Tomorrow I fly back to the land where I was raised, Australia The Land Of Poisonous Shit That Kills You, as my American friends see it, much as I try to convince them that I grew up in the suburbs where the scariest local creatures were the Aussie boys. While I love going back to catch up with friends, family, and the fabulous clothes shopping on Chapel Street, unlike Peter Allen I don’t still call Australia home. It appears that while growing up there I never felt fully Aussie, being raised as I was by (ex) Soviet Jews. Now I am sufficiently Yankofied to render me another kind of outsider.
“How long you visiting for then?” greets me from the mouths of every shopkeeper at the “milk bar” (corner store- a dying phenomenon even there.)
“I grew up here,” I reply helpfully in my hybrid (fucked up) accent.
“Really, love? You sound like a Seppo,” (Yank, Septic tank, Seppo, ya follow?)
I’m asked for my “Christian” name (that’s Aussie for first name) and given strange looks when I respond that my name can’t be Christian when I’m Jewish, and anyway the name is Italian so… Then I’m asked for my “surname,” which is “last name” in DownUnder-ese, but at least it doesn’t come with a religious affiliation.
If I ate Ketchup I’d have to call it “tomato sauce,” of you say “tom-ah-to, I say pot-ah-to” fame. If I were bringing my kids (is it inappropriate to be quite this happy that I’m not?) they might go to Luna Park (old school amusement park) to ride some “dodgem cars,” which sounds so much gentler than its “bumper” American cousin. I might accidentally ask for a “napkin” instead of a “serviette,” and as it’s winter snuggle into my “jumper” instead of the “sweater” I packed in my suitcase.
And if I were getting laid, I might actually expect foreplay. Ha. See how I did that? Sorry Aussie men, but just as much as I will enjoy gawking at you and your strong roofing hands from afar, I know that when it comes to both you and your glorious Australia, sadly I can never go back.