After resigning from internet dating, I found myself at the launch of an Art Deco meets Modernists extravaganza, surrounded by creative folk, lots of feathers, and amazing vintage outfits. Mid conversation with some feathered ladies, Ms. Modernist gatecrashed, bubbles in hand, dragging three guys towards us, yelling, “Come on boys, time to meet some girls!” She proceeded to interrogate them as to whether they were married (no), having an affair with the girl they had walked in with (NO!), introduced a fascinating fact about each of us to get the conversation rolling, clicked her heels, and disappeared with a magically refilled glass of bubbles.
I was stunned. What an awesome wingwoman! The most handsome of the bunch was conveniently closest to me and I took advantage of Ms Modern’s opening. He was a Former Engineer (tick, as much as I love my Dad I can’t cope with dating engineers), passionate about architecture, buff, well presented, eyes you could lose yourself in, and very charming. Within a few minutes we somehow started talking about North Queensland, and discovered that we were of the same vintage, both born in Townsville. Mr. Former Engineer corrected himself. “I only say I’m born in Townsville because no one knows where Ingham is, but I’m from Ingham.” I started laughing. My dad grew up 25k from Ingham; my aunt, uncle and grandmother are still there in cane country. Purple Frock: “Do you know Peter and Jane Frock?” Mr Former Engineer shook his head. “I used to work with Brian Frock in Townsville though.” This was just too much. Brian was my uncle, and Mr. Former Engineer had worked with him for five years before escaping engineering for a new start in the Big Smoke. The coincidences kept on rolling – he had just come back from Ingham to celebrate his Nonni’s 90th birthday, I was leaving in two days to visit my Nonni for her 89th birthday.
The speeches started, and afterwards I was whisked away by the Mr and Ms Modernists for Part Two of the evening, a live Cambodian rock opera performance at the Brisbane Powerhouse (I kid you not). Mr. Former Engineer had other plans (more ticks, leaves the house on a school night, has friends, or possibly hates Cambodian Rock Opera), and we parted with promises to catch up. Meanwhile, the Modernists and I plotted. Mr. Former Engineer was a total catch. A scheme was hatched for a movie night at the Modernist House for us to casually on purpose meet again, with background checks being carried out in the meantime. I stalked him on Facebook, an email notified that he had also stalked me on LinkedIn, and I looked forward to seeing him again.
Shortly afterwards, the Modernists delivered some bad news. Mr. Former Engineer was gay, and had come to Brisbane to put some distance between himself and his conservative Italian Ingham clan. All of our gaydars had completely failed. A beer-drinking, football-loving gay engineer from North Queensland? Seriously! Looking back however, there were some clues. Ms Modernist had only asked if he was married or having an affair, not if he was gay. While gay engineers heading towards 40 simply do not exist (confirmed by Dad), he had left engineering. He would never have fit in. As for the rugby league – well, it’s hard to be alive in Townsville and not follow the Cowboys just a little bit. If I was honest with myself, his immaculate presentation and six pack were rare even in a metro type. I was reminded of Bob Katter’s infamous 1989 remark that there were “no homosexuals living in his electorate”, and that he would walk “backwards from Bourke to Brisbane” if any were found. This gay man was safely camouflaged in North Queensland, drinking beer at the footy, pretending he liked talking cars, dogs and sport with the other engineers, and carefully concealing any leads which might give away the game. But they exist.