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St John's

When I was 20-years-old my friend invited me to make some money working as a waitress at one of Andrew McKonnell’s pop-up restaurants at a gallery in the city. It was ten days, a healthy wad of cash and long hours  — I said yes. I remember we ran out of white vinegar and a man came up to me and asked me if I’d please get some more for him. Cash-in-hand, I sprinted to the nearest grocery store and returned to learn we still had 12 canisters full. We laughed. It turns out he was the manager of a fleet of McKonnell’s restaurants. He looked at me like I was pretty. I liked his attention, I liked what he represented. The thought was fleeting and the 10 days evaporated. 

Illustrated by Amy Zainal @stobebby

I found a share-house and bunkered down with my earnings. One week later he messaged me, saying that he hoped that it wasn’t unusual, but that he’d like to have dinner with me. He was traditional, he always paid. He was always willing to take me to restaurants where the men he knew were also bald. 

It felt good and we had good sex.  One day whilst walking down a busy strip, we joked that I would be incapable of raising children. 

“You’ll be 30 with ten cats in a loft somewhere in New York or Paris, writing and miserable but fulfilled,” he said.

It was the sweetest thing anyone had ever pigeonholed me as. When we were seeing each other he was grappling with a long term relationship-break-up. He was the type to buy five main dishes, three entrees and all the sides from a Thai restaurant by delivery while housesitting his friend’s mansion somewhere east while they visited the Riviera. 

“Have a shower,” he’d implore me. 

I’d try on all of the creams, lotions, oils on their shelves — a real poor person’s mentality. Like a kid in a candy store, I’d laugh. I’d take a shower and appear out of the bathroom smelling like a confused brothel.

I went to London a few months later and we were seeing each other on and off. He came on his own accord, I stayed with him at the Ace Hotel. We’d go to St John’s with his friends and eat lunch with a side of cocaine. I remember we drifted apart a bit after we left London. For no reason in particular, we knew where we stood. He was still in love with his ex-partner and I was young and incapable of much else but a good time. I didn’t mind, nor did he. I remember I was studying and we met up in another restaurant for lunch between my classes. I was excited because I was quite broke. He bought a bottle of white wine and we spoke about the possibility of me applying for a residency somewhere far and wide, that would never eventuate. We nodded and kissed cheeks and that was that. 

Years later, I ran into him outside one of his restaurants, which was not actually a restaurant but more a pub that has an extortionist fish pie. I stood in the stoop of its doorway smoking a cigarette while it rained and he thumped the door open. He said hi as he walked away to what I can only remember as a minivan. I’ve heard he has two kids with his ex now. 

Funny that.


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