Whilst this phenomenon appeared before me as a sudden jerking occurrence, it was actually the result of a rapid development on her behalf, which mirrored my stagnation. There had been about a six month gap in between my seeing her, during which she has been enjoying her first year out of school. The evolvement culminated in a night out in Melbourne whilst entertaining two friends from Sydney.
Sitting around the dinner table drinking cheap red wine out of mugs, my eighteen year old sister enters. Following the introductions I provide between my two friends, my sister offers but a brief smile and the obligatory ‘Nice to meet you’, before sighing, as though the whole process has been incredibly arduous. She then responds,
“Well…I have to go now. Have fun tonight kids.”
‘Kids’ immediately puts me on the back foot. The subconscious need to impress her dances through my mind. This is a disaster, as the girl is two and half years younger than me. Even acknowledging the commonly held belief that the fairer sex matures earlier than mine, this doesn’t sit well with me.
Having been sufficiently lubricated by the red, I propose to venture out into the night. My face blanks momentarily as I cycle through a mental compendium of options. Being a Tuesday night, the best I can muster is to trace my sister to the Toff on Swanston Street, where her friend Albert Salt, already under the auspices of Triple J Unearthed, is playing a brief set.
On arrival, with my attempts at getting on some sort of list proving futile, the three of us are required to pay the ten dollar entry fee. This is mildly vexing as I know my sister got in for free. Gazing around the band room people are huddled over dimly lit tables—apparently the done thing at Toff gigs now. We follow suit, grabbing the last vacant table in the back right corner and soon can’t help but notice my sister and her boyfriend, who can only be described as caricature of the iconic Melbourne hipster. Sitting confidently at the front, they then rise and begin to dance shamelessly in isolation to the dreamy electro-pop of Albert Salt.
Following the conclusion of the gig, my sister approaches us to suggest we accompany her troupe to a house party in Camberwell. Whilst I find their immense excitement that they’ve managed to a secure a parent-less house for the night adorably juvenile, we agree to join them.
Getting off the train we are told that as my sister has to go to pick up some alcohol first, a small Chinese boy called Toy will lead us to the house. She drives away and Toy immediately runs off into the night, leaving only his silhouette to be occasionally seen as he darts underneath the streetlights. Is this what Jack Kerouac meant by shambling after the ‘mad ones’ who ‘dance down the streets like dingledodies’? Probably not. But I still get the sense this may turn out to be another enjoyable phase of the night.
As the house has in fact been without adults for about a week, evidence of a youthful usurpation lies everywhere. Records and empty Camel pouches lay strewn across the floor, a deck has been set up blasting something called Unicorn Kid and a Super Nintendo is stationed in the front room, captivating several of the drugged up teenagers. They’re having new age fun with a vintage feel.
Having known most of the group for several years, they all do the rounds in approaching me to catch up. However unlike the last few times I’ve hung out with them, they are no longer so enamoured with me, beaming with awe at even the most mundane of tales from the land of university. They remain cordial, respectful and ostensibly interested but now perceive me as a mere mortal, only capable of holding their attention for about ten minutes.
As my sister checks up on me every now and then, I am humbled by the realisation that they—and my sister more importantly—are cooler than me for various reasons. It’s that they have mostly developed a better and more expansive musical taste than me, wear trendier clothes, have ventured far beyond me in the realm of drug experimentation and often simply look older than me. It’s that she has a significantly better grasp of the Melbourne nightlife and has surrounded herself with such vibrant characters. It’s that I can’t help but rise every morning frustrated about my grades and somewhat jaded by the social routine I’ve made for myself. It’s that on the other hand they appear to be more jovial, more excited about life than me and, like ravenous sponges, desirous to soak up as many new ideas and experiences as possible.