Don’t find a date in a nightclub.
That was the mantra we used to live by. My friends and I knew the rules, if we wanted to survive the dating world unscathed.
Julie would attest that men you meet in nightclubs were for fun. Though I know she was lying to appease us. Olivia believed in the power of drunk nightclub dalliances, as long as you didn’t take them seriously. Weston never met a woman worth taking home to mother in a nightclub. Though I thought his standards were too high.
But no one told Edith about our rules. Unfortunately, she had to learn them the hard way.
Not that there was anything wrong with the men and women who frequented nightclubs. Far from it. But with your body covered in sweat, and your mind in a cheap champagne haze, it’s impossible to think straight. For both you and them.
On this particular night, while the rest of us were dancing, Edith was drinking. While she was lining up at the bar for liquid courage, her lesson in relationships began. The after-dark ones.
Rule Number One: Watch Yourself When Your Wallet Is Open
Leaning over the bar, Edith was ready for her fourth vodka and tonic. Squeezed in next to her was the man in the black base cap, who was ordering too. She instantly recognised him.
“Hey, hey, hey” she slurred, “You’re the dude in the picture.’ Edith poked his firm bicep for good measure. “I mean the poster. I mean, you’re the DJ.”
Despite her inebriation, Edith had identified the man next to her as Jamie Olsen. The apprentice chef turned DJ, who was making his highly talked about debut that night. He had the coveted one in the morning slot. At Seven. The hottest nightclub in Melbourne.
Jamie offered her a sympathetic smile. “You got it in one. That’s me.”
She raised her glass and swallowed the contents. “Good luck with the crowd,” Edith ordered another drink.
“Thanks. Any requests?”
She thought long and hard and came up with her favourite song. “Yesterday, by The Beatles.” Why, she questioned herself, did you tell one of the most in-demand house DJs to play Yesterday. What are you thinking?!
He screwed up his face and laughed with good humour. “Sure, I’ll make it work.”
Edith attempted to forget the exchange. But as Jamie started up, mixing the house beats for the excited crowd, Edith didn’t expect him to play her song. As the sounds of Put Your Hands Up For Detroit subsided, a thick house beat introduced Yesterday.
She looked up at Jamie, who was pointing at her, grinning as he negotiated the decks. Through the haze of people and her own intoxication, Edith wanted him.
When Edith told me this, I couldn’t fathom it. “You wanted a DJ? You, Edith, the anti-pop-culturist?”
“Don’t rub it in. It’s bad enough I was even in that nightclub with you guys.”
Rule Number Two: Don’t Accept An Offer After Midnight
At the end of his set, Jamie danced over to her, high-fiving the punters he passed. “What did you think? Did you love it?”
She mustered a ludicrous, giddy grin. “It was the best thing I’ve ever heard. Better than the original.” Edith, you’re a sell-out, she mused.
She leaned into him, hoping to plant a small, elegant kiss on the lips. Her demure token of thanks. But in her state, she fell onto him, wrapping her arms around his neck. She pulled him close and poured herself all over him. Jamie reciprocated without the same enthusiasm as Edith. Or drunk vigour.
“Can I see you again?” she asked, pulling away from his mouth for a moment.
“Yeah, um, yeah, I mean, yeah sure.”
He buried his hand in his back pocket and retrieved his wallet. With careful hunting through the material, he produced a card and handed it to her. “My deets.” Edith snatched the card and held it in her tight grasp.
“What about tomorrow? Lunch at Picco’s on Glenferrie?”
He nodded, insincerely kissing her on the cheek before beelining for the bar. Edith left shortly after that, holding his card close to her chest as she walked into the chilly night air.
Rule Number Three: Question Your Memory
The next morning she woke up with the hangover of all hangovers. But despite struggling to maintain focus and the spinning room, she remembered she had a date. After devouring a litre of water and popping a handful of paracetamol, Edith caught a taxi to the restaurant. She was a few minutes late but didn’t mind. It was the fashionable thing to do.
Edith scanned the restaurant and she couldn’t see Jamie. She thought for a moment she had forgotten what he looked like. Without a cap he would look different, she thought. But there wasn’t a single man in sight.
She asked the waiter for a table outside in the sunshine. There she could keep wearing her oversized sunglasses and see him coming from a distance. The waiter sat her and asked for her order. “What would you like, dear?”
“A big coffee. Black. Double. Thank you.”
Edith waited, battling her hangover all the while combatting her nerves. She scanned the street, waiting for Jamie to appear.
The longer Edith waited, the worse the feeling. He wasn’t coming. As every minute ticked past, the feeling concreted deep down. She was being stood up.
And she didn’t have long to hold on to her dignity.
Rule Number Four: Forget It Ever Happened
Edith grabbed her handbag and searched for her phone. As she found the device, she noticed the business card stuck to the screen. Seizing the card, she studied Jamie’s details. “Rent-a-car” it read.
Edith realised he’d given her some unimportant business card from his wallet. She didn’t have his number. She didn’t have his email address. All she had was a horrible hangover and an insurmountable amount of embarrassment.
She needed to go home. Correction; she had to go home.
After paying for the coffee, Edith stopped by the grocery store for chocolate and ice cream. On the walk home, with the melting ice cream running down her leg, she realised this was the worst kind of walk of shame.
Rule Number Five: Learn From Your Mistakes
“Would you go back?” I asked Edith, who was mixing us espresso martinis in her vintage cocktail shaker.
“To Seven? No, no, no. You couldn’t pay me.” She poured the liquid before licking the rim of shaker. “I don’t-think-so.”
“Oh, come on. You had a good night. You stole a kiss from a very desirable bachelor. It wasn’t all bad.”
“I couldn’t give a toss about him. It’s drinking. I got so drunk and I made the most stupid mistake. A mistake that isn’t me. I actually picked up a guy in a nightclub. Who does that?”
I sipped my drink as Edith gulped hers down. “So you’re never drinking again?”
“That’s right. Nor am I ever going to Seven again.” She stared at her empty cocktail glass. “Do you want another?”
“Only if you don’t get your Beatles record out.”
Learning from her mistakes wasn’t Edith’s forte.
But she was human, after all.
Oh, hey there! Welcome to The Little Black Book!
I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. My want is for a better opportunity for writers, especially fictional, in an increasingly technology dominant world. I write about figuring about love and relationships through fictional-reality.
The anecdotes might not always be true, but the lessons learned sure are!