Old Boilers' Night
My dear friend Bec is getting married to her longtime love and co-creator of her two daughters, Phil. Whilst the nuptuals will occur next month, a friend decided to organise a Hens' Night for her on Saturday night.
Bec approached the idea with a fair amount of (quite reasonable) trepidation: "Look Pam, I'm thirty six years old. I don't need to wear a veil or have any condoms pinned on to my skirt, OK?" I don't know who was more relieved when Pam quickly agreed - Bec or me. No, it was simply to be a night out with the girls - food, wine, laughter and - if more wine was consumed - dancing.
Love Chunks and Sapphire drove Bec, Deb and myself into Rundle Street and were even kind enough to slow down to a mere 25km to let us roll out onto the tarmac unscathed. It was hard not to look after them with a droopy bottom lip as I longed to be with them at home, on the sofa, in my ever-reliable grey marle trakky daks, cuddling the dog. Nevertheless it did not take long for the top floor of the LemonGrass restaurant to fill up. There was about twenty of us 'hens', all frocked up and made up, and all a-chattering, a-clucking at Samara's 7 month-old belly and a-slurping the too-easy-to-inhale sparkling burgundy. Once again, the current trend in restaurant decor (hardwood floors, chrome and glass) made conversations only audible if screamed directly into my ear or drunkenly mimed in front of me.
The night was going along marvellously - as well as a moth at a lighthouse. I got to know a few of Bec's friends that I'd heard about for years and found that we all got along like well, the moth who found the lighthouse and then caught on fire because it was too huge and too hot and set him alight..... Or something like that; the sparkling burgundy was starting to play with my ability to pronunciate. Helped me hear a lot more though, I was sure of it.
Having ordered a Thai banquet for 20 was somewhat of a logistical challenge, especially when we were now onto white wines and vodkas. King Prawns scuttled away from my tenuous grasp with the chop sticks and the hokkien noodles were more slippery than a timeshare salesman at a seaworld smorgasbord. It was delicious though and made me very grateful to have worn all black for the evening so that the pesky beef strip escapees taking the perilous Cleavage route to the freedom of Skirt Valley could not be spotted.
"Whaaa-a-aaa? Oh, we're goin.... where are we ah goin to.....?" It was hard to tell whether I asked the question or heard somebody else holler it over the packed room of diners. It was easiest to follow the leader; the very decisive, tall, elegant and glamorous Kate. The Botanic Hotel.....!? My face glowed redder than the raspberry vodka I was holding as I remembered the last times I had been at the Bot. 1986 with Sean in the underground restaurant. Uber posh meal for us two students, of prawn cocktails (yep, resting on lettuce in wide champagne saucers), rump steak (with peppercorn sauce and chips thank you very much) and a chocolate mousse - hopefully not in a hastily-rinsed out prawn cocktail glass. And then, a few years later, on a date with Ian, the hopefully gropey geology PhD dude. His ancient Mazda smelled as though a flatulent jersey cow had slept in it, and Ian wasn't much better. My mature solution to avoid the inevitable octopus-wrestling conclusion to the hellish date was to liberally flush out my system with $4 bottles of champagne and then wind up - or should I say on the floor in the special room that flushes....
Looking around the velvety, funked-up interior didn't fill me with any sense of nostalgia, nor relief about the obvious design improvements. The front bar and pool room were jam-packed with hot, sweaty, 20-year old bodies - all of whom could have been my children, I realised glumly. My long black top, pink skirt and black boots had felt rather nice as I dabbed on some lippy in front of the mirror at home, but here I felt like I was looking for my young lad Nathan who had outstayed his curfew by two hours and had told me he was at choir practice.....
Poor Samara's difficulties squeezing past people with a Snoopy-like stomach forced the Hens to try the Stag hotel. Downstairs was much like the Botanic, but less velvet and more wood; and therefore much more spillage. This was all realised by my brain after my legs suddenly slipped through the beer slop, determinedly on their way to a full split if not thankfully stopped by the sides of the beer tables either side of the doorway. Any cool credibility I had was now gone, so I meekly hobbled after the rest of the hens up the stairs.
It was rather flattering to have our hands stamped by the bouncer and see him refuse a group of young girls and a larger bunch of young blokes. Why us? Did they want to increase the average age of the upstairs punters? Was it out of pity? Nah: after half a bottle of burgundy, a glass of white and two raspberry vodkas the answer was clear - it was because we were GORGEOUS. Our husbands didn't know how LUCKY they were to have such hot, intelligent, switched-on, sophisticated.....Oooops sorry about that Pam. I'll see if I've got some safety pins in my handbag when we get upstairs - I'm sure I'll be able to re-attach the bottom of your skirt somehow... these boots are longer and pointier than I thought.....
After venturing up the bar and having only been ignored by the groovy young bartender with Dumb Hair for ten minutes, I managed to scream out my order for a drink to make Pam less aware of her clothing troubles - "A double vodka with lemon and lime PLEASE, and I'll have a raspberry VODKA with...." My twenty buck note was eyed with disdain; not a bad achievement for someone with four eyebrow piercings: "It's twenty TWO dollars love."
LOVE? How dare he assume that because of my age that I'd accept being called such a patronising....... Hey, wait on a second - TWENTY TWO DOLLARS FOR TWO DRINKS?
Maybe I should have drunk up the spilt beer on the floor by the door instead of doing the splits.
Several drinks and giggles later, the other hens pushed their way through to the dance floor; a sticky wooden square wedged directly in front of the epileptic DJ. Samara sat with her hands on her in-vitro-vestibule looking weary. "They're all dancing, which is my sign for going home," I yelled into her ear. "Wanna go and find some taxis?"
And we did. Well, after taking another quarter of an hour hugging everyone goodbye, telling Bec we loved her and squeezing our way back through the sweaty youngsters - a 7 months' pregant Mum of three and her Nana, ready to jab someone in the buttocks with her automatic brolly if they didn't move along quick and sharpish.
I had a good night, honest I did. It's interesting - not fun - to do it occasionally, because it makes me realise just how grateful I am for what I have at home, which is the best nightspot in Adelaide in my opinion. The house was dark as I dropped the keys on the floorboards, gallumped around in my boots and dropped the eye-make-up remover jar on the bathroom tiles. All around me they were sleeping - Love Chunks, Sapphire and the orange dog. How I missed them that night!