Entries in Weird stuff (21)


Sex doesn't always sell


It takes a bit to shock me, but a recent event left me insulted and thinking WTF.

Marina and Jane, (work friends) and I were looking forward to spending time together at a hotel launch.  The invitation offered nice wine, a relaxed dinner and the opportunity to enjoy their five star facilities.   A good chance to catch up.

We were greeted in the foyer by staff who offered us wine and canapés.  A delicious spread of arancini balls, smoked salmon and meat things that are of no interest to me lay in abundance.  We chatted about our day before being guided into another room by a woman dressed (cheaply) as Marilyn Monroe.  She whispered and pouted and seemed uncomfortable in her role. 

After a brief presentation with no substance we were corralled to another area – another lobby – with more hors d’oeuvres and champagne on offer.   As we stood awkwardly wondering why we needed to check out a long hallway, ‘Marilyn’ invited us to head down to the bar for “a very special treat”. 

In the bar, a vivacious bar tended mused with enthusiasm that we were about to try the hottest thing around right now.  An espresso martini.  Ah, I’ve been drinking those for about ten years thanks to the Hot Barista.  You’re a little late.   Glancing at the bar lined with cocktails, I noticed their insipid colouring … and guaranteed to my friends that they would be bad versions of my beloved espresso martini.  I needed to try one.  Just to check.  Sipping nervously, my fears were real.  They were made with a coffee essence.  One taste and I was done.

I noticed the same canapés from two previous rooms on display.  Recycled hors d’ouvres ?  How very eco-friendly.  WTF?

One of the hotel staff suggested we head upstairs to check out the penthouse so we wandered back into the main foyer.  She went back into the bar, presumably to find more guests, and after waiting for 20 minutes in front of the cold open door, we noticed her drinking cocktails with her workmates.  WTF?

Finally another staffer lead us to the penthouse for a tour.  These can be fun, as I like to see how the other half live.  There’s no penthouse version in the cheap hotels I stay in.  You’re lucky if they have a hair dryer.

We snaked our way through the room and I noticed Marilyn draping herself over a king-sized bed while a photographer took shots of her.  WTF?  Does she come with the room?  Is she the one who delivers room service?  I was a little confused.

Marina, Jane and I climbed the polished spiral staircase with our hosts and found ourselves in a giant tiled room with a large spa bath, front and centre.   My OH&S brain kicked in as I worried about how to get out of the bath on such a slippery floor without castrating yourself.  Not a bathmat in sight. 

As we waited for the others to join us (still sculling their cocktails) we chatted to two boys who ran an entertainment company.  They were funny and cute and also slightly confused as to what was going on.   We agreed we wanted things to hurry up so we could get to dinner as the second hand canapés weren’t cutting it.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, sorry to keep you waiting but we have something very special for you”, sing songs a male staffer. 

By this time the room is packed and we are all jammed into one end of the giant bathroom.  My back is pressed against the bubbled tile wall and I can only just see over the shoulders of the crowd in front of me. 

Suddenly there’s a muffled cheer and Marilyn enters the room clutching a bottle of champagne.  She sashays around pouting and blowing kisses at everyone as they take photos.  Sure.  Whatever. 

Marilyn stops in front of the spa and does a little shimmy before turning her back on us all and kicking off her heels.   She then drags the long zipper of her sequined dress down and steps out of it, letting it drop to the floor.   What’s going on, I whisper to Marina who gives me a puzzled look.  Marilyn turns to face us and we find she’s wearing tiny nipple covers and a flesh coloured G-string.  WTF?

A girl next to me has her phone held high in the air so I can see the charade clearly on her screen.  We both gasp at each other as Marilyn climbs into the bathtub and kneels in the water.   She then splashes around briefly while a few take photos and video.  I press myself further into the wall, praying it swallows me up.  Jane and Marina look dumbfounded.  I feel the same.

Marilyn then stands up in the bath, grabs a bottle of champagne and clutches it with her thighs as she pops the cork dramatically.   She lets the liquid flow down her breasts as she wriggles provocatively making little moaning noises.  I feel dirty.  Am I at a buck’s party? Surely someone is going to yell “Surprise, you’ve been punked!”

Finally, a female Manager suggested everyone head to dinner.   A few guests followed her down the staircase while others posed in front of Marilyn.  Still in shock I see her lick the champagne bottle like someone on heat.  WTF?   As the boys pose for a photo I sneak one (from the back) to prove to myself – and others – that this really happened.  

I wondered how much this actress / model / promo girl got paid for that gig.  I wanted to give her $100 and tell her to put her clothes on and get an Uber home. 

