At every school athletics carnival, no one’s prepared for the hurdles event.
There’s a particular type of person who ends up running it, of course. It’s the poor kid who didn’t put his hand up for anything else. He probably has glasses, and white Asics sneakers his parents bought him when he tried tennis lessons that one time.
He takes his place on the line. The starter’s gun goes off. And he begins to run.
This is where our paths meet, the amateur hurdler and I.
Because my week at Byron Bay Schoolies, riddled with low quality tequila and poorly-made decisions, looked a lot like this…
As far as my personality goes, I’m an introvert. A deep-seated, anxiety ridden introvert.
I tackle social events in 30 minute segments, interspersed with lengthy periods spent alone in the bathroom, planning my escape from said event and ordering UberEATS for when I arrive home.
My apprehension going into Schoolies was high. Seven days of intensive, human interaction with the maniacal bunch of extroverts I’m foolish enough to call my companions. Eating together. Sleeping together. Doing that thing where you drink, divulge dark secrets, and then it’s awkward the next day together.
An introvert’s worst nightmare.
And so it began.
10.40 – Arrive rental house. Six boys. Spirits high.
10.41 – Three bedrooms. One bathroom. Four boys who have girlfriends take the two double bedrooms. Noble. Relegates other single bloke and myself to ‘Bachelor den’, named as such because of the side-by-side single beds which are the perfect size for anyone with no legs.
11.23 – Gather in kitchen. Floor tiles perpetually damp. Regret picking house described as ‘beachy’.
13.45 – Woolies. Plan meals for week. Find industrial-sized wheel of cheese. Also, prawns. Walk along street wheeling trolley back to house. Someone farts. Tiring of human interaction.
15.53 – Liquor store. Vodka, tequila, white rum, CRUISERS, goon, beer, tequila. Goon. Cruisers. $804.53. Alcohol purchased for week.
16.12 – Return home. Floor still sticky.
You know when you spill oil on a hard floor and wipe it up but instead of being clean it stays a little bit gross forever? That. Except everywhere. All the time.
19.05 – Dinner. Discuss fact we’re loose cannons who love to party and pash chicks and no sentiment has ever resonated with me less. Consume many prawns to hide fact I am odd one out.
19.14 – Tequila shots at dinner table.
Talking easier. Staying awake harder.
20.44 – Move from house to outdoor dance floor near beach. Lose friends, but find kebab. Walk home. Fall asleep.
7.45 – Wake up. Listen to podcast alone for hour before anyone else wakes up and Jesus Christ this is the best part of Schoolies so far.
9.00 – Burpees to sweat out alcohol from night previous. Housemates wake up. Discuss night before.
‘Luca what happened we couldn’t find you after like 9.15.’
‘Duuuude I was SMASHED I can’t really even remember hey. Memories are all pretty blurry after we left the house.’
10.17 - Walk to beach. Weather sh*t. Walk home.
14.25 - Friends staying two houses down invite us for backyard cricket. Housemates go. I stay home and eat toast while scrolling through Instagram on my mattress that wouldn't look out of place in an infant's cot.
19.34 - Cook dinner. Salad, sausages. Eat together. Like family. Brethren. Just six friends, hoeing down some sausages and bantering about who had the most standard drinks last night. Someone says 23 which seems insane until I'm shown photos of young man asleep in a garden wearing speedos wrapped in an Australian flag.
19.50 - Tequila shots. Excited about evening ahead. Someone plays electro music on speaker.
21.58 - Still awake, (better than last night). Dance at Red Frogs outdoor dance floor. Many alcohols.
Spot P, a girl who I've been friends with since I was 13, near beach.
Narrator: It's at this point, that our protagonist proceeds to make a series of terrible decisions.
Chat with P. Some drunken mumblespeak about who knows what.
Walk down to beach with P.
Make out with P. Hard. In the face.
22.50 - Awkward hug. Leave P.
23.11 - Call best (male) friend. Confide in him about wrongdoings. Consolatory kebab. Amble home. Sleep
8.22 - Arise. Sweaty. Jar of dried supermarket chives on bedside table. Unsure why.
