"Australia 1999" story # 17


Gold Coast, Queensland
April 18, 1999

Soon after Easter Break, I departed from Kristi's room and moved in with an excited Jess.
     My new roommate was a short, blond Minnesotan who knew hot to party and got crazy some nights. On my third night there, her birthday, Jess had 27 drinks. The two of us boogied to "Sweet Child O' Mine," our song, at the Powerhouse.
     In looks, Jess had the perfect features for cuteness: rounded-rectangular, sunny eyes of the lightest blue, elevated eyebrows, a button nose, and the smile of someone tickled by the world. Personality-wise, she was the nicest person I've ever met. She loved treating friends at bars or restaurants, though she wasn't rich. Her eagerness to help me was probably the reason my semester as a nomad was working, and on the first mornings we woke up together, she made me toast. Along with Doc Gooden and the Crocodile Hunter, she was my hero.
     She was a smart cookie, too. For an Outdoor Education project, she crafted this cool jigsaw puzzle containing photos and reflections from the recent camping trip. I spent a lot of time with my project, too, illustrating my Bushwalking Nazi-imposed oppressions in a sitck-figure comic titled "The Camping Trip from Hell."
     To present an alternative example to my and Jess's hard work, Jeremy had taken three minutes to wrecklessly scribble a ten-line poem about the trip. I've seen people feel greater pride for things they've left in the toilet than Jeremy must've felt towards the quality of his workload that semester. It was pathetic; man, everybody ought to do a semester abroad.
     Jeremy had told me earlier in the week that everyone around campus knew about me and Elkie. Odd, because not much had happened between us. But, I felt confident. To Kim, the old pimp, I'd made the bold declaration that Elkie was mine - "as good as in my pocket," I said. Nevertheless, for all my efforts and visits with Elkie, this was another progress-less week.

