"Australia 1999" story # 29


Lismore, New South Wales
May 25, 1999

Sadly, my remaining weeks at SCU numbered only two.
     Sweet Brandy hosted me. The short, sun-blonde running fiend was one of the cutest Minnesotters around. She had the voice of a little girl who loved her mommy. She studied to be a kidnergarten teacher.
     But, despite all this, she wasn't without her vices: namely, eating sweets and drinking VB's (Victoria Bitters - popular Aussie beers). It wasn't uncommon to find Brandy in the uni bar or a downtown pub with nothing to say for herself but, "I can't believe I skipped class to get drunk and eat Easter candy."
     Due to our diets, the two of us, and Talia, got along great. I remember well the first Snickers-Oreo-hot-fudge sundaes we shared as roommates, because Brandy said, "Mmm, wow! These are the best ones yet!"
     On second thought, I might be confused, because Brandy said that for every Snickers-Oreo-hot-fudge sundae we shared. Just like a whale migrates naturally when pregnant, Brandy says, "This is the best sundae yet!" when excited.
     Man, when she said that, it was cute!

Led by our rainforest trip and my Dalwood Falls blooper (a story which turned my roommate red with giggles when she heard it), my first week on Brandy's floor had been eventful.
     I'd even accomplished something. On Tuesday, I got my favorite shoes re-soled.
     Well, my four-year old brown loafers weren't "re-soled" in the traditional sense. The shoe cobbler had looked over the loose stitching, the warped leather's unequal coloring, and the holy bottoms and said it'd cost $60 to re-sole them properly. Cobbling was evidently an expensive undertaking, because the shoes hadn't originally cost a third of that!
     Spotting a hideous, but similar-looking, pair of shoes for $16 elsewhere in the mall, I gave birth to an incredible idea: I'd simply saw the soles off another pair of shoes and nail them onto my old, totally un-hideous, loafers. Genius!
     My first sawing attempt split one sole into two small wedges. Scissors worked better. In the end, super-glue worked better than nails for attachment. And, oilah! My shoes were as good as new.
     And, with presents picked from the mall, I was ready for Raquel's birthday party. Ironically, I prepared the presents next to a big birthday cake my suitemante, Jamie, had been given.
     With a picture from Raquel's and my Easter Break trip in plain view, Raquel entered the suite. Taken off-guard, I explained that I was getting her gift ready.
     "Oh, how sweet ..." she said, thinking I'd baked the cake.
     Thus, it was a little embarrassing when I gave her a framed photo of us wrestling a plastic crocodile on the Gold Coast and a tape of Roxette music I'd dubbed. She liked them, but a cake would've been nice, too!
     Her cake-less party was at a restaurant. I rolled in large on my repaired favorite shoes. They may not have been perfect. The slanted remnants of my old shoes rejected the glossier new ones and, in an effort to escape during the super-gluing, had huddled to one side at a leaning angle, causing my ankles to buckle with each weighty step. I might soon have had back problems, but they were my favorite shoes, and they were back!
     I pointed them out to Elkie, who'd previously mocked them.
     "I was about to ask if you got new shoes," she said sweetly, flattering me. (And I appreciated it.)
     But, what capped off the night for me was finally gaining a decision in the good Crocodile Hunter/bad Crocodile Hunter debate I had with Raquel.
     It was heated. She kept saying my hero sedates the animals in order to subdue them on tv. I said I'd met him and that the whole reason he pulled dangerous stunts to subdue them was to avoid risking the health of the animals he was saving by sedating them.
     She said, "How can he have no scars? Nobody can do that. No one! Paul Hogan's the only real crocodile hunter!"
     "No one" can do it? But Paul Hogan can? A costly slip, Raquel, my friend, a foolish error. With the main point of Raquel's argument disproved, I claimed victory.
     Woohoo! (Unfortunately, the loser has yet to admit defeat. Nevertheless, go Crocodile Hunter!)

Another long-standing rivalry had seen a decisive blow during the week. This argument was between Jenny, the vegan Australian roommate of Matt and Ryan's, and Jeremy, who loved meat.
     While visiting Matt and Ryan one day, I noticed little notes hanging in the kitchen. Apparently, Jeremy had been over recently, gotten stoned, and written pro-meat slogans all over Jenny's fridge.
     The slogans included, but weren't limited to: "Just Eat It!" ... "Meat: It's Good to Eat, it's Good to Beat" ... "You Can't Beat Meat!" ... "A Chicken: It's a Good Thing to Put Your Di*k In."
     Surfer Tom was over. He heard me laughing at the fridge and said, "That kid Jeremy's the type of guy who'll wake up after working twenty years at the post office and go out and kill a bunch of people."
     Tom and I got on a more normal subject: the final assignment to shoot a video for our Video class. Tom, a former army member and a wanna-be scriptwriter with good ideas, had appreciated and learned from the class. He liked the shots and angles he could make with the camera.
     I'd avoided the camera like I'd avoided the Outdoor Ed. maps like I'd avoid the plague, or, worse yet, like I'd avoid work. But, I appreciated the class too. It was easy. And, I got to act in my video.

The next day, our videos were shown in class. Tom got a kick out of my group's.
     We'd shot an interview of lifeguards spoofing Baywatch. Our camera angles featured the serious, smart news reporter and close-ups of the three "pretty-boy" lifeguards.
     As a lifeguard, I had a Woody Boyd-smiling, winking, and flirting thing going on. Another group-member, Ally, was a small girl with a big voice who kept jumping in front of the camera to steal the spotlight. And, my cheery Aussie friend, Cath, came along to play the ditziest. She thought long about simple questions and lacked a lifelong dream.
     For the final scene, we mocked Baywatch by having the lifeguards run down the beach. We lifeguards were incompetent, though. Ally made a head-over-heels fall, and I also fell, hurting my arm and requiring a stumbly piggy-back ride from Cath.

I'd always gotten by with a little help from my friends. I left my final roommate and re-united with Roommate # 1, Kim, for good-byes.
     Over dinner, intelligent Kim convinced me being gay was nature and not a choice, providing a flawless argument I had to admit defeat in.
     She celebrated afterwards by picking up a bottle of wine. As she struggled to open the bottle, I tried making the liquor clerk think she was an alcoholic. Why? It seemed like a fun thing to do.
     "All the bottles of wine a person drinks, you'd think they could open one by now," I said. "... She just can't wait to get into that bottle."
     I returned to my room, where Brandy and I received a visit from Canadian Matt. He'd hitched his way around Ireland, where pints of Guiness were his meals. Experienced, he offered advice for my hitching trip to Sydney, set to take place the next morning.
     "Truck stops are the way to go," he said.
     As I lay on my floor that night, I figured the advice would come in handy. I had over 500 miles to go.

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