The 80s Party
It was a Saturday. Mel and Sandy were going for their weekly brisk walk along the esplanade. It was really their gossip session disguised as an exercise regime. They had been friends since high school, products of the 60s, punks in the 70s and rebellious uni students in the 80s. They had shared fads, records, boyfriends, smokes, outfits, slogans and cheat sheets.
Mel was once again a uni student. She had been a solicitor but disillusioned in her 40s she decided to become a permanent student. She was married to a property lawyer who travelled the world for a multinational mining company. Sandy was divorced with two teenagers. Originally qualified as an accountant she now worked part-time as a bookkeeper. She was single and lonely and had given up on finding a new companion.
“I went to a 80s party last Saturday night and I actually went back to the 80s” announced Mel.
“You didn’t tell me you were going to a party. How was it?”
“You didn’t listen to what I just said did you? I actually went back to 1984. I time travelled and got my teenage body back. I pogoed all night long.”
“Did someone spike your drink? I’ve told you before you need to be careful these days. That poor women on the boat cruise, what was her name, Dianne Brimble. You have to be careful. ”
“I wasn’t drugged but I sure was on a natural high. I need to tell you a secret and you have to promise not to tell a soul. Cross your heart.”
“Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, pinkie hug” And they entwined their little fingers in a hug. “Now spill the beans.” said Sandy.
“Speaking of beans let’s get a coffee first from that barista’s van. I like his coffee.”
“Oh please. It’s not the coffee you like it’s the flirty 20 year old serving it. Don’t you think he puts a heart on every middle aged women’s coffee? He’s a cad.”
“Humour me. He should put a snake on yours.”
“Well it does taste like poison.”
“Hilarious, not!” said Mel sarcastically.
They purchased their frothy coffees with a dash of frothy flirtation on the side and went to sit at a shaded picnic table.
“So what’s all this about?“
The science students are working on a time travel project. It’s all very hush, hush. Anyway, the students are holding theme parties to pay off their uni fees. It’s all unofficial of course.”
“We’re talking simulation games right?”
“No. It’s real. The University has built this installation in Building 12. It’s an enormous time machine. Everybody thinks the hall is just being renovated.”
“Please explain.” said Sandy in her Pauline Hansen voice. “You’ve lost me already.”
“Ok. Ten days ago this science student came up to me in the refectory. He asked me what I missed about being in my 20s. I told him and he said what if I could make you 20 again for just one night. Then he told me about the time machine and the theme parties.”
“So what exactly happened last Saturday night?”
“This guy, Jimmy, sent me a text asking me to come to the uni for a party. When I got there I had a medical then they told me to go into a change room. Some lights flashed, then my body tingled and suddenly I’ve got my beautiful young body back. Then I went into this big hall and partied ‘til the wee hours of the morning. It was awesome.”
“Did it cost you anything?”
“$2000! Are you out of your mind? What are you going to tell penny pinching Barry?”
“I’ll just tell him I’ve renewed my gym membership and joined Jenny Craig. One of my tutors eats the stuff. I’ve already scavenge some of the packaging from the bin. He’ll never know.”
“Are you going to go again?”
“Yep. I’m going to pawn some of my rings and sell some dresses on EBay. I want you to come with me next time. It’s on again next month.”
“I can’t afford $2000.”
“Have you still got your wedding and engagement rings? You could pawn them. You’re never going to wear them again and its bad luck to pass them onto your kids.”
“It wasn’t bad luck for Prince William!”
“Hmm, we’ll see. What a scrooge he is.”
“So why are our tax dollars being wasted on party tricks?”
“They plan to build installations all over the world. If the end of the world is nigh – nuclear war, alien invasion or we kill mother earth, they can evacuate all the important people and send them back in time to fix everything. They’ll have young bodies to do all the work but still the knowledge and experience of an older person.”
“Why don’t they just try to fix the world as it is?”
“We’re all too materialistic. Anyway going back in time was awesome and that $2000, I just think of it as helping some uni students pay their fees .Education should be free. Please come. It would be so much more fun with you there.”
“Were there any side effects?”
“Just a hangover and I felt a little down for two days but that’s it.”
A Month Later
Sandy and Mel met at the Regatta Hotel for a few drinks while they waited for the text message to say the party was a goer.
“Have you got your outfit and the money?”
“Hold on tight to your handbag. We don’t want some low life thief ruining the night for us. I’m so excited. Are you nervous?”
“Very. I’m so bloody nervous I could take up smoking again.”
“Nothing’s going to go wrong. Look at me I’m fine. Just try to relax when you go into the change room”, A message came through on Mel’s phone.
“It’s a goer. Let’s go. Just remember when we get there fill out the forms as quickly as you can so we’ll be one of the first to have a medical. There’s a taxi. TAXI! ” Mel screamed as she hailed down a taxi consumed by excitement.
“All the formalities done ladies?”
“Ok just queue up over there and your chaperone will be with you shortly.”
“Where are all the men?” asked Sandy.
