By Ali Webb
It was my first Tinder date and I obviously had no idea what I was doing, but I wanted to look like I did.
I had a plan.
We were to meet at The Reverence in Footscray at 6pm. I was going to give the Tinder Date two hours and then I was going to meet my girlfriends at Back Alley Sally’s at 8pm as a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card. If we liked each other, we would plan another date. If we didn’t, I had an escape route.
It seemed flawless.
Except upon arriving at The Reverence five minutes early, I discovered it was closed. The only other bar I could think of moving the date to was Back Alley Sally’s around the corner where I was meeting my pals. It was a risk, but I was under time pressure and I had to make a decision. Fast.
After changing my seating position three times: the booth (too open), the bar (too closed), the corner table with stools (too awkward in high waisted jeans), I chose an open large table that wasn’t too noisy. The bar was super warm and friendly in comparison to the rainy Melbourne night, and the beer selection was ripe for the picking.
My date arrived from the inner Northern suburb of Carlton admitting that the change in venue and the threatening dark laneway where Back Alley Sally’s sits in Footscray was a little scary.
The bar had already made me feel at ease so we discussed the venue, the attractive staff, the beers and pizzas available from Slice Girls West below.
Then it got serious. My date stopped the conversation bluntly, staring me intently in the eye, pausing to gather his thoughts. He was scripting something.
‘Ali. I’m so sorry. I really am. I just have to tell you something and I’m not sure how this is going to go.’
I felt sick. I was a crap date.
‘Your fly is so undone. It’s so open. I’m trying so hard to look you straight in the eye and hold conversation, but I can’t go on. I’m sorry.’
I looked down and my 30cm zipper on my high waisted jeans was wide open, like a vortex, alarmingly displaying my white knickers for all to see. Sitting on a stool did not help this situation.
I zipped up and told my Tinder Date that I wanted to go home. He laughed, explained that he was ready to move on and continue our time as long as I could forget that it had happened (I obviously haven’t). So we drank more beers and smashed out a few laughs. He was a funny guy.
Ten minutes before my girlfriends were set to arrive, I gave him a warning: ‘My girlfriends are on their way, they will squeal with delight at catching us on a Tinder Date, they will quiz you, they will drink and swear and ask you intimate questions. You are welcome to stay and drink with us, or you can use this time as your get out of jail free card.’
He stayed. We drank. We laughed. My girlfriends quizzed. It was now a Tinder Date of Five. He left a while later and we exchanged numbers. I ran back inside the bar and debriefed with my girlfriends over more beer and pizzas from Slice Girls West.
The pizza toppings quickly diverted our discussion: The Forever Mushroom with its truffle-scent provided distraction from the filthy but entertaining conversation coming from our booth. The crust was perfect in my opinion, not too thin, prepared well and cared for and cut in perfect sharable sizes. The Wannabe Warwick pizza with its artichokes and capers matched our gossipy squeals as our table discussed boys like we were 16 again. But it wasn’t just the pizzas, the Tinder Date banter and booze that made for an excellent night; the staff at Back Alley Sally’s were so friendly, the venue was cosy and I felt like I was surrounded by friends even though the bar was full of strangers.
It was an excellent start to a new friendship. The Tinder Date got my number and we ventured out a week later on a second date. There quite possibly might be a third. Perhaps it was because of my cool choice of venue or maybe it was my ridiculous friends, either way if you’re looking for a sweet place to meet a kind stranger, Back Alley Sally’s might just be the spot you’ve been searching for.
Back Alley Sally’s and Slice Girls West can be found at 4 Yewers Street, Footscray. Visit www.backalleysallys.com.au for more information and to view the delicious menu.