February 04, 2003
A Night of Few Words
Good poetry has the ability to say, in a few words, what it takes a novelist chapters - or so said a friend to me a few years back. I think this statement is generally true. Though I have never been a prolific reader or writer of poetry, I have been known to throw down a few lines on occasion, when inspired. A smattering of times stand out in my memory - exploring an old antique shop in Bloomington, in a hotel room in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and on a morning train through fields of sunflowers near Madrid, Spain.
The most recent time occurred Saturday morning, following a Friday evening of drunken debauchery on the town with my friends Craig and Lindsay. If you are pressed for time, you can skip straight to the poem at the end and you will have a good idea of the course of the evening, at least for me. However, if you have a bit of time, the background story is interesting as well.
Due to my waitressing schedule, I had only been "out" in Melbourne a few times, and almost never on the weekends. Lindsay had been after me to live in the moment, reminding me that my work visa was coming to an end and that I would regret it if I didn't hit the town at least a few times before I left the city. I knew she was right, but as most people know, I'm not the biggest drinker, and going out, especially in Australia, usually entails throwing back a few cold ones.
I follow a hard and fast rule to never have more than one drink when travelling in a foreign land with people I don't know or trust. For a traveller going it solo, this is a smart philosophy - keeping your wits about you at all times is one of the first rules of travelling. For me, dubbed "One Martini Melanie" by my San Francisco roommates, this is a necessary one. It doesn't take much to get me drunk - which at times is a blessing and at times a curse.
However, when with close friends, friends I know I can totally trust, I have been known to let my guard down just a little bit. This was one of those nights.
We started at Brunetti's, a well-known Italian restaurant on Lygon Street, a little Italy of sorts. Dinner started with wine - a bottle, not a glass. My two friends were strangers to each other, but after my standard get-to-know-you introductions I found everyone getting along like old friends. As the night progressed we mastered the art of upside down digital photography, writing on paper table clothes, and the specials board. We’d also bonded with our waitress, Hedvig, a student from one of the Scandinavian countries – which one, I can’t for the life of me remember.
By the time dinner ended, we'd finished two bottles of wine and decided the night was just beginning. We took a few more pictures, bid farewell to Hedvig, and caught a cab for the nightlife of Brunswick Street. After a few false starts, we settled in at Black Pearl, a small trendy bar located just a few blocks from my restaurant job. We met a group of cool Aussies and spend most of the evening chatting with them. I don't remember how long we were there before the round of tequila came, but I know that was the turning point in the evening, at least for me.
As for the rest of the evening, I think it can be best summed up by the short poem I wrote after I woke up Saturday morning.
“One Martini Melanie”
Walking down stairs from my bedroom
The contents of my stomach heavy in my hands
Double-bound in plastic shopping bags
The night was great
Until the tequila