We were supposed to meet at the Dust Bowl, the only place in Alice Springs where you can eat ‘gourmet’ pizza, consume alcohol and play glow in the dark ten pin bowling with 90’s music video clips screening on the walls. The combination of alcohol, novelty sports and R Kelly’s life sized crooning face would have created ideal first date vibes if the Dust Bowl was open. It wasn’t, so we went to Lasseters Casino, aptly named after a doomed explorer who went searching for gold in the central desert only to perish penniless and alone.
My first alarm bell should have been that I had to give him a lift. I learnt that his license had been suspended for drunk driving. Excessive drinking = second alarm bell. He laughed at my suggestion that he get a bike. Mockery of bikes = third warning bell.
Some nights at the casino they pull a curtain in front of the bay marine (You know, the thing which they serve fish/steak/chicken and chips out of?) and push the dinner tables back. Two lasers, some party lights and a DJ booth on wheels turn a casino restaurant into a little slice of Sydney. Some locals flock there on Friday nights with straight hair and high heels to try and pretend they don’t live in a small town in the middle of the desert. Unfortunately, that night it was footy night, so there was no dance floor.
As we waited for our meat + chips I learnt that he’d just come out of a three year relationship (seriously, how many warning bells did I think I needed?) and that he’d ‘left some trouble behind in Tasmania.’ The trouble wasn’t the fact that his ex girlfriend was trying to take him to court over a shed they jointly owned, but that he had already missed two appearances in court for his drunk driving. So he was trying to figure out how to reapply for a new drivers license without having to TRAVEL INTERSTATE TO APPEAR IN COURT. I tried to sympathise with his quandary, I really did. Oh, and yes, it’s possible to jointly own a shed.
So when he noticed his mother on a nearby table, I wasn’t embarrassed; I waved her over to join us. She turned out to be a lovely woman who was also on a date. When he went to the bathroom she asked me if I thought he was a spunk! Solidarity! Her (totally spunky) date paid for another round of drinks and chips and we had a great old time. Well, for another 40 minutes, then I realized that as much as I liked my new BFF, I wasn’t on a date with her, I was on a date with her son, who hadn’t said or done anything in the last 40 minutes but stare sullenly into his empty plate of chips. I drove him home and left my BFF to enjoy the rest of her date. I never saw my BFF again but I was happy that lovely women existed in the world and I was glad that one of us was having a great date with a spunk.