The Drop-By-Dash

October 9, 2006 at 11:28 am (Uncategorized)

Ah, the drop-by-dash. This is a core Sydney strategy for socialising. It is now so popular it boasts numbers that aren’t seen at any time other than Election Day, when it’s compulsory to take part.

The drop-by-dash is, simply put, a sure-fire way to annoy everyone and please no one. It could be called ‘How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.’ You totally over-commit yourself across every hard-won weekend minute, and then, like a champion athlete in professional competition, you spend those precious hours zooming at warp speed around the monster circuit that is Sydney.

Every transit point becomes a potential opportunity to squeeze another person in, and because you haven’t seen even your best friend in months, this starts to seem like a mighty fine idea, the best you’ve ever had. “I’m coming through town on my way to dinner in Bondi on Thursday. How about we catch up for a quick drink on my way through?” It sounds so innocent, so simple. But it never is. It’s always verging on pathetic, like the mean servings that pass for a cheese “platter” in most eateries these days. Imagine you’re the wheel of cheese. What you’re basically offering your friend is a tiny sliver of you, with the added insult of rind on three sides. It’s so MEASLY, so inadequate, so borderline offensive it almost demands to be sent back. Except everyone’s doing it, it would be the same miniscule offering anywhere else, so the friend takes the offer of a drink in good faith and tells themselves it’s a good thing you can only stay for one because they’re trying to be good this week anyway. Just like the rorted diner says “I don’t need more cheese. I’m on the no fun diet. This is the perfect amount, thanks.”

Well, I hate the drop-by-dash, even though I am one of the worst offenders. I do it all the time, and I am developing a serious loathing for my own cramming, ramming, and running tendencies. Slow the hell down, I tell myself. Don’t think that having 20 minutes spare before you’re due somewhere means you should phone a friend. Transit is not the same thing as time. It’s actually used time, because it’s always in the middle of a journey that is already underway. So when I met a friend for a drink on Thursday, as I went through town from Manly to Surry Hills, what I was offering her was in fact the equivalent of a line change on a train trip. Come stand on the platform with me, Bron. Won’t that be fun?

Bron and I had our drink – we squeezed in two – and we told ourselves it was better than nothing, and at least we’d seen each other, and we’d do better next time and meet for longer. And we meant it. But because I went from the drop-by-dash with Bron on Thursday to a lovely long leisurely meal at Vini with Sarah and Sheena, I can’t help feeling – knowing – Bron was pretty short-changed in the catch-up department. I was like a McDonald’s Meal Deal thrown out the window of the drive-thru, without the super-sizing.

It’s the comparison that gets me. Dinner at Vini brought it all into sharp relief. The drop-by-dash must stop. But like the repeat offender I am, I did it again on Saturday. Llew and I dropped by a party, and then we dashed to another commitment. We couldn’t help but think ahead of time that we could pull it off, we could do it all. Well, it turns out we can’t, and we shouldn’t try, because we end up half-arsed and harried for everyone, and fully present and engaged for no one.


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