I Tried to Find a Man in Mangalore
Welcome to the small town with a hugely misleading name.
I am recently single. My teenage-self is proud of me, but my six-months-ago-self is confused: weren't you just in love? What happened? I don't know what happened, so I've dealt with the confusion in all the usual ways. For the first month I wasn't eating, I cried a lot, and I watched a lot of The OA. I also dyed my hair blue, as you can see in the above photo.
I was actually so heartbroken I took myself home to my parents, where I demanded the dentist finally pull out my wisdom teeth, as they had been giving me grief for years and it was the only socially acceptable way of indulging in my inner emo-sentiment of "I want to feel pain so I know I'm alive." The dentist pulled all four. I was awake the entire time. There was one moment when the dentist had to pause, mid-prise, and let the dental nurse wipe his brow. Then I went home and spent the week crying over my teeth (heart) and getting high on codeine. I also got my eyes tested and turns out I had been quite blind (with love) and now because of the glasses I can see (that I will never love again).
I got sent back to Melbourne thinner, with better vision, and a plan. There's an age-old saying that declares "to get over a man, you must get under one." I hate Tinder, though. And I usually pick up through friends-of-friends or at the pub, or at a party. But my social circle is small, and my ex plays in everyone's favourite Melbourne bands, so he's already at all the pubs. Instead I realised I'd have to go somewhere where there were plenty of men who are free and ready to be plucked like daisies in an unattended front yard. I had to go to the only place that sounded so full of men, that they named it that. I had to go to Mangalore. Yes. As in Man-galore.
Mangalore is a tiny town two hours north of Melbourne. I convinced my (also) single friend, Lisa to come along for the ride. She can drive, I can't. Two hours out of Melbourne we get to the centre of Mangalore, although I don't think Mangalore can technically be called a town. The centre of it is just an old farmhouse, a railroad crossing, paddocks, sheep, more sheep and a definite lack of men.
I uninstalled Spotify on my phone to make room for Tinder, just for the trip—and Tinder told me it was still searching. Where were all the men? Where was anyone?
Lisa and I drove over to what was supposed to be a pub. A friend on Facebook assured me that Mangalore had a pub, but when we got there it was closed, and now seems to be just someone's home. "I can't believe the pub's fucking closed," I said to Lisa. "Let's go to the pub the next town over," she said.
The pub in Avenel was open, thank fuck. Inside, the friendly bartender and pub-owner introduced himself as Carl. Carl explained that the Mangalore pub closed down 10 years ago, and the town itself had about six houses and a very small airport. We'd seen signs for the airport. The signs were the only ones that I was able to pose in front of. Despite the town being very small, Lisa and I couldn't find the mythical airport. Carl nodded as though he'd never been able to find the airport either.
After Carl we went and talked to an old guy in the corner who was named Chook. Chook was a regular, he explained, and he had his own corner. Indeed there was a sign behind Chook declaring "CHOOK'S CORNER."
"Chook, do you have any advice for heartbreak?" I asked. "Flowers," he said. "Me mates put flowers all behind me. Along here, under Bluey's jersey. Bluey was captain of the Bombers." Then Chook talked about football and I didn't understand what the flowers were for.
"Were you married? Your ring, were you married?" Lisa asked pointing at his wedding band. "Yeah, but she's gone now," he said, seemingly unfazed and pulled a photo from his wallet. "This is my friend. But my friends are dead as well." Chook laughed at his friends being dead. Not maliciously, but like it was weird that he wasn't dead.
After that we left. The sun was slowly setting so we decided to try finding the Mangalore airport. After more driving up dirt roads, we ended up at a very small runway. There were three light planes on the ground and a sign that warned of crossing children. There were definitely no children around. The airport looked more like the location of a 70s acid hippy cult than a place for embarking on air-travel.
Speaking of cults—we suddenly looked around to find 20 young men at the other end of the airport, all in pilot uniforms. They were yelling to each other and Lisa pointed out they looked like Mormons. Then they all quickly got on a bus and drove right past us. That's where all the men of Mangalore were. They were Mormons, driving away, out of my life.
In the car on the way back home we passed Tallarook. I once went to a New Years Eve there with my ex. I could feel myself tearing up. I don't really get my period anymore because I got an IUD inserted last November, so I had to blame the watery eyes on my actual feelings.
We hit a patch of crazy heavy rain not long after my eyes dried. It was so heavy that we actually wouldn't see the red of the brake lights from the cars in front, so Lisa pulled over. I jumped out and stood in the rain for a moment. It was actually pretty refreshing to stand in the rain, and not as sad as romantic movies make it seem.
Heartbreak is dumb and annoying, but the only way to get through it is time, I guess. Because going to Mangalore sure won't help.