1977 Fiat 132 GLS. I felt good about having a European car. And there’d be another four months of feeling good about it before I was to write it off in a stupid accident. But tonight that was beyond the horizon. The Fiat was smooth and comfortable and people seemed to like riding in it.
Did I mention that I didn’t really go to any trouble with my ensemble for the evening? Yes? Well Lynette certainly did. Leather slacks; soft wool jumper that did wonders for a figure that was already pretty wonderful; and high heels. She looked fantastic. I chatted comfortably in the lounge-room with her two housemates while she put on the finishing touches.

She liked the car. We drove in to Fitzroy and I found a park close to the restaurant. Walking up Brunswick St, a prominent District cricketer of the day whom I’d met a couple of times walked past with his girlfriend and stopped and said hello, even remembering my name. This was good. What with the car and the bumping into someone I knew who didn’t qualify for a homeless allowance, I thought I might have looked like I was sort of, you know, happening just a bit. Almost enough to offset the stench of the loser I felt was shrouding me after having to move back in with my folks.

Both of us must have been famished because we ate up big on seafood. And we enjoyed our meals. I’d inadvertently picked a good, appealing restaurant. I drank some wine and a little beer, but slowly and circumspectly due to the after-effects of excessive consumption the night before. Lynette outpaced me by quite a bit. And she talked.

Voluble and garrulous, she took charge of the conversation, and that was fine by me. I specialize in awkward pauses. She appeared to be out to impress me, which I found very reassuring, if a little unfamiliar. I let her talk and inserted the odd supportive half-sentence whenever it was unobtrusive to do so.

Nice legs. She was telling me how she liked men with nice legs, and wanted to know how mine measured up. I hinted that I’d heard the odd complimentary remark made about them, and cacked myself inwardly. Because it was true. Too easy. I hadn't had to lie about anything yet.

Her taste in music didn’t have much correlation with mine, but I managed to keep my inner rock-snob from coming out and spoiling everything like it usually did. When she mentioned going to two Elton John concerts and seeing Tina Turner at the Hilton, I commented on songs of theirs that I thought were good. I was determined not to ruin the ambience and up to this stage, I wasn’t anywhere near red-lining on the Fuckup Meter.

So later, we caught a few songs from a band I can’t remember anything about at the Faraday in Carlton, and mingled with a couple of mates who happened to be there with a group of friends. My mates mugged appreciation of Lynette to me while her back was turned. Very subtle, they were. I let them flatter me.

Back at Lynette’s place, a cup of coffee and some more chatting in her lounge room appeared to be a nice, tasteful end to a very pleasant date. I quite liked her and thought there might be a few more dates in it for us. We appeared to be wrapping things up, so I told her I’d get going and leaned over to kiss her goodnight.

Now, let’s just pause the action here a bit. I thought I’d done quite well and was looking to get out while I was ahead in order to keep things going into the future. You know, like the next weekend. The plan was to give her a kiss goodnight while I was still persona grata and then call her a couple of days later and try for another date, one where I might again be able to avoid fucking anything up. My plan, such as it was, revolved around not fucking anything up two dates in a row. That was a very cocky plan for me.

Which was about where she put her hand after the goodnight kiss had gathered some momentum. Both of us must have been famished because…. hang on, didn’t I say that before? Recurring Motif Alert.

I felt like Edward Hargraves. I’d hit the mother lode. She led the charge into the bedroom where the rest of the night was spent having very passionate sex with the most enthusiastic partner I’d been with up until that time. And she was very vocal. Equal parts Grace Slick and Sandy Denny, although she’d probably never heard of them. At one point, I looked up to notice an open transom window above her bedroom door, through which quite a bit of sound must have carried. Great. Her housemates might get the impression that I was a super-stud from the appreciation she was giving voice to.
I had to throw my clothes on to go to the toilet midway through a brief period of dozing. I hoped I didn’t run into her housemates. The toilet was out on the back patio and I struggled with the back door lock but made it okay. Back in bed, she was pressed up against me half-asleep until soft grey light crept in.

You’d think it would have been a bit slower and more languid in the morning. Not a chance. We went at it again, hell bent on making up for lost time. Without actually having lost any. Like two people who might have been sexually dormant for some time, or who believe they’re having their last for a while. Or both.

She was going to be late for work so I dressed, casually mentioning my cricket club’s Christmas breakup do on the next Saturday night. I was expecting her to demur but she was all for it. So we kissed and said goodbye.

It had all turned out very well. Exceptionally so. And we had another date lined up.

What could possibly go wrong?