“They go through another entrance on the other side of the hall.”
“Hello, my name is Michael. I’m you chaperone for tonight. I will be monitoring your heart rate and vitals. If you feel any discomfort, heart palpitations, dizziness or any other irregularities please return to the tunnel so we can assist you from there. When you walk through the tunnel there are five change rooms. Pick one. Undress. Put the monitor on your chest like so and when you’re ready press the button. There will be a flash of light and hey presto you’re back to your young selves. Get dressed into the clothes you’ve brought with you. Then proceed to the doorway at the far end of the tunnel. Have a fun night ladies!”
“Thank you.” They said in unison.
“Are you ready?
“As ready as I’ll ever be. Why did I let you talk me into this?”
“You’ll thank me later. Ok in we go.”
“Are you undressed Sandy?”
“Ok on the count of three press the button. 1,2,3.” Lights flashed. Sandy felt a pressing feeling on her stomach. Skin seemed to tighten up everywhere.
“Are you ok Sandy?”
“I can’t see. Everything is blurry. “
“Have you still got your glasses on? Take them off.”
“My God! My eye sight is perfect. All my stretch marks have gone.”
“Hurry up. Get dressed. It’s time to party.”
Sandy moved slowly out of the change room looking dazed.
“Wow, you look gorgeous Sandy.”
“Is that the dress you wore to my 21st?”
“Yeah, I’ve never been able to part with it, too many great memories. Come on, time to walk through that door and party!” squealed Mel.
Sandy and Mel walked out of the tunnel and into an enormous hall.
“Oh my God, it’s Midnight Oil”
“I told you it would be a rad party.”
“How the hell did they get them to play?”
“Who doesn’t want to be young again?” Mel started singing loudly as she twirled around. “US forces give the nod.…” It wasn’t long before Sandy joined in too. “Bombs and trenches all in rows….”
“Hey, there’s Matt. I have to introduce you. He’s just your type. He’s a drummer in a punk band.”
“Hey Mel. How are you?”
“I’d like you to meet my friend Sandy. The one I told you about.”
“Please to meet you Sandy. Ready for a great night?”
“The party of a lifetime I hope.”
“That’s the spirit.” Matt had spiky blonde hair, a bronzed toned body and sparkling blue eyes.
Another man came over, a little chubby guy with curly brown hair.
“You ladies look beautiful. I love your dress” he said to Mel. “Very illuminating.” His eye kept blinking rapidly.
“Thanks” Mel giggled nervously.
“I love the pattern on your shirt Matt. Have a great time guys.” He walked off moving his head all around taking everything in.
“What’s that guy’s deal?” Sandy asked Matt.
“That’s Paul. He’s blind in his 40s, macular degeneration disease. “
“Oh my God, did you hear that Mel? That guy‘s blind in his 40s.”
“Holy shit” said Mel.
“And that guy over there jumping around everywhere. He had a motorbike accident when he was 30 – paralysed from the waist down.”
When the band got to their fourth song the drummer started to lose the beat.
“Something’s wrong with Rob Hirst”said Sandy. “He looks dizzy or something.”
When the song finished the other members of the band gathered around the drummer. Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey carried Rob into the tunnel.
“I’m sorry folks.” said Peter Garrett. “Rob’s not feeling well .We’re going to have to cancel the show.”
“I can play the drums.” shouted Matt.
“Do you know our music man?” asked Peter Garrett.
“Of course I do. I grew up on the stuff.”
“What’s your name?”
“Give it up for Matt Duncan.” The crowd cheered. Jim and Martin returned to the stage. “Rob will be fine” Jim reassured the crowd.
They picked up their guitars and started to play. Matt was awesome. He didn’t miss a beat. Sandy couldn’t keep her eyes off him. They partied until 4am. Then the party had to stop before the security guards came on duty. Everyone went back through the tunnel and their 40 something selves came out the other side, all looking exhausted but beaming with smiles.
Two Days Later
Sandy had gone into a severe depression following the party. “It’s me Mel.” she said crying down the phone. “I want to be 20 again. What happened to all our dreams? We sold out. Remember how we used to dream about changing the world?”
“We didn’t sell out Sandy. We just got caught up in our day to day lives. Remember that they warning us that we might feel down afterwards. You’ll feel better in a couple of days. Trust me. It will pass.”
“It’s more than that Mel. We had so many dreams.”
“I know Sandy. You were such a great artist. You should take it up again you know. It’s not too late to live your dream.”
“I don’t know if I could do it again Mel. I can hardly find inspiration to cook a decent meal let alone paint something spectacular. Do you remember all those rallies we used to go to? I hardly even watch the news anymore.”
“We should go to the next party. It will give you something to look forward to. What do you think?”
“How are we going to come up with the money for it?“
“I don’t know. I’ve been looking all around the house for things to flog off. I’m going to have to get a job. I might lay off the cleaner. What about the savings account you have for your kids? Maybe you could borrow from it and pay it back later. They don’t need it now. Hopefully Matt will be there again. You don’t want to miss that opportunity.”