We declined the offer of dinner and left.  I was in shock and disgusted at the stunt, fearing that perhaps Marilyn would be covered in food like a human buffet at our next stop.   Excuse me, can you please move your right breast and pass me some of that smoked salmon?  Thanks.  No thanks.

That night I was still wondering how a Marketing team could think that was a good idea for an upmarket hotel.   Any hotel.  It was tacky, salacious and pointless I noted to the hotel manager in my complaint (finding lots of big words to use to describe my disgust).  I talked of my horror at the objectification of women and wondered what sort of image they were trying to portray.  To her credit, she followed me up and we had a good conversation.  She invited us back to the hotel another time for a better experience.  Do you think Marilyn will be there? Let's hope she got a new gig somewhere.  


Lessons from living on $2 a day

This was my seventh year doing Live Below the Line – a fundraising and awareness initiative run by Oaktree Foundation to help end extreme poverty.  You live on (food and drink) $2 a day for a week … the equivalent of the poverty line in developing countries.  Though that includes transport, accommodation … everything ... for those people. 

The challenge never gets easier, but each time I am reminded of important lessons, which is one of the key parts of doing it.  

The first and most obvious is that we have so much more than some people, and you really don’t need as much food as you think you do.  I come from a family who would pile dinner plates high with delicious food and we’d happily devour every last piece of whatever was served  … then maybe a little bit of dessert afterwards.  When you’re faced with a half filled bowl of bad bland pasta, it’s amazing how you can still fill up – and not be wanting more.  Note to self; stop over indulging.  (Have I done this since?  Sort of. I’ve certainly tried.)  

The week of LBL was also a reminder about how much free food we get at work.  Cake for birthdays.  Cheese Platters on Fridays.   With wine.  Catering from clients.  Home made treats from the people who like baking.  There’s always something tasty and free up for offer.  A few people suggested I could just eat the food because I didn’t have to pay for it, but I reminded them that there’s no free food in Cambodia or PNG, so unfortunately I’d need to wait a week to enjoy their to-die-for brownies.

My job is quite social, so I probably took it for granted that so many clients want to meet over a coffee.  In the five days of Live Below the Line I was invited to four coffee meetings.  And a breakfast.  In previous years I’ve met people in cafés and just drank water but sometimes it makes them feel awkward so this year I moved the meetings to another week – or told them what I was doing and we made it an office catch up.  Now I’m back and my barista is loving me again. 

Catching up with friends over dinner is a huge part of my life too.  We love going to our favourite restaurants, enjoying a wine or seven, and swapping stories on what’s happening in our lives.  My gorgeous friend Dani was a trooper, hanging out with me one night when we went to a movie preview, turning down the complimentary wine, popcorn and choc tops to drink water with me.  My stomach grumbled a little, and I went home straight after the movie to ‘enjoy’ a bowl of bland pasta, but she never once complained.  Our catch ups usually involve cool new restaurants or piles of funky gourmet pizza.  I’m sure we’ll get back there soon. 

The one thing that wasn’t a surprise – but continues to humble me – was the generosity of my friends, family and workmates.  So many of them donated to my fundraising page – some quite large donations, along with a whole lot of people who are suffering tough times but still dug deep to help me with my fundraising goals.  I was hoping to raise $1,200 but, with the generosity of so many people, hit $2,542.08.  My first year of Live Below the Line saw me raise $400.  A stack of amazing people in my life donated to the cause – and also sent me beautiful words of love and support.  I have some fantastic people in my life.  But I already knew that. 

The thing I didn’t know was that you can lose 3kgs by stuffing your face with white home brand wheat filled pasta and bread three times a day.  So carbs are actually good for you?  I knew it. 


The restaurant owner whisperer

I’ve discovered that I have a gift.  I’m not sure how long I’ve been blessed with this ability – maybe my whole life – but lately, I’ve come into my own.

I’m a Restaurant Owner Whisperer. 

It started on a night out with Soccer God a few weeks ago.  We’ve been hanging out a lot lately and I love it.  We either go bar hopping or find one place to sit and chat all night.  This was the recent plan and although I was a little flat (let’s call it my B- Game), I was looking forward to washing away a day of stress with great food, wine and his company.

I’d been to this restaurant twice before and it was fast becoming a favourite.  It has a great ambience but is quiet enough for you to have a proper conversation.  The staff are friendly and attentive.  They have beautiful wine glasses.   As I sat down, the owner J asked how my day had been.  “Pretty shit actually”, I laughed and he immediately placed a glass of champagne in front of me.   “That might help a little”, he said.  I like this guy.    

Soccer God arrived and we ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir and food.  He mocked me as I confessed I had chosen exactly the same entrées and mains as I’d had twice before.  He was soon thanking me, however, confirming that their spicy barramundi is to die for.  Trust me, I know what I’m doing. 

