I am probably going offend someone here, so this is my ‘offensive matter disclaimer’: if you live in the Western suburbs it does not mean that you are necessarily a ‘Westie’. Before you you go getting your knickers in a twist, there are many other qualities that make one a ‘Westie’ and in most cases, geography isn’t the determining factor.
I have recently gone home (Australia) for Christmas to visit my beloved family and friends, beaches, sun and surf. While there I had the pleasure of taking my younger sisters to ‘Wet ‘N Wild Water World’ in sunny QLD.
While there, I was confronted with more tattooed, sun burnt, Bintang singlet wearing yobbos dragging their 16 children around, swearing and smoking and making spectacles of themselves left, right and centre.
As we lined up for what was promised to be a ‘wet and wild’ experience, I noticed the over-powering (and extremely nauseating) scent of urine and wondered which generous human -being had offered us this gift. My next thought was the fact that I probably would avoid getting into a lift with most of the patrons joining us on this tubular ride, let alone jump in a small pool with them.
Living overseas, you can sometimes feel displaced or that you quite obviously don’t ‘fit in’. Coming home, you assume that you will feel as though you belong and most of the time, you do. However, on this day, in this special part of the world, I felt more out of place than I have ever felt even living in Asia. I felt that my lack of ink, failure to heed the Tiger Beer Singlet dress code and inability to scream at my younger sisters to “Get the f*ck outta the pool, before I come in there and belt yous” prevented me from feeling at home, at …well… home.
I do realise that my rantings have the potential to come across with a hint of snobbery, but it truly is difficult to explain my experience in any other way. Surely these theme park pilgrims are a minutia…surely they are only a small collection of people that do not make up the greater population of my beautiful sunburnt country?
I looked around and to my surprise, I spot a woman from my gym in Hong Kong. She is American and had told me that she was spending time in Australia for Christmas (spoken in a thick New Yorker accent: “Oh yeah, ill be taking the kids down the Australia for Christmas…we fly in Sydney then travel down the coast to Queensland.” I was pleased to see that she had done some research on her destination and was up to speed on the East Coast). What are the odds of her being there that day – at that place?
As I stand there, amazed at the apparent coincidence, an alarming thought crossed my mind; “Oh My God. This is what she is going to think that all Australian’s are like…the stereotypical ‘westie’ is out here in full force and the normal civilians are lying on a beach some where, NOT yelling at their kids like banshies, WITHOUT a face full of shrapnel, applying sunscreen liberally and NOT urinating in a queue because they can’t be bothered to find a toilet.”
Being a tourist and visiting some of the Gold Coast’s theme parks would be an unfortunate snap shot of a (hopefully not so) typical Aussie family and i’m not sure who should be more horrified; those of us Aussies with an iota of dignity or those visiting?
Being my youngest sisters 9th birthday, we were out to have as good a time as possible with many catch phrases being adopted to justify our changing behaviour; “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” or “When in Rome…” Anything to try and feel like we ‘belonged’. We applied spray on tattoo’s, wrote things in sunscreen on each others back – coz it’s funny, (I was fortunate enough to receive “I’m Sexy”, drink buckets of Coca-Cola and make sure our muffin-tops were hanging well over our cozzie bottoms with ample butt crack to compliment our look.
I wondered how the socio-economic level that is attracted to these theme parks on a regular basis (with offers like a yearly park pass – how could one refuse?), could afford it? As a family (2 adults, 3 kids) a few hours at Wet ‘n Wild amounted to well over $400AUD. And let me tell you – it just evaporates, disappears, vanishes…
One has to give kudos the team at Wet ‘n Wild and who ever is in charge of creating revenue …every which way you turn there is a money making scam; extra charges for some rides, $20AUD for a plastic hamburger and chips, spray on tattoos, hair braiding…you name it, they have it covered…and the pièce de résistance? The only way to exit the place is via the gift shop. You can only imagine how many screaming children there were on the way out, buggered from a full day in the sun and throwing tantrums bigger than Oprah, because they were not allowed the plethora of confectionary, toys and trinkets shoved in their faces on the way out. The poor 16 year old parents.
Don’t worry, I realise how cynical I sound, but really it wasn’t all that bad. The 1 hour queue for the 2 second slippery slide was a highlight and the strange rash on my leg that i discovered on the way home was well worth the minor adrenaline rush from the Black Hole (aptly named? Me thinks so).
On a serious note, seeing my sisters enjoy a day in the sun with all the westies was actually enjoyable and spending a 9th birthday with the baby was a memory made and kept!
Happy Birthday M and Happy New Year Westies!