“I’ll think about it.” said Sandy still sobbing. “I’ve got to go now.”
“Ok. Look after yourself. I’ll see you Saturday morning right?”
“Yeah. I’ll see you then.”
Sandy sat on the floor and sobbed for another hour.
“Hey Matt. How are you? I missed saying goodbye to you at the last party. You’re a bloody good drummer. What happened with you and the Oils afterwards?” asked Sandy.
“Nothing. The old buggers just went back to their hotel for a nap before their flight back to Sydney. You look nice tonight.”
“So what’s the name of your band?”
“Life Support. We’re playing at the Beetle Bar next Saturday night. You should come.”
“I’d love to. Are you hoping to play tonight?”
“No. It’s the Church tonight. I’m not such a big fan. Want a drink?”
“What would you like?”
“An Orgasm.” said Sandy with a cheeky grin. Matt smirked.
“I’m not asking the barman for that.”
“Only stirring. Whatever you’re having.”
“Beer it is then.’
“So what do you do?” asked Matt when he returned with the beers.
“I’m an artist” said Sandy trying to impress.
“Really I love to dabble in that too but I’ve never been able to make enough money out of it to live on. You’ll have to show me some of your pieces sometime.”
“I’d love to.”
They chatted and danced all night. Sandy felt very at ease, like she’d known Matt for years. At the end of the night Matt gave Sandy a little peck on the cheek. Is that it, thought Sandy. Bugger this and she kissed him on the lips.
“So I’ll see you at the Beetle Bar next week then.”
“I wouldn’t miss it.”
“Oh there you are Sandy. It’s time to go. Bye Matt.” said Mel
“How’d you go?” asked Mel.
“Oh my God Mel I’m in love. Have you ever heard of the Beetle Bar?”
“I think it’s a bar in Roma Street .Why?”
“Matt is playing there next Saturday. I’m going to meet him there.”
“Wow. Don’t go off with the fairies too much. He might be bald and fat. You might get disappointed.”
“I don’t think so. He’s great.”
“Sandy. it’s Mel. I’m so sorry but I won’t be able to make it tonight. Barry came home this afternoon and we’ve been fighting ever since. He wants to know why the house is so messy. Then he started noticing things missing. I’ve made up all sorts of BS. Sorry but there’s no way I can come. Promise me you’ll still go.”
“Sandy, you haven’t been able to stop talking about Matt. Promise me you’ll go otherwise I’ll feel guilty.”
“Ok I promise.”
“Cross your heart.”
“We’re not kids anymore Mel.”
“Ok I promise, cross my heart and hope to die. “
Sandy was very nervous about going into a bar on her own. She felt like a loser, single and middle aged. I can do this she said to herself as she approached the entrance to the small pub. People were sprawled out on the pavement smoking and music blared from inside. The Boondall Boys were playing. She scanned the room for Matt but couldn’t see him anywhere. The audience was a mixed bunch – punks, head bangers, emos and dudes with long beards that looked Jewish. Mel and I would have loved this place when we were younger she thought.
Matt’s band was next up. He didn’t see her as he rushed up onto the stage to start the next set. Sandy was mesmerised. He looked awesome. Grey spiked hair, his skin a bit more weather but he still looked dashing. Not balding and not fat. She tried to catch his eye. “Matt”, she yelled, “Matt”. He finally spotted her and gave her the thumbs up. When their set had finished he rushed over to greet her.
“Hey Sandy” he said and kisses her. “You look hot tonight.”
“You don’t scrub up too badly yourself.” she responded.
“What did you think of the band?”
“Awesome. Do you write the songs?”
“Some but Mick writes most of them. We’re not exactly the Oils.”
“Who is? And who’d want to be. Garrett sold out.”
“I need a drink. I’ll be back in a minute.”
“I got you an orgasm and I’ll give you another one later.”
“Very smooth. Promises, promises, cheeky boy.”
They danced for a while.
“Hey I’m feeling pretty sweaty and disgusting in these clothes. I just live up the road. I wouldn’t mind going home to get changed. Do you want to come?”
Six Months Later
Sandy was bursting. She couldn’t contain her excitement after learning the good news. She rang Mel straight away.
“Hi Mel it’s Sandy. I’ve won the arts grant to paint the refugees’ story.”
“Oh my God, Sandy, that’s fantastic news. Congratulations!”
“Thanks. I was wondering if you could help me write a story to put with each painting. You’re so much better at writing than me.”
“Yes, of course. I would love too.”
“Awesome. How’s the work at the women’s shelter going?”
“The same-restraining orders, not enough beds, not enough funding. We’re having a fund raiser next month. I was wondering if Matt’s band could play. I need to attract as many people as possible. Our government funding is getting cut back.”
“Oh no. Yeah I’m sure his band would love to play. I’ll ask him when he gets home tonight and let you know.”
“Thanks. I don’t know if we’re changing the world Sandy but at least we’re trying.”
“I second that.” said Sandy.