18 November, 2007

A Tale of Two Dates I

There are two types of blogger: those who have written a post about an unsuccessful date; and those who are about to. And I’m about to move seamlessly from the first category to the second. But here there will be a difference. I won’t be lambasting the idiosyncracies and foibles of the co-respondents involved in the disastrous dates that I’ve had. No, I’ll be giving the other point of view. That’s right, the viewpoint of the bad date. It’s an area that appears to be largely unexplored.

Google “Date From Hell.” Then stand back. 141,000 hits. That's a lot of bad date experiences. There’s even a http://www.datefromhell.com/ website that has an ever-expanding archive.

But what about equivalence? In order for you to have a bad date, someone had to be a bad date. So unless there’re just a few people providing all of the bad date experiences bloggers and others put out there, somebody's not fessing up. Is it really possible that there are all of these people out there who have had shitty dates without ever actually being a shitty date? Just who makes up the talent pool of date-wreckers if no-one’s actually ever been one?

It’s an interesting question. Like the one posed by Andre Previn in a witty Punch article around 1970. Then, there was muzak everywhere. Everyone hated it, especially musicians. But musicians must have played on it, otherwise it wouldn’t exist. So who was trading licks in some cheap studio to lay down elevator music and not admitting to it? Somebody must have been.

I think I might be labouring a very poorly-researched point here so…

This three-part series will go through the leadup to and description of two highly contrasting dates from my dimmest, darkest past. It’s not going to be pretty. You can turn back now if you want. I won’t mind. Really.

I’d broken up with a girlfriend just a couple of months previously. Technically, she’d broken up with me. I suppose there’s a small difference. It had progressed to the on-again-off-again stage and would do so for another four months or so. I didn’t mind either way. She did.

But towards Christmas time I was due to play in a social cricket match. It was organized by a mate’s brother and he’d brought along a workmate, Susan and her best friend, Lynette. The best friend was unattached. And on the lookout. My mate’s brother had put it to me thus: “She’s pretty nice and my workmate tells me she hasn’t had a root for ages.”

Lynette turned out to be very attractive. Tall, shapely, long brown hair and two features in particular that always work for me: naturally arched eyebrows; and one eyetooth pointing slightly forward. Either of those do wonders for me. Okay, so far so good.

We were introduced and I made intermittent small talk with Lynette. She did seem very nice. But my housemate was also having a nice old chin wag with her. I think he fancied Lynette too. I was starting to think she reciprocated. They were getting along like a house on fire and I was pretty pissed off. My housemate was quite successful with women in his own right. He didn’t need to be fixed up with anyone. He could find his own way. Me, I was fucking useless. A set up was always welcome. I never knocked back a setup. I couldn’t afford to.

I was padded up ready to go in to bat and lit a cigarette. A wicket fell. “Keep that cigarette burning for me, will you please?” I said to Lynette. “I might not be very long.” She thought that was funny. Now, I wanted to bat well and impress her. I faced up to a medium-pace bowler who pitched his first delivery to me on a good length just outside off stump. The ball started to cut in towards the stumps. It turned out to be his only delivery to me. I waved the bat at it and forgot all about moving my feet.

That terrible skittling sound from behind told me I was out bowled first ball. So I got back in time to finish smoking the cigarette that Lynette was holding for me. I said thanks as I took it from her. She had the giggles, so I grinned sheepishly and joined in. Well, at least I’d made some kind of impact.

There was a party about a week later where we chatted. My housemate couldn’t make it to that party. Probably because I didn’t tell him about it.

The next day, my mate’s brother rang and told me, “Listen, this Lynette thinks you’re very nice and Susan is suggesting you ring her and ask her out. Play your cards right, or at the very least refrain from doing anything stupid and …. um, look just ring her.”

I waited a couple of days and then called to ask if she wanted to go out for dinner one night and suggested The Sea-Going Vegetable, a restaurant in Brunswick St Fitzroy. She did. So we picked a convenient night, the night of the first day of my holidays and I told her I’d pick her up at seven.

The die was cast.

17 November, 2007

Earliest Memory Meme

Mad McColl (go and visit his blog. He writes a great political argument) has tagged me for a meme which goes as follows:

1. Describe your earliest memory where the memory is clear, and where "clear" means you can depict at least three details;
2. Give an estimate of your age at the time;
3. Tag five other bloggers with this meme;

Okay, here goes: My younger brother was born just three days short of my third birthday. I can remember clearly when he was brought home from hospital. He was asleep and all wrapped up. He was being held by our mum and she leaned down so I could get a good look at him.

This was in the hallway of our house in Ascot Vale. Dad was standing behind mum watching. I can dimly remember my older brother and two older sisters, who were 13; 12; and 10 being there. My Gran, who lived with us, was there too because she would have been looking after us while mum was in hospital.

