Heidi and I watched The Bachelor finale, then looked at each other wordlessly as the credits rolled.
“Right!” she exclaimed as she leaped up. “Looks like we’re not gonna make it to the laser light show, so it’s time to watch that Aussie slang video I’ve been meaning to show you.”
We watched two Aussie guys rattle off slang, like:
Sweet pots—sweet potatoes
Spag bol—spaghetti Bolognese
“I noticed one of your Lebanese coworkers referred to herself as a Leb—would it be okay for you, as a non-Leb, to use that term?” I queried Heidi.
“Hmmm…it could have a negative connotation … I think Leb is worse than Lebo, but personally I would avoid both just to be on the safe side.”
“And do you call Aboriginals Abos?”
“No!” Heidi said emphatically, as if I had used the N word.
“We make up new ones all the time,” she looked at the list of abbreviations I was compiling. “We call the PM Sco Mo.” Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
There were other Aussie slang bits I learned later, on my own, like that a squatter is not someone illegally taking over a property, but a property owner, and a bush ranger is not a forest ranger, but an outlaw.
Our convo (see how I did that?) pivoted to some old TV shows that had been on in the UK during our time there.
“I saw Jonah from Tonga in Scotland late one night,” I said. “It was so shocking—the most politically-incorrect show I’ve ever seen. I thought maybe I was having a dream.”
Jonah from Tonga—in which 40-year-old white Australian comedian Chris Lilley plays a 14-year-old Tongan boy, in brown face.
I continued. “If you replaced Tongans with Native Americans or African Americans and showed it in the US, the stereotypes would have people rioting in the streets, demanding it be axed. The F bombs alone would make sure it would never air.
“That said, I thought it was really funny—maybe in a ‘Borat, I’m so shocked I’m having a knee-jerk laugh reaction kind of way.’”
“You should watch his first show, Summer Heights High,” suggested Heidi. “Chris Lilley plays Jonah, and a gay drama teacher, and a posh exchange student from a private girls’ school, and it’s hilarious.”
As it happened, the next show after The Bachelor was Black Comedy, a sketch show written and performed by Australian people of color. It was clever, but not shocking or side-splitting. Maybe I was too tired to appreciate it.
At brekky the next morning we talked about dating. We’d both received much unsolicited and often conflicting advice from well-meaning people:
You’re trying too hard. When you stop looking, He will appear (He, always pronounced as if the “he” in question is God)
You’re not trying hard enough. You should try (fill in the blank) speed dating, shopping at the most expensive grocery store in town, late at night, in heels; hanging out in coffee shops/libraries/sporting events/hardware stores; trying dating apps/sites, etc.
You’re too picky.
You’re not picky enough.
Don’t try to be funny. Men don’t like women to upstage them.
Men love women who make them laugh, so act cheerful and tell jokes.
Once you resolve all your issues, He will appear! (Some of the most f-d up people I know are married.)
Find someone who has similar issues to yours so you understand each other.
You travel too much. You should stay put so you’ll meet someone local.
You should go work in a refugee camp so you can meet a doctor.
You’re young looking and acting, so date younger men.
Men are only interested in younger women, so date older men.
Take up snowmobiling, even though you aren’t into it.
Pursue your own interests so you’ll meet men you have things in common with.
Maybe, unconsciously, you don’t really want to meet someone.
“I hate that one,” I said to Heidi as we got up to leave, “Still, it could happen—you could turn a corner and bump into Mr. Right.”
And just as we turned the corner there stood one of Heidi’s 17-year-old students.