‘What the FUCK?’
I mouthe off to myself, forehead in knots, as I scroll down my Expedia search results for ‘Melbourne Hotels’ for 4 nights in February. In the space of a mere few days since I last did this search, there was absolutely nothing available for less than $200 a night. I was incredulous. What the hell is going on?
I ask my travel agent Kimmy to have a look on her side, as maybe she knows some secret handshake with other travel agents that I don’t. I specify ‘close to Rendezvous Grand hotel on Flinders St, for about $100-$150 a night’. Kimmy said she might be able to get me a good deal with her connections. Connections my ass! A few hours later, she sends me a few options –all of which are in the $1000 range. ‘I’m sorry’ Kimmy writes, ‘..but it’s Valentine’s Day weekend and everything is booked out’.
Of course it is. I curse all these freaking couples who look like they’ve booked out ALL OF MELBOURNE for the weekend, and raising all the prices through the roof. I then curse myself for not even registering in my brain that it was Valentine’s Day on the Saturday, and why did I leave booking accommodation to the last minute?!? All I want is a bed to sleep in whilst I’m in Melbourne for a conference. It isn’t even all that romantic.
Later on that night, something miraculously becomes available on Expedia. Still over my price range, but it is a 4 star penthouse, self-contained, serviced apartment, close to one of the major streets, with ‘sweeping city views’. It has a fairly universal good rating of 4-5 stars from previous visitors. Desperately hoping that ‘self-contained apartment’ is not Expedia-salesperson-code for ‘divebomb, high-rise, crackhouse in the middle of woop woop’ I plug in my credit card details and in 2 minutes, it is booked.
Valentine’s day is starting to rumble in the city of Sydney in the days before I leave. The florist close to my work has already started to put together big bouquets of red roses. And there is still 4 days to go. I go to get a salad wrap for lunch and grab a serviette. When I take a better look at the serviette, it says this: ‘Even the universe is trying to tell me something!!!!!!’ I scream to myself.
Later on, I am in the office, at my computer plugging away at my notes and letters, when I hear an:
‘Oi – take a look at THIS’ coupled with hysterical laughter, coming from over my shoulder. Phoebe, the receptionist, is brandishing a Valentine’s Day Edition chocolate penis on a stick that she got at a candy store downstairs. It is wrapped in clear cellophane, tied off with a red ribbon.
‘ Oh my GOD – It even has veins on it!!!!’ She squeals.
‘Is there something inside it? Like some sort of cream perhaps?’ I reply coolly, without missing a beat, keeping a straight face, when on the Inside I am like ‘BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! LMFAO’
‘What about caramel?’ she shoots back, in our usual naughty-child-banter kind of way. We both burst out laughing so hard, we end up crying with laughter. Phoebe’s face is red, she’s barely able to speak and I am doubled over in my chair trying to steady my shaking sides.
‘Ok, that’s going a bit too far……Oh stop it both of you!!!!’ Amanda says, walking into the room to see us bent over, laughing our heads off, with Phoebe still cradling the chocolate penis in her hand.
Phoebe later tags me in a Facebook article, where the latest Valentine’s Day trend is for people to give their beloved a chocolate mould of their assholes. They get the chocolate poured and cast in the shape of their buttholes. I’m not kidding
‘What is going on in the world??’ Phoebe writes.
‘Well, it is a wise-ass gift’ I respond. But also thinking to myself that if this was what Valentine’s Day was about these days, then I was glad, glad, glad to be single.
I trudge through the 3 days of my conference in Melbourne, but when it is over, my Melbourne girls are all waiting for me. These are the same chicks I went to the Whitsundays with, and it is incredibly gratifying, relaxing and just plain old fun to hang out with them after 3 days of work. Charlotte takes me out to drinks at a funky looking bar on the Southbank. It has furry walls. Literally, grey, furry carpet running up the length of the wall and curving upwards towards the ceiling. Charlotte is a bit concerned with my gaze
‘Is this place ok? She asks cautiously
‘HELL YEAH IT IS!’ I say, ‘Unless you’re tripping over some class of hallucinogen – there’s no bar in Sydney that I know of that has furry walls!!’. I end up most of the night leaning up against the comforting furry wall with my Cosmopolitan firmly in hand.
On Valentine’s Day, me and the girls – 5 of out of 6 of us are single – band together to go to an Anti-Valentine’s day comedy night called ‘Tinder Horror Stories’. I am really pumped for it – as I am unashamedly looking forward to being entertained by other peoples’ lives for a while. The event is in a cool, trendy, warehousey décor style café on the Southbank. There are promises of speed dating, a 3 course dinner and trivia. I figure it’s in the bag.
Unfortunately, the whole thing ends up being a bit of a dive. The MC (who is a comedienne) tells us only one of her Tinder disasters (she dated a Darth Vader impersonator who lived in his mum’s laundry) then hands it over to the audience to share their stories – but also to pretty much do the whole show themselves. We did win the trivia AND got free breakfast vouchers, however, speed dating ends up being scrapped on the night – mostly because the whole place is pretty much filled by women.
But in the end, none of that really bothered me too much because I just loved being with my single girlfriends on Valentines Day. I always knew I was a ‘girls’ girl’, but this was definitive proof.
And, anyways, it certainly beat whatever my Sydney plans might have been. Which would probably have entailed something to the extent of spending all day in my pyjamas, eating a whole lot of junk food and watching ‘Dirty Dancing’ yelling ‘THAT’S RIGHT JOHNNY – NO ONE PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER GODDAMIT!!” at the TV like someone losing their shit over a sporting match.
After the night is over, we end up leaving the comedy night to play pool in a pub, then dancing the rest of the night away at a nightclub. Kellie is fairly drunk at this point. It’s the first time I’ve met her, but I really like her already and she seems like a really good friend to the others. It was understandable that she was a bit distant with me at first, but by the end of the night, she throws her arm around my shoulder and exclaims ‘You know……, I was talking to Mia about you……And I said to her, I said ‘I hate to fucking love that bitch’ – you that is. How you knew all those trivia questions – Man, I love that bitch’.
I was pretty amused and just a teeny bit grateful that Kellie had let me in to her inner circle – even if she might not remember it the next day.
Mia is also…happy….. but she knows me a bit better as we have been connected ever since the Whitsundays trip. As I’m about to leave the club to go home, she gives me two big hugs and says ‘You’re such a good person. And a beautiful…..beautiful person. Please come back to Melbourne. You can stay with me and my cat….Oh, and I love your dress by the way.’
It was a new dress that I’d bought in H&M Melbourne, of all the places, and thought it might be a goer for this occasion. My dress was a strapless, knee length, deep green with a wishy-washy rose / floral pattern on it that reminded me so much of Monet’s ‘Waterlillies’ that I had to have it. I loved the idea of being swathed in a watercolour painting. It was very romantic 🙂
When I finally get home at 3 am, and look down at my IPhone, there are, to my surprise, a barrage Valentine’s day texts from my Sydney girlfriends – ‘Happy V Day!’ says my friend Serena. ‘Love you lots’ from Elle. ‘Happy Valentine’s Day – hope you’re having a great time’ texts Sheen. ‘Happy Valentine’s’ says Scarlett.
So maybe I didn’t have a boyfriend this Valentine’s Day. Or a rose. Or a chocolate penis. Or a chocolate asshole for that matter. But that didn’t mean that I had no love in my life. Quite the opposite actually.