“You should date somebody from Twitter,” my flattie JC told me one night at the pub. This was a couple of years back, when meeting people from t’internet was still something of a novelty and you didn’t tell your mother when you were doing it.
“Don’t be an idiot,” I said and waved my beer dismissively. The truth was I had already considered this and had reasonable-sized crushes on more than a few of my followers. Plus my Twitter network was relatively small, highly interactive and privy to a lot of details regarding my personal life. It’d save a lot of the legwork involved in getting to know somebody on a first date.
“No, seriously,” JC continued, “I bet that if you tweeted on a Saturday night and said you wanted somebody to take you out, you’d have at least 5 offers in the first hour.”
I didn’t know whether he was right or wrong, but the likelihood of me actually doing this was roughly equal to using my beer money to sponsor an African child. I had met enough people online to know that some of them were fun and could become your new BFFs, but others were fun and then later proved to have a very tenuous grip on reality. In the beginning, it’s almost impossible to tell which category the stranger sitting on your couch chopping weed will fall into.
So I put aside the idea of Twitter dating for the meantime, but then after a depressingly dry season, I began to consider it more seriously. I mean, if I was on Twitter and I wasn’t a freak, then surely most of the other people who were on Twitter weren’t freaks either? Maybe I should be more open minded?
Later that week, I was on the bus after 6 or 7 cocktails and recklessly decided to ask out someone from Twitter. I looked through my list of followers and finally settled on a guy who had flirted with me a little in the past.
“Want to grab a beer sometime?” I DMed him.
“Sure!” he replied.
I arranged to meet him for drinks after work the following Wednesday. Then I texted my friend Keira and said, “I just asked out a guy from Twitter.”
Keira wrote back, “Two words: Mister Burns.”
Mister Burns was a philosophy student I had met a couple of years earlier through RSVP.com and, after seeing his reasonably attractive profile picture, agreed to meet in real life for coffee. But when he showed up on the day, he looked a bit like Gollum and was wearing a matching block coloured tracksuit. He smelled vaguely of urine. “I have to go,” I said, not even bothering to formulate an excuse, then climbed straight back into my car and drove away.
I wasn’t so worried about meeting this Twitter guy though. I’d seen a few photos of him and he looked okay. I was confident about the date, but when Wednesday arrived, I found myself feeling nervous. “What if he’s ugly?” I asked the girls at work. “Or what if he’s fat? Oh my god, what have I done?”
Fortunately, he wasn’t fat. In fact, he was pretty cute. We smashed some beers and had great conversations and I thought, yes, this is going so well, snaps for me.
I agreed to meet him for a coffee the following weekend, and I was genuinely looking forward to it. But in the harsh light of day, he was nowhere near as attractive. In fact, he kind of looked a bit like my brother, which was cause for immediate disqualification. It was too late to back out though, so I sat down, ordered a coffee and began mentally scraping together a list of possible excuses to leave early. He seemed nervous in a sober setting and spoke at great length about his cats.
This date was very borderline: bad enough that I knew I wouldn’t see him again, but not quite bad enough to leave after only half an hour. But then he solved my dilemma by shifting the balance.
We were discussing his vegetarianism, and I inquired about his iron levels. “Do you get sick a lot?” I asked. “I went off red meat for a while last year and just seemed to come down with cold after cold.”
“Well it’s different for women,” he said, “As they have a tendency to….you know…”
Here he made a violent flowing gesture with both hands and whispered, “Bleed.”
I picked up my bag and left him with the bill.
After I ignored him for a few days, he messaged me.
Him: “Was that initial drink supposed to be a date or a networking thing?”
Me: “A networking thing. Why do you ask?”
Him: “Oh I’m embarrassed… Not that I had assumed one way or the other, but yeah… Shit, I’m an ass.”
Me: “It’s okay, everybody makes mistakes.”
He unfollowed me on Twitter not long after.
This one time, at Hotel CBD, I was drinking gin with some friends when this forty-something guy began lurking near our table. My friend, whose eloquence was matched only by her drunkenness, turned to him and said, “Fuck off, you’re old.”
His jaw dropped a little and he went and sat at the table immediately next to us, looking crestfallen. I was embarrassed, so I went over and apologised on behalf of my friend. He bought me a drink and we started chatting. He told me he was in Sydney on business and didn’t know anyone, but just wanted to chill out and have a drink in town. We talked for a while about travelling, university, and how unnecessarily rude my friend was for assuming he was trying to hit on a bunch of chicks who were clearly young enough to be his children. I mean, come on, he just wanted someone to talk to! He just wanted to hang out! No funny business or anything. And what is wrong with society these days that you can’t just go up to people and say hello without them jumping to conclusions and assuming you’re trying to fuck them? The world has truly gone down the toilet.
After a while, I noticed my friends were getting ready to leave, so I stood up and held out my hand.
Me: Have a good night.
Old man: So, can I have your number?
