$8 House Red

Bella Robson on bad choices, bad dates, and bad wine.

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Oprah Winfrey deemed Maya Angelou her ‘mentor-mother-sister-friend’. She famously recounts one of her most profound A-ha moments with Maya the day she divulged the guilt of her twenties and reckless, immature escapades. Maya sympathetically replied “You did the best you could with what you knew back then. When you know better, you can do better.”

I stumbled across the wise insight a couple of years ago. However, it was only a couple of months ago that I found myself sitting across from what I could describe as not-generally-my-type-but-I-didn’t-just-replenish-my-contraception-for-nothing kind of guy. Granted, a white trash Italian restaurant in the South-Westerly ‘burbs of Brisbane is no Van Gough painting, however for a first date with a guy I met on Hinge 72hrs prior, she’ll do.

My lips are stained and my inhibitions are saturated by the $8 house red; I’m feeling frisky and, as always, less than. My self-confidence is aching for the flaccid stoke of mediocrity. The end is nearing, and my superficial eagerness is heightened by those five words every girl loves to hate to hear; “wanna come back to mine?” BIG YES. My fragile ego could do with some mileage; God knows my safe word is ‘low self-esteem’.

The journey back to his house has me clawing for conversation. He likes to read and so do I, however our tastes in literature don’t necessarily align. He’s rattling off a SparkNoted recap of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I myself am yet to indulge in this hot read, as Texan connection and vulnerability yogi Brene Brown has famously stressed the contrary of in fact giving a fuck. As I braid the limited strands of his ‘worldly view’ with my words of empty engagement I’m yet to work up the courage to tell him my reading interests — none of which can be found on the GoodReads ‘Top Ten Non-Fiction’ list.

He opens the front door to expose the guts of quintessential Australian heteo-male sharehouse living. ‘The Ironside Siren’ from Kill Bill penetrates my inner monologue. My direct line of vision spotlights the 2×4 artificial grass off-cut — apparently categorised as a floor tapestry (term implied loosely) — in the main living area. Architectural. Digest. Would. NEVER. Capitalising this horticultural hate crime is a Commodore Bathurst Racing fashioned office chair considered ‘pole position’ for seating located smack-bang in the middle of this disdained island of green. I have to cease all surveillance when I see a copy of The Barefoot Investor dogeared and waterlogged in bong-water on the Bunnings outdoor glass table — which is, you guessed it, indoors. Can the asbestos riddled roof just cave in and swallow me whole already?!

Don’t get me wrong, I myself am partial to an LED ‘Kebab’ sign as a laugh for a sharehouse fixture. But when tacky maximalist decor breaks its banks past irony; Houston, we have a problem. 

What am I doing here?

How did I get here?

How do I get out of here?

This is the debris of questions that churn inside the tsunami of my disappointment. Let me by crystal clear; this disappointment is not directed at the John Doe in question, but towards me, myself, and I. Iyanla Vanzant says “life throws a pebble before it throws a brick”. Perhaps John Doe’s dating profile was my pebble?

Credit: Julian Wan on Unsplash
Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash, edited

We both take a seat on the corner of his bed; flannelette sheets in summer, nice touch. The waft of distilled testosterone and Chemist Warehouse Hugo Boss coward punches my sinuses. A medley of socks and tissues spreads to the parameters of his vinyl carpet — I don’t need a bluelight nor Olivia Benson to confirm my suspicions of these items containing all the same procreational fluids. I’d bet my life insurance that this guy has a Bintang singlet for every day of the week and used two-stroke oil as personal lube.

My blatant disgust is interrupted by an index finger trailing up my thigh. 

“Didn’t wanna shave above the knee, aye?” He smirks.

At this point I can’t even disseminate what is the straw and what is the camel’s back — ME NEED OUT.

“It’s not me, it’s you — au revoir.” Eye-contactless and hand gripping the handle of his defective front door fly screen, these are my parting words.

Poised and in the backseat of my Uber X, AirPods in and ‘The Ketchup Song’ (Spanglish version) pummelling my eardrums. The moment of reflection is on the horizon, yet to be endured. Alas, that’s my 3AM insomnia’s issue for a rainier day.

Cue iMessage notification, “Hey, did I do something wrong ha ha?”

Sweetie, it’s not what you did wrong, it’s what your mother crippled by internalised gender oppression and societal ‘shush’ wasn’t able to do right.

I reply — Just kidding, I don’t reply. I block him on all platforms and report him on Hinge.

Knowing better and still not doing better; I’ll raise my $8 house red to that.

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A final memo to any and all cisgendered, white, heterosexual men that I have had the unfortunate sexual orientation toward; To paraphrase Dame Naomi Campbell, “Check you Feng Sui before you come and critique my shaving technique!”

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Bella Robson is a ‘Neurotic Empath wannabe-Nympho’ who likes to skip the long walk on the beach and dive straight into the pina coldas and poor choices. Follow her at @_bellarobson_ for Joe Exotic cosplay.

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