Issue #81 – “The Blunder Down Under” – January 17th, 2006

-As I took off from Sydney Airport last week, headed back to LAX after a two-and-a-half-week Australian adventure, I suddenly realized my flight was following the same exact route as the ill-fated passengers on the show “Lost.”  Thankfully, my plane landed safely in Los Angeles and not some mysterious netherworld populated by bizarre characters of uncertain ilk (though, admittedly, it’s pretty difficult to tell the difference).  However, I think the flight (in which some dude actually had the pilot propose to his girlfriend over the loudspeaker) was an appropriately strange ending to an overall absurd trip.  Here’s the recap of my blunder Down Under.

-The primary combatants on the trip were my buddies Jen and Triplet #2, and our first order of business upon arriving in Sydney was to take Trip 2 out for his birthday.  Due to Jen’s extensive business travel, she was able to get us upgraded to a gourmet suite in the Sydney Marriott.  This worked out well as I was able to utilize the bucket that held our complimentary champagne to vomit in profusely after taking three birthday shots for every one of Trip 2’s.  The following day, we were scheduled to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the top of which offers spectacular views of the Opera House and the rest of the city.  Unfortunately for me, one of the prerequisites to scaling the bridge was passing a breathalyzer test.  Let me tell you what I discovered – no matter where you are in the world, when you fail a breathalyzer at 3pm solely from drinking the previous night, most people are laughing at you, not with you.

-On my list of most annoying people to travel with, the very worst are people who get really tan and won’t stop discussing their tanning strategies.  For over two weeks, I had to hear Jen and Trip 2 talk about how much “color” they got and how they hoped to get more “color” and where they might be lacking in “color.”  Nobody mother-fucking cares, you assholes!  I need two coats of SPF 45 just to avoid getting burnt to a crisp on an overcast day.  But, hey, at least I’m not bitter.

-I studied abroad with Trip 2 in college, so I knew he’d be a good person to travel with because we have similar sightseeing protocols: see the major sights, take a picture or two, and then get the fuck outta there.  What is it about girls that makes them want to linger at every single plaque, rock, or tree?  Guys are much more efficient.  While swimming in Lake McKenzie, a top tourist spot in Australia featuring crystal clear freshwater surrounded by white beaches and lush green forest, Trip 2 said to me, “Wow, this is beautiful.”  And I was like, “Yeah, it really is.”  We both admired the landscape for a moment and then Trip 2 said, “I could leave in fifteen minutes” and I was like, “Totally.”

-The grand finale of the trip was three days sailing in the Great Barrier Reef, where we met up with another college friend, Mike.  Me, Mike, and Trip 2 made up an intimidating triumvirate of recovering frat boys crammed on a boat with a dozen Aussies, Brits, and Scots.  Things got interesting one night when I awoke to find an Aussie chick climbing into bed with me on the deck of the ship, clearly wanting to hook up.  In my drunken/sleeping haze, it took me a few minutes to realize she thought I was Mike.  Noticing she had already removed her bra and fearing an international incident, I hesitantly told her that I was not, in fact, Mike.  Incredibly embarrassed, she flitted away crying, “All you Americans look the same!”  I smiled and fell back asleep.  My work here was done.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-Have you ever been walking down the hallway toward your apartment and happen to get a glimpse through a half-opened door of the inside of an apartment down the hall from you?  It’s usually such a rush to finally see how the other half lives, quickly followed by the crushing realization that, though architecturally identical, your neighbor’s apartment is much more lavishly decorated – wait, is that a leather sectional where my canvas futon is? – and finally you pledge to never again avert your eyes from the well-worn strip of carpet that runs directly from the elevator to your poor excuse of an apartment nor ever leave your own door open enough to enable others to view your pathetically furnished hovel.

-Is there anything more awkward than attempting to bribe someone who doesn’t realize they’re being bribed?  When I first moved into my apartment, I tried to grease the Comcast guy to upgrade me from a single-tuner DVR to a then-rare dual-tuner DVR so that I could tape new episodes of “Lost” while simultaneously watching old episodes of “Lost.”  He just didn’t get it.  He was like, “I can’t do that for you because then headquarters will know I installed it.”  And I was like, “Welllll… is there anything I can do to make it worth your while?”  And he was like, “You should probably call customer service and get on the waiting list.”  Finally I just said, “How about I secretly give you money in exchange for you helping me out?”  He paused for a minute and then said, “Um, I don’t think I’m allowed to do that.”  Of course you’re not allowed to do that, jackass!  God damn it.  You know what?  Just hook up Skinemax and get the fuck out of here.

-About a month ago, I was having dinner with my cousin in Santa Monica when she told me that she had just broken up with this guy she had been dating for a long time and thought she might even marry.  I was the first person she had told.  And as she was telling me what happened, and getting a little upset, I started to feel really, really bad for her.  I mean, overcome with grief.  But not so much because of the end of her relationship.  No, all I could think about was how many times she would have to tell the same story to different people.  I could just imagine the coming weeks and how she would have to repeat herself over and over again – the same boring, drawn-out explanation of what happened for every person that asked.  My God, that must be so agonizingly annoying to do.  The end of a relationship, well, that’s one thing.  But telling the same story more than once?  Oh, the horror.

-And, finally, during my blunder Down Under, I learned a lot about Australians.  For example, the girls are extremely hot and always bikini-clad (apparently from the age of three on up).  Everyone has great “color” and is into outdoor adventure sports (as for me, I took surfing lessons for three hours then called it a career).  But most of all, I learned that when it comes down do it, Aussies are just plain old nice.  Everyone’s like, “You first, mate,” “No worries, mate,” “Go right ahead, mate.”  I was like, “Will somebody just fucking move first?  I gotta take a piss!”  It all came together for me in Byron Bay, a beach town north of Sydney, when Trip 2 accidentally spilled a beer all over me.  Within thirty seconds, a random dude at the bar had bought me a new beer.  When I insisted on paying him, he refused, saying, “No worries, mate.  It’s the Aussie spirit.”  Maybe that’s what the world needs more of – the Aussie spirit.  After all, extremely polite, tan chicks wearing bikinis and speaking in a hot accent never hurt anyone.  That is, unless they think they’re hooking up with one American, but it’s really his friend.  At that point, the Aussie spirit really just wants its bra back.  Fuck me, mate!