Old man: I find you very attractive and I’d like to take you out to dinner.
Me: We just had a ten minute conversation about how old you are and how it would be criminal of you to date anyone my age.
Old man: Mmm I know.
Me: If you really want to, you can add me on Facebook.
Old man: What’s that?
He gave me his business card and I kept it for a while, because he looked so much like Drew Carey.
That pretty much sums up my dating history anyway.
The best/only thing to do while growing up in the Hills was to go to house parties. I went to house parties every night of every weekend until I turned 18 and ditched my then-underage friends so I could go out clubbing instead with work people. I have very fond house party memories though.
Anytime anybody’s parents went anywhere ever, we had a house party. However, the best kids to host house parties were those with single mothers who were in the middle of messy divorces and/or distracted by alcoholism. They were too depressed to give a shit about what we did in their backyards, as long as nobody died or got pregnant.
We spent every lunch break during grades 9-12 figuring out how we were going to get blasted on the weekend. We’d pool our money and then fight over what we wanted and who could buy it for us.
“Can we get a bottle of Midori?”
“No. Fuck the Midori.”
“We need cigarettes too.”
“Do we have enough for Cruisers?”
“Just steal a bottle of wine from your nanna. She won’t notice. She’s like a hundred and fifty.”
Then we’d organise for somebody’s older brother/sister/cousin/boyfriend or someone with a fake ID to do a bottle shop run for us. If that didn’t work, we simply hung out around the front of Liquor Land and smiled at every guy who walked past until one of them agreed to buy us booze. Sometimes they’d give us a lift to the party too. We were street-smart.
Usually you would tell your mum and dad that you were staying at a girlfriend’s house for a “movie night” or similar. They’d drop you off and you’d walk gingerly up the driveway, trying not to let your Country Road overnight bag full of Stoli’s and Woodstocks rattle. Then they’d collect you the following morning and you would lie on the backseat of the car in the fetal position, reeking of cigarettes and alcohol, complaining that you ate some bad party pies and might have gotten food poisoning and could you please wind down the windows, it’s like a goddamn oven in here and where the hell are my sunglasses?
If the house party occurred at your place while your parents were away, you had to get up early, ignore your raging hangover and attempt to restore everything to its former condition as much as possible. You febreezed the shit out of the couch, stashed garbage bags full of empty liquor bottles under your bed and hoped your dad wouldn’t notice the garden hose had gotten shorter when you tried to make a bong.
My highschool friends are now teachers, psychologists, lawyers, nurses, and some do jobs I don’t even really understand. All are functional, well-balanced, tax-paying members of society, and one has even reproduced and is now responsible for the wellbeing of another human being who is still successfully alive at the time of writing. I guess the point is that even if your kid seems like a complete fuck-up, it will probably turn out fine. So just chill out and do your own thing while they binge-drink their way through their interminable adolescence. It’s the Australian way.
Me: Sometimes you just find yourself in the men’s room at Q Bar at 6am on a Sunday morning and you think, “What am I doing with my life?”… Know what I mean?
Dr Riley: Not really.
Me: And my UAI is…wow.
Mum: What is it?
Me: Almost ninety-five.
Mum: Well that can’t be right!
Dad: Maybe you should give the Board of Studies a call?
By far, the worst job I ever had was during the summer when I was twenty-one. I’d returned from South Africa early after a failed attempt at voluntary work (I like money) and couldn’t resume my old job for another 4-5 months because there wasn’t yet any work for me to do there. For the first time in seven years, I was unemployed.
I played nintendo for a few weeks, drank a lot of beer, and sunbaked all day in my parents’ backyard before my mother told me I should think about contributing to society.
“I’m an organ donor,” I reminded her.
“No, I mean you should get a job,” Mum said. “Pay some taxes.”
“You don’t,” I argued.
“Not according to your father’s accountant.”
“Fine, I’ll get a job.”
And after a few interviews with recruiters, I eventually landed a temp-to-perm position doing accounts payable in North Sydney….for a funeral home.
“Is the nature of the business going to be a problem for you?” I was asked during the interview.
“Bills is bills,” I said nonchalantly. “Besides, I like the quiet.”
However, unlike an episode of Six Feet Under, this job proved to be less fascinating than you might think. I was primarily trained by a balding middle-aged man who smelled funny and breathed heavily, which meant I could never have any sort of meaningful professional relationship with him. The hours were 7:30am to 4:30pm, which meant I had to drive in because the buses didn’t start until 8am. And so, every day, I parked my car illegally, and every second day, I got a parking ticket. The residents in North Sydney were clearly sick of the parking situation, because they often abused me. One morning, a lady drove out of her driveway, then told me I had parked too close to it.
“You just drove out of it,” I pointed out.
“I hope you get a ticket!” she said.
“Fuck you!” she said and drove off.
