I went on a date last night. She was pretty, with blue hair and Colgate commercial chompers playing hide and seek behind really smoochy lips. Red ones. (Her lips, not her chompers.) She took my hand and we strolled through this park, one of those big botanical ones. The trees were huge and lovely and had nametags nailed to their tummies. There were half-hearted hills covered in good grass, little flowerbeds and lots of native plants. Giving shape was a slinky slow river that meandered between lazy oaks and ghost gums to fill up a fat bellied lake. Some oil painting ducks were chatting in the middle, and at the edges, near the boardwalk, there were reeds and things that smelt like long gone school camps, good ones.
It was a still night, big coloured light bulbs were strung along the path, and our footsteps crunched softly while crickets told jokes to each other. We had nothing to say, but plenty to look at. We held hands, not whole hands, it was just a pinky hold – like when you let go of someone’s hand and then you both change your mind at the last minute, and just hold pinkies. It’s this tenuous link, like a loose tooth, nature or gravity or some other bully should break it, but it holds. Your pinkies stay there, linked, not locked, that wouldn’t be sweet - linked. After a while we let go, only it felt like we didn’t. Because we had hummed and buzzed through that link so brightly, when the connection broke it felt like hanging up the phone only to discover the person you were talking to was in the same room.
After ten fairy lit minutes our path crested a hill, and we stumbled into a hullabloo, a shindig, a sort of medieval hoo-ha. The bbq area was overflowing with costumed locals - you know, Knights and lords and peasants in green stockings. They were having a ball; there was sword fighting, dwarf tossing and a sausage sizzle.
I spent my last three bucks buying her a sausage in bread. It was burnt and I couldn’t afford onion, but she got the last smoke in the pack gesture and offered to share.
We sat on this hay bail made out old TVs strapped together with shoelaces. We finished our snack and sat there quietly, not really knowing what to say or do. She looked at me and said my pants were a bit grubby. I got really embarrassed, but then she grinned and dusted some faint traces of dirt off my knees. I made a stupid chuckling sound in my throat; she’d just wanted to touch me. She laughed at my laugh and the night suddenly seemed deeper, a lightning shift from foot spa to diving pool.
My laugh died just after hers, I looked at her, she wasn’t going to speak. I told her she had some burnt sausage crumbs on her cheek and I brushed them off with my thumb. She blushed. I did that stupid laugh again, but she just pushed my hand away. She looked hurt. I tried my best eye hug but she looked away. I told her it was ok, she didn’t really have sausage on her cheek, that I just made it up. She asked me why. I told her I didn’t know, “because I’m an idiot?”
She screwed the sauce-stained napkin into a ball and shoved it up my left nostril, then she whistled to a passing peasant who immediately ran over and started beating me with his homemade stick.
She stood up, jumped on the back of the horse this tinfoil knight was riding and trotted away. It was painful and humiliating, and not just for me. As I lay there getting wailed on by some DIY peasant in stockings, my heart went out to the Blue Kelpie, painted white, being ridden like a horse.