It took me two days to fall in love with Australians. It was the instant when “like” turned to “love.” As sure of the hands typing this, I knew at that moment that something special had happened.
“Throw another shrimp on the bar-b!” D. demanded.
My heart melted and I swooned mightily. But he didn’t stop.
“They aren’t shrimp, they’re PRAWNS, and you don’t throw them on the bar-b.”
For the rest of the car ride I was grinning. If my trip was cut off two days in, I would have been ok with that. I had not only heard an Australian stereotype beautifully executed in full accent, the same person then tried to logically argue against it.
D. is a specimen of Australian eccentricity. He was exactly 11 minutes late picking us up for church. He pulled up in a lowered Mercedes Benz with shiny rims. I squeaked into the backseat over dark leather seats, shook his hand and couldn’t help but note his taste in jewelry. Gold rings, bracelets and necklaces ordained his personage, and he peered through large Prada sunglasses. “G’day.”
We drove along and he entertained us by simply being D. I don’t believe I said a word, but there was never had a dull moment. He described his job as a “cabana boy” (pool boy – I still can’t figure out if they really call them cabana boys or if he just sexed up the title for a guy who checks your pool chemicals). When we arrived, he got out and was very cabana boy-ish in cutoffs and a mesh shirt. Later, he pulled his unicycle out of the car trunk and rode it up and down the street proudly honking his unicycle horn. The horn was mounted on the bike upright directly below the seat. Take a second to visualize it. If only you could hear that sound of authentic bike horn.
Shan told me before I left that Australians are very sarcastic. I think that’s why I love them. Despite being jetlagged on the first day, I sparred with a table full of Aussies and shared a good laugh over a glass of cordial (pronounced “coh-dee-ul”). They love to take digs on America, regardless of how ludicrous the argument becomes. The main argument is “We are better because…” If they lose that argument, it simply becomes the apathetic argument of “We don’t care.” It’s a seemingly flawless strategy. Last night, I argued with the head of the household, E., over why Australian (off-white) cheese is inferior to American (orange) cheese. We didn’t argue on flavor, just because one has coloring and the other does not. E. is a trained chef, so I should have been outgunned. He argued the inferiority of American cheese because it contains added dies that spoil the flavor. He slowly shredded Australian cheese over cooked pasta while describing the intricacies of it all. E. then paused, looked at me, then grinned as he tasted cheese victory. But he let his guard down. I outmaneuvered him and reasoned that while our orange coloring may not enhance the taste, one of the cardinal sins of chefery is poor presentation. American cheese accents white macaroni and makes a more aesthetically desirable dish. Australian off-white cheese sadly limps into the macaroni palette. Voices were raised during this battle. D., my American cousin and ally, shared a collective “booya” and left him to his cheese shredding.
I can’t believe I’m retelling a story about a cheese-die argument. I’m done.