As we caught up on each others news (work, dating, life) the bottle of Pinot ran dry.  It was light and fruity so we ordered another.  Time ticked by as we compared notes on the pain of first dates. He read out text messages from a girl he’d been out with.  I recalled horror stories from EHam. Before we knew it the second bottle was finished. “This wine is amazing!” declared Soccer God, ordering a third.  By this time the stress and pain of my day had well and truly faded away.  I’d found my A Game. 

The staff started to pack up around us, however they let us continue chatting, bringing us chocolate truffle balls after I asked for something sweet.  J the owner checked if we’d had a good night and we invited him to sit with us and drink … alas, our wine bottle was again empty.  How did this keep happening?

Don’t worry, I’ll get you a new one”, J said and disappeared behind the bar. “Let me buy you a drink” and he filled our glasses with more delicious red wine.

We sat and talked for another hour or so, learning more about J and his philosophy on love, cooking and running a business.  At 1am, with our fourth empty bottle on the table, I proclaimed my tiredness and need to go home, breaking up the party.  J hugged us goodnight and demanded that we come back again for a special dinner.  He’s a great guy and I love his place (and free wine) – that’s a yes from me.

Earlier this week I met up with my sister and her bestie The Shoe Lover.  I took them to a place I’d been twice before with Dingo (the hot guy everyone thinks I’m dating), in the city.  I like this place because it’s tucked away, has outstanding views but is filled with locals who appreciate great food and wine.

We ordered charcuterie plates (for them) and pea croquets (for me) and drinks including blood orange martinis.  Bright orange and super sweet, I decided to stick to my usual Pinot Noir.  I am but a simple woman.  

Placing our mains on the table, I recognized R and asked if he was the owner.  “Ah, I thought I knew you” he said, kissing me on both cheeks with European gusto.  We chatted about the cocktails, his wine selection and recent awards he’d won.  Although we protested due to full bellies, he offered dessert for us to try …. Well okay then. 

The thick slab of chocolate cake covered in mandarin and parfait was amazing.  Then I tried his version of a lemon meringue tart, deconstructed and melted into a long glass.  OMG.  The three of us fought with spoons to get the last bit of gooey lemon and biscuit out ….  I think I won. 

My sister paid the bill and as we said goodbye to R, he suggested we go out on a Sunday afternoon – with Dingo in tow – to a friend’s cocktail bar.  I’d love to I said, re-enacting our Euro double kiss before saying goodbye.  My sister told me afterwards he didn’t charge us for dessert or her second cocktail.  What a great guy.

Don’t be jealous of my gift.  I’ve worked hard at it since the days of PDH at Provenance and finally it’s paying off.  If you’d like to see me in action, perhaps we can go out to dinner and I can teach you a few of my tricks.  Unless of course I’m out with R or J.  


Get Dr Pinot on the phone 

I’ve been sick for weeks.  It’s really annoying.  Nothing too serious, just a headcold that won’t go away.  I’m not sick enough to take more than a day off from work – but just sick enough to feel like crap. Constantly.  I’m not alone as several people have also been whining about the fact they’ve been ill this Winter.   I feel your pain, co-whinger.

Last weekend, in an effort to finally shake this bug I cancelled everything I had planned to do.  I didn’t go to my charity board meeting as my head was pounding and I partially lost my voice.  I managed to get to salt therapy but avoided leaving the house on Saturday.   That night was spent on the couch drinking herbal tea, green juices and consuming healthy salads.  Kale is my friend.

The next day I stayed in bed and slept until 10.30am, forfeiting the opportunity to take part in Run Melbourne’s 5km run.   I shopped and bought a stack of fresh vegetables and made super food salads and a plethora of healthy meals.  I went to bed early, crossing my fingers that I’d punched my headcold in the face.

Monday morning rolled around and I felt just as crap as ever.  I was so tired I could barely drag myself out of bed. This is bullshit I said to myself as I popped a Codral and took my quinoa based salad off to work.  I sacrificed my whole weekend just so I could get better and feel like shit in an office.  Life is not fair people.

I struggled through the week as best as I could.  Rain and cold days didn’t do much to help my spirits but I tried hard to be positive.  No drinking.  Early nights.  No events.  Salt Therapy.  Lots of healthy salads and vegetables.  Herbal tea and green juices.  I did everything I could to feel better.   None of it seemed to help.

I needed a new strategy.

On Saturday I met with the awesome twosome chicks for brunch.  We sat outside in the cold and I ate my way through corn fritters, eggs and soy lattes.  We laughed and told stories about the shit things that had been happening in our lives.  It was perfect therapy.

