Down an unlit side street in Newtown there is an unmarked door. Unmarked except for the graffiti.
Above the unmarked, gratified door, down the unlit side street, a red light hangs.
You might think at this point in the story you know what is behind the door.
If it was a brothel, someone would have to be doing something very special because people are lining up down the road to get in like it’s a nightclub.
Except it is barely 8pm and this unmarked door down the unlit side street doesn’t have thumping bass coming from behind it. And there’s just one doorman enforcing a 1-in, 1-out policy.
You’ve been told that this unmarked door is Mary’s.
You don’t know if that’s really the name, or if it is just called that by people since it has no real name, but it is on Mary St. Either way, rumour has it some of the best burgers in Sydney are behind this door. So you join the line.
After about 30 minutes of anticipation you are eventually admitted, and it’s only since you’ve been closer that you have been able to hear the rock tunes that remind you of your teens and 20s.
You push through double doors into a crowded bar.
Your next challenge awaits.
If you want food, you need a table. Either you need to join another line, that of people queueing for a table upstairs, or take your chances in the bar. The only hurdle is how to grab a table and also order food when you’re alone. Surely an unattended table is unoccupied?
Leaning with your back against the bar, you keep an eye on the room. Who has drinks. Who has lots of food. Who is clearly waiting for food. Who might be about to get up and who is also watching.
One table of people gets up to leave and before you can even think about staking your claim, they offer the crowded table next to them the opportunity to join the two together, giving them ample space for everyone seated. A fair gesture, even if it means you still can’t order.
Then a table becomes available. And you get it fast. Through skill and a little magic you manage to balance your half-drunk bottle of beer on top of your leather jacket, with both on the table. The statement is clear: this table is taken, observe the drink and the jacket of someone with no friends to dine with but the determination to not just go out, but to get a table.
You keep an eye on both, waiting at the bar, worrying that the jacket could be stolen (especially since it’s a replica of the one worn by Kurt Russell in Death Proof), beer drunk, table taken, and hopes of dinner dashed.
Maybe the people in Sydney are more polite, because both are left untouched.