Recently someone asked me what were some of the silliest things people had ever asked me about Australia. I didn’t have to dig too deep for the most recent. A couple of weeks ago a lovely American (bolded because it is relevant to the story) friend had been imbibing some grown up beverages for several hours and came up with
‘If England settled Australia in the first place why don’t you all have British accents?’
I did VERY well for me, because he is really a lovely person and my reply was very restrained.
‘I’m just going to let you sit on that for a while .’
And walked away. Smirking.
Today I was reminded of the VERY best I have ever been asked, if not the best then definitely in the top three.
When I was 15 I went on a semi-exchange to Canada. What a semi-exchange is, because you’re all dying to know, is when you go for 5 months to live with your Aunt and Uncle in Canada and don’t have to miss a school year, because you go over summer and miss all your school holidays instead. My semi exchange is how I get all my winter street cred, because I did a winter in Saskatoon. A WINTER in Saskatoon, with temperatures hovering around -40 Celsius, which co-incidentally is -40 Fahrenheit, the magic moment where Fahrenheit makes sense before it doesn’t again, and announcements on the radio about small children and the elderly not going outside while I was trudging to school through the snow drifts. Anyway, that’s how I remember it and you’re not taking that away.
So in my Grade 11 history class we had a circle time where you could ask the Australian girl anything about Australia.
‘Do kangaroos just, you know, hop down the street?’
‘Are Olivia Newton John and Elton John brother and sister?’
Not sure how that is relevant.
‘How big is Ayers Rock?’
Do not know. (with all the shame of a 15 year old, none)
It went on and on, round and round and then the time was up. I was off the circle time hook.
After class in the hallway a couple of kids cornered me,
‘Umm, we have one more question’
‘ummm, you know the song by Men At Work?’
‘Well, umm, we were just wondering, umm, is a Vegemite sandwich a blow job?’
Can you please repeat that foreign teen who I do not know very well?
‘Well it says ‘He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich’. So what we thought was, that it was a, umm, blow job.’
No, it’s just a Vegemite sandwich.
Canada wins my friends.
What is the strangest question someone has ever asked you about your home country?