"Australia 1999" story # 15


Gold Coast, Queensland
April 9, 1999

Six hours after we'd left Frasier Island, Raquel and I were out for a big feed at Charlie's 24-hour restaurant in Gold Coast. I giggled immaturely as Raquel folded back her lips and said, casually, "Rad! Awww, those waves are hell-wicked." - a Chris impression.
     The sad truth was, after two or so days, Chris had turned into a surfing, breathing annoyance. The human ear, so close to the brain, can only hear a person say "Bloody Oath!" and "Spewin'!" so many times before it instructs the brain to kill, and to kill painfully. Chris was dangerously close to that mark. His other favorites were to proceed every adjective he meant to emphasize, which were all of them, with "heaps-" or "hell-". And, on Frasier Island, he seemed to have been playing a game in which he said the phrase, "The dingo ate my dingo," every five minutes. Irritation shuttered through my body whenever he said that. I could think of one thing I gladly would've fed the dingo - a certain, pufferfish-faced travel companion with permanently stuck-out lips and a huge gap between his front teeth.
     An hour earlier, Chris declared his intentions to take the bus home to Adelaide a few days early. So, Raquel and I were now celebrating with a sweet banana shake, a huge portion of amply-decorated nachos, and a pizza. Sometimes, Raquel even talked like Raquel. "Craiky, is this a big feed 'er what?"
     Even a hippopotamus would've respected the amounts of food Raquel and I had been eating this trip. "Well, we've gotta finish it all," I told her.
     "You bet," she said, with a firm nod that meant business.
     An hour later, we were in our hotel room, with an over-stuffed Raquel moaning from agony on the bed. I really needed to stop convincing girls I was out with to gorge themselves. I kept making people sick - that's my worst personality flaw.
     Raquel recovered, and we made a late-night casino run. Chris talked. "Awww, I went to the cazzy down in Adelaide, and, man, it was real full-on!"
     Raquel lost her temper, and she yelled at Chris exactly what I'd been thinking every time I'd heard an Australian use that phrase. "Full-on!? Chris! What does that even mean!?"
     Chris struggled. "It means ... the place was ... just, you know ... real ... full- ... on?"
     I was glad to have that cleared up.

We walked around the touristy streets of the giant pleasure pot that is downtown Gold Coast. The city was full of young kids, many of them surfers, who'd come to the fancy hotels and booming waters of this vacation-spot. Raquel, Chris, and I checked out all the shops specializing in trinkets, souvenirs, and the latest club fashions. We sampled some thick, rich New Zealand ice cream.
     Chris repeatedly forgot Raquel's love for life in the ocean and pointed out to her, excitedly, every seafood restaurant we passed plus many of the items on their menus. Nevertheless, Raquel said she felt sorry that her short temper with Chris had caused him to be leaving us early. I think it was this pity that caused her to agree to join him for a ride on the Gold Coast bungee-shooter.
     For the bungee-shooter, Chris and Raquel took seats in a big metal sphere. They were strapped in, and then the sphere was released from its hold on the ground. Taut bungee cords stretched to the tops of the fifty-foot pylons, and this tension flung my companions, like a vertical slingshot, towards the sky. They bobbed up and down for a while before resting.
     Through the wonders of a video-camera attached to the metal sphere, I was able to relive the experience with the Aussies. They played the tape for the gathered public. "I'm going to hate you for this," Raquel told Chris as they sat back in the sphere. The background started flashing spasticly between blue sky, grey skyscrapers, and the busy Gold Coast street, while the g-forces pulled on the screaming faces. The background rocking had slowed when a grinning Raquel said, "I don't hate you." The side of Raquel I'd come to know said, "It wasn't worth it. I should've saved my money and gotten a good feed." You could see the bungee workers cringe when she said this, and many people who'd been waiting carefully snuck off.
     At night, we began our festivities at a wood-floored Top 40 club. To stave off Chris's no-armed dipping convulsions, Raquel danced close to me. I taught her my world-renowned mime-in-a-box move - a rare and beautiful sight on the dance floor when I'm in my element. Eventually, though, my skills weren't good enough to keep Raquel's cool dancing near me. She moved like a gangster, waving her hands and spinning around like she was laying down the law or beating someone up. (Incidently, my vote for best dancer goes to that guy in the white suit in Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video. Does it get cooler than him in the knife fight? I mean, besides the mime-in-a-box, of course)
     I watched jealously while she danced with another guy, until, like a kid needing attention, I got an idea. I pointed to my eyes and then to my body, mouthed "watch me", and did a breakdance. I got her attention, but I fell and hit my head on a pillar. Raquel kept dancing, and some muscly-looking guy pointed at me and laughed hysterically.
     It was a pretty fun night of dancing, though. After we'd hit up a few nice Gold Coast spots, Raquel was quite drunk and, therefore, quite funny. All night, she had been sticking out her lips to imitate Chris. Whenever he looked, she quickly returned to normal and pretended to be chewing gum. As we walked home, she somehow had a toothpick, which greatly enhanced the impression. She made the Chris face and pretended to stick the toothpick straight through a gap in her teeth, as Chris actually had done earlier. This caused Raquel to erupt into laughter and fall down.
     When she recovered, a serious matter was at hand. A shop-owner hosed garbage down the sewers. Raquel yelled at him: "Doesn't anybody care about the dolphins? The poor little dolphins? Do you know how many dolphins die from swallowing rubbish? When will people see? Instead, we got stupid idiots spraying their trash into the sea!" The shop-owner had no response. Raquel had got the best of him there. She lost credibility when she started babbling about a nuclear war in 2003.
     I was a little disturbed by the war talk, but it was nothing a trip to the casino wouldn't cure! After the casino, I no longer thought about Raquel's war ranting; I was more concerned about having no money.
     I woke up to find Chris's possum-face still asleep on the couch. I feared he'd missed his bus. It was my most paralyzing moment of terror in Australia, even worse than nearly dying, to see him there. I felt like a fly stung by a bug-zapper, and I think my heart stopped for a second.
     Fortunately, it turned out to be early. I rushed Chris to the bus station, said an awkward good-bye, and wiped my brow in relief that I'd never hear "Bloody Oath, this beach is hell-spewin'!" or see that puss again.

Gold Coast (2): +$65, -$75
Semester to Date: -$205

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