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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Of Fatherly Bonding

“Darl. Darl… wake up darl… It’s 4.30… I couldn’t get to sleep, and then I got a migraine, and then I accidentally took two Mersyndol Night instead of Mersyndol Day so you’ll probably have to drive. I’ve made you a piece of dry toast.”

This is usually how our once yearly road trip to Sydney begins.

Nowadays I don’t get the wakeup call from Dad as we reside in different corners of Brunswick - Dad in his ‘Secret Life of Us’ -style apartment and me in the Women’s Crisis Center of Death. As we do like to make an early start and avoid peak hour traffic when we arrive in Sydney, we usually agree to leave at some ungodly hour in the vicinity of 5.30AM. Due to the nature of the Lewis family’s crippling punctuality and politeness policy, the pressure of the next mornings routine running smoothly undoubtedly results in zero sleep the night before. We both lie in our separate houses completely awake all night, secretly wanting to call the other at 3.55AM to say “fuck it, lets just go”, but being to scared to do so as we assume the other person has just fallen asleep and will later kill the other in cold blood for waking them up.

Welcome to the complicated splendor of being a Lewis.

Once we are on the open road the forecast predicts an 82% chance of soft fluffy clouds filled with adult contemporary easy listening. It is not unusual for the pressure to be literally taken down by The Voice himself by the time we hit the Hume Highway. The next ten or so hours will be filled with every secret song that Dad and I pretend not to love outside the confines of this special time of year. Hours of James Taylor, Willie Nelson and Jackson Browne are interrupted only by some of Chris Rea’s best and most freakiest lounge material. For our most recent trip I took the liberty of making the double CD Daddy/Daughter Secret Shame Hits and Misses 1969-1994 in order to compete with his Dads Gay Anthems Volumes 1 through 4. No, I’m not kidding – that what he calls them. It’s written on the case. I’ll let DGAs (as they are known in the industry) speak for themselves. On what other single compact disc could you find the gems ‘We Are the World’ and ‘This is it’ by Danni Minogue alongside Steve Winwood’s ‘Finer Things’ and ‘Theme to Lonesome Dove’? Today we could be spotted traveling at 110 kilometers and hour down the Hume singing ‘Absolutely Everybody’ (Dads Gay Anthems Vol. 2 - ‘Olympic Games themes’) whilst I dealt out stale lolly bananas to Dad at the rate of one per second. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house for the theme to ‘Same Time, Next Year’. Yes, this is truly a rare and special time for all of us.

Once we arrive, family traditions at my Uncle and Aunty’s house must be followed precisely. Sure – most of them revolve around drinking VB from the stubby because Nana and her flying monkeys can’t see us all the way over in Sydney – but they are still traditions and we adhere to them strictly. For instance, Dad likes to take his two beautiful robot daughters on at least one educational outing not directly related to the consumption of alcohol. Unfortunately we had a bit of a scare last year when Dad and I went to the Human Body exhibit at Homebush where there were totally like, these freaky plastic human corpses OR SOME SHIT, and they had like, I don’t know – some plastic dude cut up into what looked like chops or something, and this one guy like TOTALLY PASSED OUT RIGHT NEXT TO US and it was like really awkward…or some shit. After a scare like that, we reduced our alcohol free outing on this trip to quick visit to JB HIFI on Norton Street (though truth be told it probably wasn’t 100% alcohol free as I walked out red-faced with Baywatch Seasons 1 & 2 concealed in a brown paper bag under my arm). Other treasured Sydney traditions include the standard ladies vs. gents ‘Women in sport/September 11 was faked by CNN’ debate out on the decking, all while my wonderful Aunty Marilyn feeds us delicious cheese and pours me glass after glass of undoubtedly the best wine I get to drink all year.

One of my favourite food expeditions in Sydney is the Yum Cha at Marigold’s in Chinatown. Marigold’s is best place on earth to be yelled at by very angry, very efficient ladies pushing trays of delicious dumplingesque goodness. These women are awesome, and I faarking love it. My ability to spot something both deep-fried and pork filled from across a crowded restaurant has earned me the rank of chief food selector and randomiser. My question “Excuse me, what might be in those?” is usually answered with “PRAWN!!! PRAWN!!!” and a filthy impatient look as the waitress simultaneously put the plate on the table, cuts each piece in half, administers sauce and stamps our card in the space of 1.4 seconds. Truly awesome stuff.

As a long-suffering botanist with a penchant for rare conifers and total loss of hydraulic control, I do enjoy a leisurely stroll around the Sydney Botanic Gardens when I’m in the area. I indulged in this pleasure with glee this year and managed to sustain only first degree burns to small areas of my body thanks to Sun Of Earth’s close proximity to the ground in them there parts. My usual pilgrimage to the Wollemi pine was rudely interrupted by some pseudo-scientician posing as an expert on spiders webs, though with the threat of more fascinating lessons about “Australia’s living dinosaur tree” he was quick to disengage eye contact and swiftly moved on…

It is with a heavy heart that Dad and I took the long road home to Melbourne today, show tunes and accidentally stolen front door keys in hand. Every year our trip gets better and despite their persistence in showing sympathies towards Sydney Football Club, it is great to spend a few days every year living with Unkie Bob and Aunty Maz. Though all the pleasures of regular life* await me in Brunswick, I can’t help but think I’ve left something really great behind in the Ol’ Big Smoke. Oh that’s right…that green button that fell off my coat is in my handbag!


*Thesis cancer

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Waterslide Weekend 2008

Best... weekend... ever.

Amy has edited together the top 9 minutes and 11 seconds of our trip for your convenience.