That afternoon I rugged up and walked 3kms to the MCG, meeting GFM and his family for a day of footy.  Five glasses (plastic cups) of red wine, water and seeing my Pies win did wonders for my spirits.  I barely felt the cold with three layers of clothing, thermals, a beanie, gloves and a coat.  The 40 minute walk back to our hood was peppered with laughter and funny stories.  I was wrapped in my red wine blanket.  I didn’t feel a thing. 

GFM and I fell back into our local pub habits easily.  Order a bottle of red.  Curl up in a booth near the open fire.  Indulge in burgers, hot chips and way too many sides.  Talk about how cool the hipsters are.  Order another bottle of red.  Remind each other how we’re not hipsters, but still cool.  Drink red. Talk about how much we love and miss each other.  Confess to being drunk and tired.  Walk home. Pass out. 

When I woke up the next day – post five glasses and a whole bottle of red – I felt great.  My headcold was a distant memory.  I didn’t feel tired.  I felt energized.  A little dehydrated but pretty much okay.

I did personal training in the sun.  APT told me he was impressed that I had my boxing strength back.  I felt good.  Like the way I am meant to feel.  Happy.  Content.  Positive about life.

Got a cold?  Feeling shit?  Put away your kale salads and green juice. They’re of no use to you. Grab a bottle of Pinot Noir and drink away your illness. In fact, even if you’re not sick, start drinking anyway.  Why jinx getting sick this Winter?  Cheers.


It's only money, right?  

I’ve had a bad week with money.  I feel like a human ATM, handing out cash all over the place.  Money for stuff that is important, but really, I’d rather be spending on fun stuff.

It started two weeks ago with my side mirror.  Read my previous blog about my inability to adult (and drive) to find out what happened.  A total sum of $600 to get that little piece of my car fixed.  Apparently paint matching for fancy electric mirrors is quite expensive.  Who knew?

A trip to the dentist on Tuesday saw me having two small fillings (the result of a little bit of over brushing and gum wearing) and a root canal on my credit card.  I go to the dentist every six months so not sure how I ended up agreeing to x-rays (my last were apparently two years ago) and a full clean.  I also paid a small fortune for the anaesthetic but really who wants to spend an hour in a dental chair undrugged?  Not me.  Luckily I love my Dentist so I didn’t stab him when he handed me a bill for $724.   I’m now grinning madly at strangers with my perfect teeth to get my money’s worth.

Wednesday rolled around and I dropped off my car for a service.  It was a little overdue but it seemed to be running okay.   What would I know?  The lovely Service Consultant Nicole informed me that I had a leaking water pump and a loose oil seal (or something like that).  If I had all the work done in one go I could save HOURS under warranty which would mean a much lower bill.  You’re very sweet Nicole but I wonder how much worse it would have been than the $1,486 bill you gave me.  You know I drive a Ford Fiesta and not a Porsche right?

I must say, Jett (my car) does run better than ever.   That’s what I tell myself so I don’t feel so ripped off.

Since the Service Team had to keep my car for so long, they were nice enough to let me take a loan car.  I love Jett but it was quite a novelty to drive a family wagon.  They gave me a Ford Kuga – a mid size 4WD designed for kids and suburbs not rolling mountain getaways.  The coolest part was that the engine would turn itself off every time you were stationary.  As a greenie, that gave me a little thrill.  Sad, huh?

After a long day in the office I pulled into our gated carpark as I do every night.  One of the new tenants drives a long white van with a massive bull bar on the front.  Carefully I pulled in, checking that I wouldn’t hit the bull bar. 

Unfortunately I wasn’t paying attention to the other side of the car and scraped the whole side of the Kuga along the gate.  It was one of those awesome moments when you hit something and are not sure whether to reverse or just push ahead.  I closed my eyes and moved forward as an orchestra of paint and metal scraped together, syncing with the sounds of me swearing “Fck, Fck, Fck” like Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Thankfully lovely Nicole at the Service Centre had highlighted the $1,500 excess I’d be required to pay for any damage to the loan car.  I remember her circling it three times for effect as I thought “well I won’t need to worry about that, will I?”  Again, I was wrong.

Ah, life is funny isn’t it?  How it just loves to throw you a bunch of shit all at the same time? 

I survived that horror fortnight and now have my Ford Fiesta back, running perfectly and looking all clean and shiny with it’s new mirror.  Lovely Nicole is processing my insurance paperwork and my teeth are looking better than ever.

On the bright side, I’ll be getting a stack of Qantas Frequent Flyer points from all the credit card transactions I’ve made lately.   God knows I need a holiday.  Think I’ll fly somewhere – not sure a road trip where I have to drive is a good idea right now.