I’m not sure how to talk about her. I’m so confused I don’t even know whether to refer to her as The Girl or A Girl. The former suggests infatuation when I have barely thought of her in years. The latter seems impersonal, casual and off-hand.
I have been wondering for some weeks now whether I should write about what happened, or ignore the love letter incident entirely.
There is a small chance she would read this. And if she doesn’t, then there’s 90 per cent chance a family member or friend will. And to spare her and myself further embarrassment, I’ve wanted to ignore this entire subject.
But I’m a journalist. I write about other people, and dig up their pain, their issues, all in the name of truth. I’d be a coward and a hypocrite not to begin this. I’d rather be thought brash and awkward.
And besides, it covers the entire issue of leaving the Order, the frustration, the stress, the emotion.
But giving a girl a love letter? Who ever thought that was a good idea.
You ever meet a girl you like and want to get to know her more? Basically, I met this great girl while I volunteered in the Order. I won’t bother attempting to describe her virtues – I’m sure I did this at length in a last letter of desperation.
It’s hard to be smooth, energetic and charming when you’re volunteering such long hours. And so when I did see “Sally” I suppose I was too shy to built rapport. I don’t think she saw me at my best and most relaxed.
She invited the Order members and I to her birthday party. I was definitely going. It was on a Friday night at a rooftop bar. And so begins the shittiest night of my year.
At that stage I’d barely been in a bar. And so after a 40 minute tram ride S-, B- and I arrived. A burly but gay bouncer asked us for I.D. I didn’t have any. My two friends walked inside and I asked them to give her my card. I went back home and searched for I.D. I couldn’t find my licence, but I did have an old uni student card. I arrived an hour late by the time I gave the card to a lady guarding the door.
“But it doesn’t say your date of birth?” she said.
I groaned. She sympathised. But wouldn’t let me in.
This is where an ordinary guy would have called it quits. But I liked this girl. And not showing up to her birthday party was not a good look. I ran home because the tram wasn’t coming fast enough. J- was at home alone watching movies. He was alarmed when he heard me shove my cupboard drawers to the ground in search for the hidden I.D. I’d almost given up when I found it.
I came back to the bar.
Both bouncers were at the door laughing, probably not knowing the other had turned me away. “I thought you’d never show up again,” they said.
“Here,” I panted.
“Good on you,” the gay bouncer said, handing it back. “Enjoy your night.”
I scoured the roof top bar and walked around it three times when I realised I had a problem. Nobody I knew was there. They had left without telling me.
“What’s wrong,” the first bouncer asked me as I was about to leave. “You just got here!”
“They left,” I said.
It was cold in Melbourne at night. I stood a few minutes wondering what I was going to do. In those days I was on no phone plan. I had a crummy Nokia and it had no credit left. I did not have Sally’s number and even if I did, it was 10.30pm.
But I had B-‘s number, and he should have still been with the group. And when you’re desperate for romance or something of the kind, you find a way. There’s a hundred 7/11’s in Melbourne CBD, or at least one on every corner. I bought credit and phoned B- hoping he would get back to me. I waited in the gutter.
“Hi, I can’t make it to the phone right now…” his answering machine began.
My voice message response was not pleasant.
And then I sent a text which began with “out of worst 10 nights of my life this would be one of them.” It’s a great way to keep friends. You should try it.
But B- was good. He texted me back shortly and said the party had moved to a nightclub. I’d never been to a club before (I was 20!) and it wasn’t in my comfort zone, but I found the place eventually, paid the $15 cover charge, and walked in.
Sally was there, welcomed me, and we tried to talk surrounded by loud music, as dark dressed girls swayed on miniature stages in the centre of the room . But I was in a grumpy mood and wasn’t having any fun, so she found nicer friends. I waited an hour scowling at the random couple meeting and hooking up at the corner of the bar.
And then S- wanted to go home. I walked with S- to the tram, knowing I’d screwed up.
And I’ll tell you the next part next time, I swear.