Its quite awkward because its in public and I’m not drunk

National Young Writers Festival 2011

To paint a picture for those who weren’t there- Writer Wants a Wife was closely modelled on Perfect Match. Each “writer” sat behind a screen and asked questions of a series of potential “wives.” Based on their answers the writers then had to pick one contestant to go on a date with. We all on the same page now? Ok cool.

I begin the evening leaning against a fireplace with a pillow case over my head. To be clear, the pillow case does have an eye slit and a small mouth hole (which Lawrence manages successful to fit a straw through so he can finish his drink). The most amusing thing about our newfound state of abnormality is the people who keep walking up to us.
One slightly confused looking woman comes and stands on the periphery of our small circle. We all stare blankly at her (blank being the only kind of stare you can do with a pillow case on your head.)
“Am I…is this Writer Want a Wife?”
“Yep.”
Awkward pause.
“So I just go…find a seat?”
“Yeah.”
The woman leaves slightly hastily. Lawrence comments that she talked to us as though this situation was perfectly normal.

(I now pass you into the capable hands of my brother Fin for a running commentary)
6:21pm- Lex gets video interviewed and asked if she’s wearing underwear. Answer- undisclosed.
6:31pm- Everyone is growing either more excited (if audience) or mildly more apprehensive (if writer/wife).
6:33pm- Apparently the dress code for those participating involves the inclusion of at least one item of reflective clothing. Note- only three participates seem to have got the memo.
6:36pm- All participants seem to be being given free drinks. I’m quite sure the NYWF artist agreement does not cater for unexpected pregnancy.
6:39pm- The “writers” emerge looking like members of the Taliban.
6:41pm- Wait, the reflective clothing is just for the presenters, in true reality show style.
6:45pm- The strangeness begins.
6:47pm- Some interpretive dance from wife #1.
6:47pm- Innuendo promising to be the ongoing theme of the night.
6:49pm- Desperate Canberra…ian spontaneously joins the search for love.
6:54pm- Anecdotes about love ensure.
6:55pm- And misquoting (in harsh contexts).
7:00pm- Mass wedding to writer #1 suggested.
7:05pm- Heavy literary based sexual references.
7:09pm- On being given a compatibility of 11% success wife #1 proclaims “This is qualitative dammit!”
7:10pm- We all enjoy some dated Neighbours romance.
7:13pm- “What if you’re not dutch?”
 “Then its just a bit racist.”
7:14pm- Freakishly popular man walks on stage. Crowd goes wild. Other wives are moderately intimidated.
7:16pm- Person with accents should be banned. Seems like an unfair advantage.
7:17pm- Lex has to choose between three men with facial hair (one lacking in other hair) and one with an Irish accent.
7:18pm- The first question is “You are asked to describe yourself to someone who has never met you before using mime. You are allowed to have three props. What would they be and why?’
7:19pm- Wife #1 ruins all chances by choosing a shot gun, a flower and another person for his mime.
7:24pm- Wife #2- “The scale model of Euro Disney serves to represent the mix of fun and lack of success which is my life.”
7:25pm- Lex spring her zombie book question- you’re only allowed to take one book to the end of the world (to make room for all the canned goods). What would it be and why?
7:26pm- It seems wife #3 can take his pick of women in the room.
7:27pm- Host Laura shows favouritism toward wife #2.
7:28pm- Laura- “You in the ironic jumper! Pipe down!”
7:29pm- Lex gets mood music and ten seconds to decide.
7:30pm- Lex and Luke (wife #2) make very civilised greeting.
7:31pm- Lex flirts with one of the wives she didn’t choose in front of the one she did.
7:32pm- The compatibility results give them 79%.