At work, I spent my days coding and entering invoices for flowers, catering, burial plots and children’s coffins. I could tell you how much it cost to cremate an adult, an adolescent or a baby; what flowers were most popular; and which funeral celebrants were well-respected. I spent all day looking at names of dead people, and every time I saw a surname I recognised, I had to stop and google them to make sure they weren’t related to somebody I knew.
My co-workers were mostly Asian mothers. Our boss was Cruella de Vil. On my first day, she showed me the depressingly small kitchen. I opened the fridge and noted a complete absence of alcohol.
“You can have a biscuit from the jar, if you like,” she offered. “It’s free.”
“Sure,” I said, knowing that I would eat as many biscuits as possible to compensate myself for working in such a soul-sucking hell hole.
I spent every lunch break chain-smoking in a park around the corner, calling everyone I’d ever met and asking them if they knew of any jobs going. Eventually I found a temporary position doing admin at a friend’s office. I went over for an interview and drank a beer with the CEO, who was wearing board shorts and thongs. We chatted casually for fifteen minutes and he asked me when I could start.
The next day, I quit the funeral home.
“This is awfully short notice,” Cruella protested, “I have no idea how we’ll cope with the workload.”
“Oh I didn’t really do much,” I said, comfortingly.
“This puts us in an awkward position,” she continued.
“Who cares,” I replied. “All your clients are already dead.”
I never got offered anymore work through that particular recruitment agency and I haven’t been to North Sydney since.
If you can’t speak English, just copy/paste movie synopses into personal messages & send them to Australian people you met three years ago
Richard was a member of a Contiki tour group my friend Keira and I belonged to during July 2007. When we caught a ferry from Athens to Mykonos, Richard bought a T-shirt with a giant penis on it that said “Give us a kiss!” and he waved to children. One night, he got really wasted and sang karaoke, emptying an entire bar of tourists in 4.5 seconds flat.
I once lived with a guy who grew up in Kuwait and would talk about his childhood late at night when he was drunk.
One evening, a few of us gathered as he described a horrifying incident in which his father had beaten him severely for leaving a smudge on his black Mercedes.
“I don’t understand, why did he hit you?” I asked, shocked by the scale of such a beating.
“Well I had to clean his cars every week, and if they weren’t spotless by dinner, I got into big trouble,” he replied.
“That’s awful,” I commented.
“It’s okay, I got him back,” he said with a smile.
“What did you do?” my friend asked, “Did you scratch his car or something?”
“No,” he said, glancing around the room mischievously. “I killed his dog.”
Roughly eight seconds of complete silence passed, before I cleared my throat and asked, “How?”
“Well,” my housemate continued, “I waited until he went to work, and then I locked his dog inside the Merc. By the time my dad finished his shift, that dog was swollen up like a motherfucking beach ball!!”
Then he roared with laughter. My friend, an avid lover of animals, picked up her bag and left immediately, while I busied myself clearing away our empty glasses.
When I was younger I used to go to church with a family who had a son with autism. My memories of him are vague at best. He was obsessed with space ships, trains and video games, and would often sit alone repeating the same phrases over and over.
As he got older, he began exhibiting more unruly types of behaviour. They started out small enough – a tendency to break things or overeat. His parents locked all their cupboards and kept him away from the kitchen. Things obviously worsened, however, as he entered early adulthood, because the last thing I heard was that his family had put him into full-time professional care.
“Why did they do that?” I asked my physio, who was a reliable source of church gossip.
“Well, he was becoming a little difficult to handle,” she replied, digging her knuckles into my abdomen.
“But what did he do?” I pressed.
“Oh he would just get upset easily and then do inappropriate things,” she said.
“Can you give me an example?” I asked. I was dying from curiosity. What did this boy do when he got mad? I was imagining physical violence, tantrums, or perhaps even some public masturbation for shock value. The truth, however, was even more spectacular.
“Okay, here’s one,” the physio said. “Last month their whole family went to Perth for somebody’s birthday. When they were due to come home, their flight was delayed for four hours. The boy got upset, and when they tried to calm him down, he became angry. So he bit his own arm until it started bleeding, then he went around wiping the blood on other people and screaming into their faces.”
“That’s fucked up,” I marvelled.
“Please don’t swear in my house,” she replied. “Now, roll over.”
A few years ago, I played guitar in a band with my co-worker (a secretly talented singer) and her older brother (a drummer/psychopath).
We drank a lot of beer and pissed off a lot of neighbours, and we decided that a bass player was essential to our continued existence.
I offered to place an ad online and the drummer nodded.
“Yeah, that’s good,” he said. “Just make the ad really vague, but also specific. Say that they need to be cool, but not cooler than us. We’ll ask them to meet us at a bar, and then we’ll interview them. If they have a last name for a first name or a first name for a last name, they’re out. And if they use any faggy music words like “progressive euro-tech” that’s also cause for immediate disqualification.”
“I don’t want anyone whose outfit costs more than mine, and if they order a Coopers red, we’ll know they’re a dickhead.”
We never found a bass player and the band broke up a month later.