Held at the Melbourne Arts Club Gallery in June 2015, I spend a lot of time thinking about documented, in photographs and written stories, twenty of my first dates over the course of almost two years. The twenty images were exhibited and presented alongside a zine that had black-and-white versions of the images in them, along with the accompanying stories.
Below are all the images, in their original format (i.e. colour, unless shot on black-and-white film), with two of the accompanying stories. If you would like to read all twenty stories, you can purchase a zine for A$5 (plus postage); send me an email at gretaparry[at]gmail[dot]com to arrange. To read about the exhibition and my dating experiences more generally, take a look at the piece I wrote for Spook here.
1. 99 Problems, Collingwood. 20 September 2013.
2. Builders Arms Hotel, Fitzroy. 21 September 2013.
3. Mr Tulk, Melbourne. 28 February 2014.
4. Kitty Somerset, Northcote. 7 March 2014.
5. Some Velvet Morning, Clifton Hill. 12 March 2014.
6. Joe’s Shoe Store, Northcote; Tasty Tacos, Northcote. 23 March 2014.
7. The Thornbury Local, Thornbury. 21 May 2014.
8. Izakaya Chuji, Melbourne; Howler, Brunswick; 1806, Melbourne; New Gold Mountain, Melbourne. 22 May 2014.
9. Joe’s Shoe Store, Northcote; the 86 tram. 7 June 2014.
I had never let someone’s age deter me from dating them, and I had assumed that meant I didn’t care about age. Until #9. This was the first time in a very long time I had thought about dating someone older than myself. He’ll be looking to settle down, I thought. He’ll be boring, I assumed. And then I chastised myself for drawing the exact conclusions about him that I hated people drawing about me, and agreed to meet him for a drink.
He was tall, handsome, well-dressed. He had his own design business. He enjoyed going to music festivals. He was an inner-north dilettante, it seemed – just a little older and wiser than all the others I had known. We both had Friday-night engagements to get to, which left just the right amount of time to become acquainted without venturing into that potentially awkward territory of deciphering how it will end. We sat at the bar while we ate pizza and drank beer; we talked about the ease with which we handle hangovers and wondered aloud whether it was due to our Irish heritage. His eyes smiled when he did and I quite quickly sensed he was interested.
Tram Tracker told us we had one minute until the 86 pulled up so we raced to the stop and boarded the citybound tram. We sat next to each other, and when I realised that I didn’t feel self-conscious with him seeing my face under the unforgiving fluorescent lights of an after-dark tram, I knew I wasn’t yet interested. We had talked about possibly reconvening later that night after our respective commitments, but when #5 decided to meet me at the gig I was going to, I knew my date with #9 had well and truly ended.
10. Imperial Hotel, Melbourne. 9 August 2014.
11. Sister Bella, Melbourne; Cookie, Melbourne; my bedroom, Northcote. 28 August 2014.
12. Rooftop Bar, Melbourne. 7 September 2014.
13. Ajisen Ramen, Melbourne; The Carlton, Melbourne. 17 September 2014.
14. Dojo Ramen Bar, Northcote; Northcote Social Club, Northcote. 24 September 2014.
15. Black Pearl, Fitzroy; Bimbo Deluxe, Fitzroy; Shawcross, Fitzroy. 17 October 2014.
‘I understand that ladies aren’t your main meal, and without being my habitual sleaze self, if I can sway that movement in any way, pave me a steady path x’
I had chatted with a few women on OkCupid, but no-one there had really caught my attention until the above line, which came at the end of a sprawling, poetic missive, knocked me for six. She was fucking beautiful. Intensely sensual. She brought out romance and poetry in my writing in a way no-one had for years, if ever.
I was uncharacteristically petrified as I walked along Johnston St. I arrived first and stood at the bar, unsure of what to do. When she finally walked in I was instantly attracted; one of my major anxieties about the evening was dispelled.
I drank champagne, she drank cocktails. I knew I would be nervous, but her guarded body language told me she was too, which surprised me and somehow put me at ease. We had comparable ideas about sex politics; we found points of similarity in our families and upbringings; we both thrived on being social, usually with alcohol and preferably with late-night dancing; we were both naturally flirtatious. When I came back from the bathroom, a man was standing over her, talking to her. He was hitting on her, in the distinguished way that such expensive venues dictate, and she had explained she was on a date. ‘Here she is,’ she said to him, and he turned around to see me standing there with our drinks. ‘Oh – oh,’ he fumbled, ‘well, ah, you make a really beautiful couple.’ And it was true – I felt more attractive in her presence; somehow her beauty enhanced mine. My drug of choice, champagne, was kicking in and I don’t know that I had ever felt more desirable.
We decided to walk up Brunswick Street to find a place to dance, and stopped when the irresistible sound of 2000s R’n’B thudded out of a shitty pub and into our drunk ears. We did shots at the bar and took glasses of cheap champagne to the dancefloor, where we separated to cavort with strangers, periodically catching each other’s eyes. She had taken her shoes off (‘I wore heels to impress you but they hurt my feet!’) and sat down to inspect the miniscule shards of glass embedded in her soles. I sat next to her and, among the sweating bodies, the relentless beat and the chaotic flashes of nightclub lights, I kissed her.
When we had drunk and danced too much she decided she needed to eat, and she wanted pizza. And so we sat in the window of the late-night godsend that is a by-the-slice pizzeria, reveled in the unparalleled satisfaction of post-booze melted cheese, and kissed through the laughter and the glorious grease.