Date: 31 August, the last day of winter here.
Three years ago, Bunky and I realised that what was really missing from our social calendar was a competitive event. We love the ephemeral and artificial champagne glamour of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the breezy ease of summer season Portsea Polo, our Oktoberfest celebrations are sehr guht and a mess of lusty Fräuleins and Herrs in their Leiderhosen and our annual, themed Progressive Dunch (a lunch that extends into dinner and then well into the night) through our Richmond streets is extravagent and hilarious (this year’s event took us from tequila cocktails and canapés in Mexico, to a Schoolies-themed appetizers, to a pop-up Bierhaus for main course, to a Mad-Hatter’s tea party for a sweets and concluded at a suave candlelit cheese and wine affair for 25) but we’re a terribly competitive bunch and there was a need for some sort of race, some sort of challenge. A new annual event, The Hunt, was born.
First we lock down thirty to forty of our nearest and dearest and maddest friends, split them off into 4 teams, encourage inter-team sledging then, on the night, hand out scavenger hunt challenge sheets and set them loose to terrorise a neighbourhood before meeting on a designated pub dancefloor. All evidence of challenges completed is uploaded to a private event in Facebook. Pre-game briefing starts at 5pm and by 7pm someone has usually kissed a bartender, there are suspicious chalk body-outlines down the sidewalks and bar bouncers start greeting you with a frosty ‘are you on that hunting thing?’
Yesterday, when Bunky and I went about hiding bonus point sheets in preparation, a bartender at the Lord Newry asked if this was some Uni thing, or for a bucks night. When I told her that we’re all almost thirty and just doing it for fun she laughed and just said, “Respect!”.
Last night, ignited by Afternoon Fireball shots, our teams of legends did not disappoint. Challenges included a photo in handcuffs (bonus points if in a police vehicle), the whole team doing handstands, mislabelling the men’s and women’s bathrooms, the whole team off the ground, the whole team mooning (props to the one team who completed these last two challenges at the same time), piling as many hipsters as possible into a photo, giving a stranger a foot massage, kissing a stranger on one of Brunswick Street’s mosaic benches and procuring a kiss from a man in uniform (surprisingly hard: though the taxi drivers and parking inspectors of Fitzroy had a great night).
Peter Hitchener (arguably the country’s most famous newsreader) gave an Instagram shoutout to the Red Team, the Blue Team completed the ‘photo with a celebrity’ challenge when they accosted Charlie Pickering near Bimbo Deluxe and Fetish, an adult store on Brunswick St, changed their Facebook profile photo to a photo of the Luigi-costumed Green Team. When I kissed the moustachioed owner of The Evelyn for challenge no. 19, he let us dance atop his bar (challenge no. 23) and made our team drink Grappa shots with him.
The night ended at jazz club, The Night Cat. There was much twirling and dipping (and dropping!) and colourful props were shed and shared. I had started the night wearing a yellow Infectious Waste bag as a cape and sporting glasses (as part of the Yellow ‘Ebola Virus’ Team) but came home only with a pink tiara and very sore feet.
I slept soundly from 3am until late, utterly exhausted by not only the whirlwind that was planning, executing and participating in something quite this mental, but also by The Drama At The Night Cat (my book title?). Let me set you the stage.
The Hunt brings together all of our most outgoing friends, from all of our different friendship groups — including pairs of ex-flames and couples of current crushes. Naturally enough, romace blossoms between the challenges and it’s not unusual to see, at the end of the night, a Green Team girl proudly wearing a the yellow novelty glasses of one of her rivals, or a Blue Team boy covered in the brilliant scarlet lipstick of a Red Teamer. In the chaos that was planning the event, I’d failed to consider that I was going to end up on a dance floor with the devoted Wolfgang, a doctor I’d met at The Hunt 1.0 who’d charmed me with sexy booktalk (let’s call him Hemingway), a handsome but hopeless lawyer I’d studied with and, briefly, almost dated who was now in a long term relationship with someone else (he gets the moniker Clark Kent, for his hot nerd vibe and also his duplicity).
It was a comedy.
Wolfgang was being my too-loyal, too-attentive guardian. Clark Kent kept trying to slow dance with me and confess his undying love. I rather wanted to drink shots with the tall Frenchman friend of Tassels’. But Hemingway was being terribly distracting. Even Bunky’s boyfriend — not yet known for his social nous — commented on the pack of lost puppies I seemed to have acquired. Bunky had also enlisted several single friends for The Hunt, one of who was so lovely. But when he tried to buy me a drink it was everything I could do not to scream “SERIOUSLY?” I eventually stole someone’s tiara and made a Houdini exit — leaving the boys to entertain one another.
In other news, this early evening as I trudged, hungover, down Bridge Road to buy myself an entire pizza and truly naughty $7-a-pot organic chocolate mousse from Thomas Dux — sporting a pair of truly offensive Black Milk ‘Jellylegs’ leggings, last night’s eyeliner, undone orange Converse and bed hair — who should startle me into life with a beep from their slick black car?
Three points if you guessed my favourite barista. And now, I die.