No Worries, Mate or Beyond the Black stump

00:00 February 26, 2013
By: Phil LaMancusa

Believe-iternot I’ve become a bit of a Go-To Guy when it comes to passing along information on little or notatall-considered subjects.

Certainly…(pregnant pause)…there are questions that everyone should be asking themselves—but ask yourself this—has anyone thought to ask: “who are these Australians, where do they come from and what do they want?” No? I didn’t think so. That’s why you have me.

Australians are people that live in a land far far away: a place called, oddly enough, Australia. Most of Australia is inhabited by non-human things that would like to kill you, and primarily they live in places where humans do not, which is most of the country. Australia has a buncha buncha deadly animals, insects, plants, spiders and snakes that are only found in that country, and in a greater variety than, say…the entire North American hemisphere. This is why Australians mostly live urbanely (or in populated areas). There are only two human beings for every square kilometer in Australia, but—because most of the country is uninhabitable—by living in what’s left after that’s taken out of the equation, Australia is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. The 50th to be exact. Australia is three-quarters the size of the USA, with a little over six-and-a-half percent of our population. When you fl y from Australia to the good old USA, you’ll arrive before you’ve departed. When you fl y from here to there, you lose a whole day from your life: gone forever.

Does that make any sense? No? Well, neither does most of Australia.

For instance, their indigenous peoples, called Aborigines, have been carbon-dated to 60,000 years ago, and nobody can explain where the heck they came from because Australia has been an island for a lot longer than that. Incidentally, Australia has no apes for the Abos to evolve from; ergo, God created man in his image in what would become the land Terra Australis (a name that means “someplace down under”).

Either that, or they sailed there before boats and Vegemite were invented. No one talks about Aborigines much. Anyway, in the 1600s, the Dutch came, called the place New Holland and then quickly left, wanting nothing to do with it. In 1770, Sir Jos Banks discovered it as New South Wales, recommended that the Brits should colonize the place, and then he came to New Orleans and opened a clothing store, supplying our colonists with much-needed seersucker suits. The Brits promptly emptied their slammers and sent about a thousand petty crooks to the Great Down Under in 1788, many of whom died because they could steal but they could not feed themselves very well. Yes, and Australia missed being a French colony by *this* much.

Onward: what do they want? Simple: they want to have fun, and if you’re an Aussie in America you’re having nothing but fun. That, and they want us to love Vegemite as much as they hate peanut butter. Why do we see numbers of Aussies in New Orleans? Simple: they love to drink and they’re good at it. That, plus they’re just all around the most upbeat, polite, and friendly of folks that you’ll ever meet unless you try to give them a peanut butter sandwich. Mention Vegemite…and watch them light up. Aussies avoid confl ict and arguments, I think because they know that they are always right and they know that they can kick our asses if they’re not. That attitude comes with the belief that eating Vegemite makes you tough, smart, easygoing, good-looking and healthy.

We’re also seeing more and more visitors from Down Under because it’s affordable for them now, and they’re happy to be somewhere where there’s not a crocodile stalking them or a giant spider or small snake ready to kill them with deadly venom just for the fun of it. Plus, we have plenty of beer.

I’m reading In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, which is instrumental in my knowledge of Australia, supplemented by addendums from the Aussies that I work with. E.g., Bill Bryson tells me that the city of Adelaide is called the “City of Churches” and why. Kristin (with whom I work), on the other hand, explains to me why Adelaide is called the “City of Corpses” and why. A nice balance, if you ask me.

When visitors from Australia come to my shop, I tell them that I’m reading Bill Bryson’s book, and they invariably look at me and nod politely as if I had just told them that I was reading the back of a cereal box. When I ask them where in Australia they’re from…their ears perk up. They mention that they’re from Australia as if they were saying that they live in Gentilly…not like they happen to come from the sixth-largest country in the whole frigging world. Then I mention Vegemite and tell them that I love the stuff. Bingo! We’re now BFF.

In closing, know that Aussies use slang words like Bluger, fair dinkum, squizz, bluey, fi gjam, pash, bogan and coo-ee. But here’s some good oil: if you’re sinking piss with some Sheila and get rotten or off your face and decide to sound like a dag with the “G’day, mate; toss me a shrimp on the barbie!” routine, she might go Aussie on you, get mad as a cut snake or a frog in a sock and knock you arse over tits; and, if you don’t believe me, give it a burl, ya nong.

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