Aaaaand Alex is back.
7:42pm- Tim is now being grilled by his date. Ironically he is the only wife.
7:43pm- Tim’s perfect date would be “an adult version of the Magic Faraway Tree.”
7:44pm- Potential other names suggested for the event (to avid the heterosexual connotations) Writer Wants a Punt, Writer Wants a Significant Other, Writer Wants a Life.
7:49pm- Wife #1 is looking for “Someone strong with Viking characteristics.”
  Lawrence- “Shit.” *leaves*
7:51pm- Wife #2 is looking for someone “who can spell onomatopoeia.”
 Lawrence- “Shit.”
7:52pm- Lawrence is making approving noises about Sian’s bio. I’m cheering for her pretty hard.
7:54pm- This is intense!
7:56pm- Lawrence- “You have mutant super powers. What would they be and how would they help us on our date.”
Sian- “I’d be Storm because I think the Earth moving on a first date would be a pretty good sign.”
Massive cheer.
8:00pm- Down to the final question. I really want Sian to win. Nothing against the other two or anything.
8:01pm- The overenthusiastic crowd (of which Express and student medias are a fair percentage) just preformed an impromptu rendition of the coconut song.
8:05pm- Argh! Tie breaker! TENSION! Can you feel it internet? TENSION!
8:06pm- Lawrence- “There are no losers in this game. Only in life.”
8:07pm- SIAN HAS IT!
8:08pm- Quote of the night from Lawrence “Its quite awkward because its in public and I’m not drunk.”

After the room clears and various people make awkward encouraging comments, we are then handed a block of cheese, biscuits, fortune cookies, fake champagne and a picnic blanket. By picnic blanket I mean the doona cover which matches the pillow I was wearing earlier. Luke and I go and sit on this “blanket” under a streetlight on the foreshore. I did not actually make notes during the date. Because that wouldn’t be civil.

While I’m disclosing the details of my “love life” (insofar as being on a dating event like this counts) I may as well be honest. Depending on your definition, I haven’t really been on a whole lot of dates. The fact I have to include the “depending on your definition” clause tells you pretty much everything you need to know (which is nothing at all).

With my extensive experience in mind, I would say it went quite well. It was fun. That’s saying something ok. Just take a moment to picture this scenario. I’ve never met this guy before. I just picked him over three other guys based on the merits of his response to a series of stupid questions. We are now sitting on a doona cover eating cheese while a guy films us and says “Laugh more!” Correct. Someone is directing our date. It is at this stage that I point out that Lawrence and Sian are sitting in a tree and maybe he should go film them instead.

Along with cheese and “wine” we have been provided with a serious of helpful conversation starters. I use the term helpful very loosely. Though they start well (what book are you reading?) the tone quickly descends (Tell me about your most traumatic break-up?) until they become downright ridiculous (Do you like me?). As Luke points out it is rather like being on a date with autistic person.

Adding to the general atmosphere is a nearby wedding (there was an actual bride having photos taken in the near vicinity). The DJ of said wedding plays Big Butts, Can’t Touch This and All The Single Ladies in a row. If that isn’t mood music I don‘t know what it. In the middle of this we are called away individually to describe our date in one word. While Luke has his turn I go and talk to Sian and Lawrence. Following the trend of bizarre and slightly awkward situations, Lawrence proceedes to give me advice about wooing Luke. “Lawrence Leung once gave me dating advice while sitting in a tree” has been added to my anecdote list.

I feel as though maybe I’m giving this date a bad wrap. Have I ever told you that once, in a small notebook, I wrote the phrase “play incompetence for laughs” as a memo to myself? That is true. You are now privy to the secret behind this blog (and most of my life). Luke was lovely. We talked about books, The Internet, comedy and a whole bunch of other stuff. We had an actual discussion about the merits of Dead Cat Bounce (long term readers will appreciate this statement). I was a lot less awful than I was expecting the evening to be.

We eventually decided to head inside to the Going Down Swinging Launch. We dumped our “blanket” and the remaining cheese in the bin and cracked open our fortune cookies.
My fortune said “There is a single answer to every question; it is usually wrong.”
Interpret that as you wish.

For more dating awkwardness come along the debrief session on Sunday night. I gather there will be a lot of footage of people laughing awkwardly. 

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year