A school trip had been offered to the Gold Coast this weekend, and I made plans to go with the German, Kai.
     Kai was a funny guy, with an accent that screamed of big skeins of Heineken, two-pound rolls of bratwurst, and clog-dancing. His hair was gelled down, his eyes were deep-set and light, and his face was so pleasant it looked kind of dopey. A lot of people confused us, possibly due to to the dopey part.
     Our bus to Queensland stopped once, at a park for a bathroom break. A gathering was assembled of men and women in their fifties, sixties, and seventies collecting food from a long tray. Kai and I contemplated sneaking some food, but we reasoned we'd need at least to pretend to be old. Kai did his old man's walk demonstration, for which his shaking body slowly inched forward aided by a cane. "Oh, sonny," he said feebly.
     At Jupiters Casino in Gold Coast, we signed up for our Casino Rewards' Card. Unfortunately, my blackjack-playing yielded only one reward: a $60 one for Jupiters. Kai gained $50 slwoly at roulette, and then, like a true high roller, he lost it all at once. We spent the rest of the time trying to figure out what exactly the Casino Rewards' Cards' rewards were, and if they included being able to get free drinks.
     A friend of Kai's, Michelle, joined us in lounging. She was a country girl, with hazy brown complexion, hair like Kirstie Alley's in Cheers, and the most-perfect accent I'd ever heard. Blended from Australia and her time in Britain, she spoke with the class of the Royal Family and the delicate, genuinely sorrow-filled compassion of, for lack of a famous Australian saint, which would be far more appropriate, Mother Theresa. She was cute, and I guess her and Kai had previously hooked up. The first thing I saw Kai do around her, besides lose $50, was to drop a condom from his wallet.
     He smacked himself for that one. "Michelle's got to be thinking," he told me, "she knows exactly what my intentions are for tonight. No advantage of surprise now."
     The three of us got lunch, along with Michelle's friend, a troll-like girl whose horizontalness was battling her verticalness for dominance. Not much of a double-date. In addition, the toppings on my food were so undercooked I could've sworn my pizza oinked at me. Kai entertained us with stories of the months of work he did in Taiwan and how he didn't talk to anyone. Then, we went for a walk on the beach.
     "Do you know how to tell if the tide's coming in or going out?" said Kai, with a tone of voice that suggested he knew and could enlighten. The tide was out at the time, leaving small pools in the light brown sand.
     Michelle and I shook our heads and asked how.
     Kai said anti-climaticly, "I don't know." Leaving me and Michelle hanging, he shrugged his shoulders and walked on. "I wonder ... "
     We checked out the Gold Coast town. At the sex shop (they seemed to be popular Down Under), Kai and I laughed at the products and the people who might buy them. We considered standing by the counter all day and pointing and laughing at anyone who bought something.
     Interestingly enough, though, Kai was a big fan of the strip clubs. He pointed out every good strip club in town, even with Michelle there, saying over and over, "Ah, dat's a good one."
     For dinner, with the others, I returned to the tasty food and big portions of Charlie's Restaurant. I got a tall stack of pancakes and a banana shake. Kai, trying to save money, ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, fish and chips. The waitress highly suggested he get a bigger order.
     "Does it cost more?" he said.
     "Yes," said the server.
     "No, thanks."
     A second later, a different server, this one a guy, came to our table with silverwear. "Alright, who got the kid's meal?" We looked around the table. It was Kai. The server, playfully Australian, said, "Aww, here you go," and he tucked a napkin into the neck of Kai's shirt.
     Later, the food was brought out, and we all noticed how puny Kai's dish was.
     Disappointed, Kai said, "Ah, can I have a beer please?"
     Ofcourse, Kai was well over the drinking age, 18, but the waiter looked at his kid's meal, put his hands to his hips, and eyed Kai with a who-do-you-think-you're-fooling stare. "I'm afraid I'm gonna have to see some i.d."
     Finally, Kai got his drink, completing the oh-so-popular kid's meal-and-beer combo. The waiter moved away, but turned back with a witty smile. "Sorry, mate, you need a straw?" Kai turned red with embarrassment.
     Towards nighttime, the rest of our group from school showed us how the Aussies party. They played drinking games, of which they knew a staggering amount, but the rules for each only slightly differed, in relation to how many people drank and when, and the games had no real competative value except in discovering who could get drunk quickest. Soon, the "competitors" were all trashed and filling the bar with drinking songs.
     We played pool before hitting the clubs. Kai and I took on some Aussies. I taunted their nationality. "So, it looks like a battle between the technologic powerhouses of the world vs. ... uh ... let's see ... the largest alcohol-consumers of the world!" The Australians laughed last, as I didn't sink a ball (it must've been that damned Coriolis effect causing the balls to rotate clockwise, instead of counter-clockwise!).
     At the first club, Kai didn't say one thing to me which didn't include the phrase, "I'm so hungry." Apparently, the kid's meal wasn't holding him over too well. He stepped out for a bite. In the meantime, I danced with Michelle, who called me "the worst dancer on the floor." I must not have been catching the beat with the Janet Jackson-like expertise I'd thought I was.
     I looked up to see the odd sight of someone dressed-up and in the corner of a nightclub eating a McDonald's cheeseburger and holding another. All around him, people danced, and he was wiping ketchup off his chin. It was Kai. They do things differently in Germany, I guess.
     I could tell Kai and Michelle wanted to be alone, so I left soon after. I took a dip in the Gold Coast. Although I could've gotten caught in a riptide and carried to sea, as in other swimming excursions, at least I wouldn't look as idiotic as I must have on the dance floor.
     The next morning, our bus, after having to wait for Kai to take a forty-minute shower, departed from the Gold Coast. It had been a fine, fun-filled weekend, but I muissed my new roommate.

"She's got eyes of the bluest skies, that give no thought of rain, I'd hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain ... " - Guns N' Roses (Sweet Child O' Mine)

Gold Coast (1): -$60
Semester to Date: -$265

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