9.50 - Sit with housemates. Debrief on night before.
Am reminded I lost bet, and must keep Chives by my side for remainder of Schoolies (he is called Chives because he is a jar of chives).
12.31 - 35 degrees. Meet up with P and friends. Swim in ocean. With Chives. Pretend neither P nor I can remember night before. Enjoy dunking my head underwater, because it means I don't have to speak to anyone. Awkward goodbye hug.
14.40 - Learn my Grandpa is in Byron Bay tonight (by coincidence, not at Schoolies), staying at a house two beaches over.
15.38 - Return home. Overwhelming smell of rotting fish. Sitting in living room akin to bathing in warm smoked salmon milkshake. Rotting prawn shells from first night.
19.23 - Abandon grimey-floored prawn pit. Not coping with social interaction (or hot prawn shells outside bedroom window). Visit Grandpa. Enjoy quiet dinner of Chinese food; minimal speaking; use of clean toilet.
Realise I'm spending a night of the the most wild week in any teen's life eating takeaway Sang Choy-bow with my 70-year-old grandfather.
20.40 - Return to Prawn Shack. Drink tequila. Make friends with loud girl group next door.
The names of my friends have been abbreviated in the following recount for purposes which will soon become apparent.
20.48 - My friend, I, suggests we do the 'Goon Centurion': one 'shot' of goon each minute for 100 minutes.
Various nods of agreement follow
20.53 - A bolts to bathroom, runs into metal screen door, projectile vomits on it.
B disappears with a girl who is most definitely not his girlfriend. Returns looking suspicious after four hours.
G eats a white pill, power walks 12 kilometres to outskirts of Byron Bay and back.
21.14 - Tequiler. por sgrub yop we6rg
The remainder of this night cannot be retrieved.
It is known, however, that at some point I circulated the following image to my entire contacts list.
8.14 - Last full day. Wake up first. Floor wet. M passed out nude on day bed. Bask in silence.
10.20 - Recovery breakfast. Companions arise. Prawns particularly pungent.
13.16 - Round of beers over lunch. Long run up for final night. Sick of speaking.
17.42 - Dinner. Steaks, bread, salad. Tequila shots. Times eight. Feeling good. Walk to beach en masse. Music loud. Find pretty girl. Congratulate self for making new friend.
20.10 - Take particular liking to new friend. Explain why am carrying jar of chives. Kiss friend in playground next to dance floor. Decide we'd like to find somewhere a little more quiet. Descend rocky embankment to sandy beach. Hop through hordes of face-mashing couples blissfully unaware of how fast the tide is coming in. Find secluded spot up on the soft sand.
20.31 - Begin sex.
20.33 - Conclude sex.
20.58 - Celebratory kebab.
21.14 - Second celebratory kebab.
22.00 - Dance.
23.12 - Stumble home. Collectively attempt to finish leftover food in house as not to waste any.
M eats bag of raw spinach.
J does 'shots' of extra virgin olive oil.
A cooks Nutella pancakes.
I find a muscly Lebanese man passed out in my bed.
Listen: Mia Freedman speaks with Andy Gourley, founder of Red Frogs, about what he does to look after kids during Schoolies. Post continues after audio.
5.23 - Woken by car horn. Go to check time. Can't find phone. Search bedroom.
5.31 - Search kitchen. Nothing. Separation anxiety.
5.45 - Sprint into town. Nothing. Dance floor from last night. Nothing. Sun rising. Return to where I was with lady friend on beach. Nothing.
5.51 - Police station. Lodge missing item report.
7.12 - Return home. Everyone asleep. Dejected. Sit on grass with Chives.
9.40 - Companions arise. None know of phone's whereabouts. Return to Police station. Ask for updates. Nothing.
11.23 - Shower. See pants from last night hung over bathroom door. Search pocket. Find phone. Dance nude in shower with excitement. Feel shame for attending Police station.
1.15 - Final clean. No alcohol leftover. Depart house.
Avoid all conversation on flight home.