They say the golden rule of flatting is don’t screw the crew. There was no such chance after date #4. To be fair, there was no such chance before date #4 either. It took place at lunchtime on Sunday, and was a hungover date with my flatmate Edward at the pub down the road from our Aro Valley home. For Burger Wellington, Southern Cross Garden Bar and Restaurant have stumped up with a vegan burger served with a green salad. It under-promised and over-delivered. The opposite of Edward, really.
I had very low expectations of date #4. As far as my own performance goes, I didn’t start off well. I was ten minutes late, hungover, and in a last minute decision to actually wear make-up, and to not wear jandals in August even though the sun was out, I was still a little disheveled. And a vegan burger I thought? Difficult to pull off. High hopes I most certainly did not have. And lunch with my flatmate? What could he offer on a date that I didn’t get over toast each morning?
The funny thing is, despite the fact that dating one’s flatmate is a faux pas of epic proportions, I was pleasantly surprised. Edward turned on the charm and enticed me into some interesting debates about the usual suspects - gender equality, the legal profession, travel and marriage. That, and the burger was delicious.
Chivalry, according to Edward, is not only not dead, but is in fact, alive and kicking. “Chivalry is like a good dinner jacket: it never goes out of fashion” he quipped. Just because it’s easy to not be chivalrous, and just send a text instead of calling, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. It’s all about effort. Effort and momentum. He was told by a very wise female-friend recently that making the most of momentum in the early stages of relationships is critical. When asked about the rules of dating though I was met with a line from John Travolta as Danny in Grease: “the rules are there aren’t no rules”.
We had an adorable waitress with a cute accent and ordered the classic Sunday combo of a beer (Emerson’s Organic Pilsner) and a coffee while we waited for our Vegan burgers. Edward had spent the morning with his mistress; the commercial law firm where he spends the majority of his waking, and other people’s sleeping, hours. I took some notes while we waited and he had a hand gesture ready for when things were “off the record”.
The two of us have co-habited for a little over a year. We actually met at Auckland Airport as 18 year olds when both setting off for a year in England. When I moved to Wellington a number of years later he re-entered my life with the enthusiasm of a hyperactive child, and we’ve been friends ever since. Throughout our friendship I have at times gotten into the habit of hooking up with his friends. When one such liaison ended recently he responded with a text message outlining how he would forthwith be the Goose to my Maverick; a wingman if you will. It is one thing flatmates are good for, that is for sure. Sometimes if he’s lucky, I’ll put his washing in the dryer and on a good day he’ll make all of our evening cups of tea in the correct mugs. He and the other flatties both last year and this one, have been very supportive of my varying degrees of tiredness, mania, relationship status and frame of mind.
The burgers arrived just before he told the story about the girl he dated that he’d met at his school 3rd form dance. They were decent in size and bright in colour and I could have squealed with excitement at the side dish being salad rather than anything either potato or deep fried or both. And this was only at burger #4!
Southern Cross’ burger patty is made with mushrooms, nuts (including pecans), spices and breadcrumbs (with a gluten free option available). It’s nestled amongst homemade hummus, tomato relish and salad, and then with the deal-breaker on top: chargrilled eggplant and courgette. The specially made Cottage Lane bun does it’s job with a softly encompassing freshness: this burger is great.
When it comes to first dates, Edward traditionally believes the boy pays. After that though he is a campaigner for equality: “with female Prime Ministers and male housewives, surely we can split the bill”. It’s a free and equal world apparently. His first date ever was spent drinking sprite at McDonald’s with the aforementioned lucky lady from the school dance. The conversation was as bad as the food and was followed up a week later with the girl’s best friend informing him over the phone that she and him were no longer ‘going out’. I could relate, having been both that girl and that best friend at some point in high school myself.
And on keeping in touch with ex boyfriends, girlfriends and part-time lovers? The wise words of a mutual friend were bandied about: “cut them loose!” Initially that is. We maturely agreed there’s sometimes room for friendship later on but it is, like everything, circumstantially dependent. I embarrassingly laughed when I realised he was eating with his knife and fork, and I with my hands. It apparently wasn’t him though who claimed utensils the only thing that separate us from animals - that was our former flatmate. I checked he wasn’t offended and continued mowing through it. We demolished them and were very pleasantly satisfied.
And with that we sang the praises of the burger and he kicked me to the curb. People to see, etc. Ah well. On the record, it could have been worse, and in fact ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable seedy Sunday in the sun.
The Vital Stats -
4 out of 5. Surprisingly good work all round.
A very big thank you to the wonderful staff at Southern Cross who took the time to chat and dote on us for date #4