I wasn’t the baby of the family anymore. Well, we’d see about that.

And I’m tagging Blonde Canadian to find out how she felt; Eleanor Bloom because of her wit; Ann O’Dyne because she’s had experiences to fill a three volume autobiography; Boo to hear how she managed the situation; Legal Soapbox because she writes so warmly; and Phish to find out what sort of kid she was.
Hang on, that was six.

Go girls!

04 November, 2007

Guano Inundates Bird Cage

Great article by Simon Castles about corporate hospitality at the Spring Racing Carnival in this morning's Age. You can read it here.

All I'll say is, I don't mind that the rich, famous and privileged have it better than the rest of us. I just don't see why we have to have our fucking noses rubbed in it.

That Pointy State Up There

We spent ten days on Queensland’s Gold Coast in September. It was our second time as a family. Both times we stayed in the same place and did pretty much the same things. And yes, we are aware it’s going to take us a while to run the gamut of Lonely Planet Guidebook locations at this rate.

But when you’re on a good thing, and if it aint broke, cos better the devil you know, and when you’re too fucking lazy to take a risk on somewhere different in case it’s not as good as the last place you went to. Well, you don’t want to spend the whole fucking holiday whinging, do you? It’s not a travel philosophy that many would subscribe to, but it gets me by…

The balcony of our two-bedroom unit at Elanora overlooked a wide canal, where fish made splashing noises after dark. And we also saw a stingray and what must have been a bull shark judging by the fin and the wake late one night. Neighbours told us they’d seen the occasional dolphin too.

So we were in a good spot. There was a hire car included and the location was just too damn convenient. We did pretty much the same things as we did in March 2006, hitting the Worlds one after the other, and then a rest day to watch Geelong thrash Port Adelaide in the AFL Grand Final. I liked the watery worlds better, as for some reason I’m not scared of water slides. But you won’t get me near anything faster than a 1963 Volkswagen on dry land.

We actually went to Wet and Wild twice, so keen were we.

While waiting to go on the Tornado there, I saw something delightful: two very attractive young women were waiting in the ride’s spiral queue. Now, ninety-nine percent of blokes would have put both of them on their Myer Gift Registry. Tall, voluptuous, one blonde, one brunette, I’d noticed them turning heads all over the theme park during the early afternoon.

They got to the front of the line and were met by the attendant who told them that the Tornado was a four-person raft ride and that they would need two more crew. The attendant called out “Is there anyone in a pair who’d like to join up with these two?” Four young fellows were waiting further back and two of them started climbing over railings even before the attendant had finished. “It’s the least we could do,” one of them said as he clambered past me. The girls looked only half-pleased to be helped out. Quite a few people in the line got the giggles.

The young fellows looked like they thought they were on a date. The girls’ body language made it clear that it wasn’t. I hope there was a happy ending for all concerned.

At SeaWorld, Larry snorkeled in the big tank, among reef sharks and even a small hammerhead. I got a bit of a shock when I saw that critter swim past, I can tell you. Um, aren’t they dangerous?

Curly wanted to go in too but we were a bit apprehensive as his swimming and breathing is not quite strong enough just yet. Being nine years old, he just missed the ten-years-or-older cut off. Moe knows his limitations and watched from below.

One thing we did differently was visit O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Lamington National Park. It was a sinuous two hour drive up into the mountains followed by a walk along an elevated boardwalk above the rainforest. Just beautiful.

I hadn’t made the connection, but when we got there, there was a lot of information about Bernard O’Reilly’s rescue of the Stinson survivors in 1937. This is the famous story where a twin-engined Stinson passenger aircraft went missing on a flight between Brisbane and Sydney. The search, centreing around northern NewSouth Wales, had been abandoned when O’Reilly went out into the dense bush, convinced the plane had come down somewhere in the McPherson Ranges. About to turn around and head home, he noticed a brown tree against the normally green forest backdrop and knew he’d found the crash site. The two survivors were badly injured and O’Reilly helped organize local farmers in the difficult task of getting them out safely.

The view from the O’Reilly’s Guesthouse balcony

I would recommend this. We also went to South Stradbroke Island. On a day trip to a tired and rundown resort. I would not recommend this, but Curly and I did enjoy our 15 minute seaplane flight from there.

As we left Queensland the weather was closing in. We’d had ten days of sunshine sandwiched between rainy periods.

My only regret is getting taxis between home in Flemington and Tullamarine Airport at a cost of c. $105 when we could have driven there and parked in the long-term carpark for $67.