Sober, Single and Saucy
I woke up on the 1st of January this year in a double bed spooning two of my friends in their dad’s apartment in a small town just out of Sydney. I’d spent New Year’s Eve doing the coffee table dance competition with my top four Myspace friends after the COVID restriction hammer was dropped minutes before Christmas. My head hurt and my throat had the kind of texture that made me think for a second that maybe I had ‘ronas. Probably just bender ‘ronas though. The neighbour had banged on the door at 2am and said: “I can call the police or you can shut the fuck up!” as we wiggled around the plush carpet floor with our tops off.
I was ready to not feel this way again.
So, I didn’t drink for all of January. Dating and being sober is a weird experience. A guy from Hinge came into the café I worked. We went for coffee then met again for a swim. I had no idea how to be both saucy and sober. We sat in a Vietnamese restaurant and the conversation was kind of awkward. We talked about South America. I didn’t really know how to flirt and wondered for a moment if my personality was actually just beer. How many flings and friendships had I formed on the basis of alcohol? It was possibly almost all of them.
The 12 months up until this point had been a strange time to be single. I had my first threesome. I decided to experiment with becoming a dominatrix after meeting a guy at a pub and taking him home and asking if he wanted to be tied up.
“Rope or ribbon?” I said as I marched around my loft room.
“Rope, I guess,” he responded as he watched me from my bed. I was limping. I’d rolled my ankle on the curb on the way home and he’d basically had to carry me upstairs.
“I only have ribbon,” I said as I tied his hands to the bedhead. I realised then that I couldn’t be bothered with this. I untied him. Not sure that lifestyle is for me.
Another time, I did the walk of shame through the middle of a house auction, climbing out of an Uber wearing an all-white dress, high heels in hand, saying, “Sorry, sorry,” to the people in suits as I ambled toward my terrace stairs.
There were a few other strange blurry interactions and as I crashed head first into 2021. I realised I just wanted to start being different. So, I suddenly started to experience my own personality head-on without having been hungover, drunk or wobbly from the weekend as a means of explaining my discomfort.
The guy from my café/Hinge told me he just wanted to be friends, and I just had to sip my kombucha as yet another one bit the dust. I finished dry January and entered a slightly damp but still fairly dry February. My personality was still hanging around in its full unfiltered version, and I actually did become friends with Café Hinge guy. Then I got feelings for Café Hinge guy; cue positively sopping wet March and April. We’re talking like, La Niña rainfall.
In 2020, I discovered the beauty of the Instagram DM slide. It’s like a more specific Hinge, where you just reply to people’s stories who you think are cool without having to breaststroke through the human wasteland of dating apps. A few weeks ago, a video of me calling out some surf contest organisers for having unequal prizemoney for men and women went viral, and suddenly I was on the receiving end of many a DM slide. If Café Hinge guy didn’t like me now, he never would.
Then I turned 28, and instead of buying an air fryer (as seems to be the expected choice when your late twenties arrive), I cut my losses and decided to go sober. Like, fully sober.
The days are longer when you don’t drink. I can watch my friends cross over in a park and laugh with them in the afternoon sun and, as they trundle home to eat takeaways, I can smugly get in my car and drive to Bondi to swim in the sunset. I am not sure how this decision will go. I just have the sense that alcohol doesn’t offer me anything anymore.
Maybe it’s temporary. But suddenly my plain old, unabridged personality doesn’t seem so scary anymore. I even brushed a boy’s hand in broad daylight and he didn’t seem to mind. If that’s not saucy then please, pass me the kewpi mayo.
Cover by Priscilla Du Preez