If the past is a different country (they do things differently there) then the same thing could be said about couples, or “partnerships”, to use the unsentimental argot of 21st century Australia. Each pairing-off is a little nation-state of the heart. Some are oppressive dictatorships; others are Amsterdam. Each has its own customs, dialects, shibboleths, (emotional) currencies, defensible borders, subjects when offspring are involved (who then grow up to fight their own wars of independence), and of course, creation myths. These creation myths – or “how we met” stories – are also as important for couples just as they are for nations. They define the past and point to the future: Say what you will about the United States with its drone warfare, TSA goons, and eavesdropping federales, in the heart of every American beats the phrase, “land of the free and home of the brave.”
Likewise the sovereign nation of Prickistan.
For while day to day existence may consist of jobs and mortgage payments and shepherding the Little Pricks hither and yon, Mr and Mrs Prick have their own creation story, one which we mark not annually like most couples, but quadrennially, a happy occasion just past. The ritual goes something like this: Every four years on American election day – it’s a Wednesday here – I spend the afternoon doing a guest spot on the local Sky News, complain bitterly but eloquently that the wrong guy won, and then head down to the rooftop Blu Bar at the Shangri-La Hotel where four years ago I first met Mrs Prick.
We must be the only couple in Christendom whose anniversary is set not by a date but Article II of the US Constitution.
That first meeting created as many catch phrases as the American Revolution: “Mention my name, you’ll get a good seat!” is our “No taxation without representation!”. And instead of throwing tea into a harbour, four years ago we had the barkeep throw so much mint into so many mojitos so many times that we drank the joint out of the stuff. Or so the waiter told us, as he looked at his watch.
“Well, OK, how ‘bout a coupla mint juleps!?” we said in unison, leading to much eye-rolling and the quickest bringing of the bill in the history of the Australian service industry.
Being four years older and marginally wiser, this time around after a ceremonial kick-off and a not-inordinate number of mojitos at the Shangri-La, it was off to our second date place: Busshari.
In a town where most of the sushi is of the conveyor belt variety, mass produced in factory units in Tempe and then trucked around the city, Busshari is a welcome outpost. It’s been around for about five years, and never have I seen it not doing good trade. As always, we sat at the bar, teeing off with some edamame (salty!) and gyoza (just right, fried only on one side) while perusing the menu.
After a few mojitos the sake list read hilariously, especially considering Busshari’s proximity to Oxford Street: Fancy a bit of Bishonen’s “Beautiful Boy”? Might be just the thing after some Koshinokagiroi Senju “Morning Glory”. Sato No Homare’s “Pride of the Village” might have you singing “YMCA”. Or, if so inclined, order up some “Otter Festival” (a special on the night). We did scratch our heads at Senchu Hassaku’s “8 tactics to Drink on the Boat”: Oh, who am I kidding? The boathouse was the time! (Ultimately, we settled on a chilled jug of old favourite Otokoyama, or “Man’s Mountain”. Ahem.)
In any case, it was on to mains: First, a platter of sushi (and as an aside, the pottery and crockery here is gorgeous). Delicious stuff, perfect one-bite nigiri, utterly fresh, and with a bit of sea urchin – the Prick’s favourite – thrown in for good measure. Then a special “tobanyaki” – essentially a little stone hot pot with a flame inside and its own cooking plate on top – of utterly buttery wagyu. (No photos for this review – it seemed a little tacky on date night and anyway the phone was out of batts – but this is pretty much what you get). Service was friendly and bustling, and a good time was had by all. However after all this it was late, it was Wednesday, and four years on we were older and wiser enough not to continue as we did the first time around. Which, if memory serves, involved kicking on to the Victoria Room and being told by some whippersnappers to “get a room”.