I scanned the crowd from the back of the room, spotting a fella sitting alone with babin’ wavy black hair a a babin’ brown leather jacket. As I sat down next to him he asked if we had met before. I shook my head. It was the second last session of the last day of the Emerging Writers Festival. As we walked together to the next session, I learnt he had just launched his debut novel. I bought a copy of his book and he signed it.
The final session was ‘Getting To Know The Audience,’ where panelists included festival punters, who mostly got up and spoke about the work they’d published. One of my conference buddies and I got up to represent the real EMERGING writers, proposing the Fetus Festival, for Emerging Emerging Writers. I introduced myself with “I’m not published, so I’ve got nothing to pimp but myself. Gentlemen, I am single.” Cue outrageous laughter from the audience. “Dating in the desert, huh,” the panelist asked, “How’s that working out for you?” “Obviously not good,” I replied, “I’m still single.” More laughter. When asked what my festival highlight was, I said “Giving my business card to Benjamin Law,” and my festival lowlight was “Awkwardly trying to pick up Liam Pieper.” I was on fire. People came up to me afterwards in a group to get my business cards, including The Author.
“So you’re single, ay? Wanna get a coffee?” I thought he must have been joking and laughed it off. I headed to the after party with him and the group, who all attempted to make it as awkward as possible for the two of us, “Ohhhh you’re gunna hook up and get married and have your reception here where you met!” As I got up to go to the bathroom, I overheard him saying “Nah, I’ll just admire her from afar.” Gradually everyone dwindled away and we went to get dinner.
I learnt that he had a theatre degree, won a comedy competition, lives in Queensland and is writing a sitcom. After dinner we went to find somewhere to drink. I only knew wanky cocktail bars and pretentious rooftop bars that previous dates had taken me on. In the elevator up to one of these bars I kissed him. We left the bar, held hands and walked aimlessly down Bourke Street Mall to find somewhere cosier to drink.
“I’m not really into the whole getting drunk thing,” I said. “We could do that, or we could just skip to making out some more, because that’s all I wanna do.”
“Look,” I said, “I’ve laid my cards out on the table, I’ve told you what I want to do. The next move is up to you.”
He pressed me up against a shop window and pashed me. It was urgent and hungry and totally hot.
As we walked back to my house, his arm draped around my shoulder, my hand nestled in his back pocked, the Carlton Gardens resident bats screeching above us, I smiled to myself. Someone was walking me home.