Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Easter in Oz, or The Melbourne Cup

The similarity of what 'we' think of as Easter and the Melbourne Cup are pretty obvious. Down under where things can seem so backwards, you watch the toilet flush to confirm that, Spring is in the air and that means women and now men (referred to as Metro-sexuals by the back home media) tend to dress to the Nines (although I see plenty of 10's everyday. Women, people! WOMEN! see previous post). I took a short train ride up North to look at a potential apartment (the horrors of apartment hunting in the Illawarra will soon follow) and noticed that dozens of great looking women (and so-called men) would get on at each stop and all just dressed up as if the Queen herself was going to grant them a personal audience. Young men is ties, and women with lace bows in their hair to match the lace in a feeble attempt to cover their ample bosoms (see another previous post...one of my favorites). It was as if there should've been a red carpet on the the train.

I didn't understand until I got back to the office and realized it was the coveted 'Melbourne Cup.' Which is like the Superbowl in our native land except its only for one state AND that state gets the day off work as it's IS considered a state holiday. Naturally in Australia, every bloke feels a kindred kinship to his fellow Aussies so tends to take the day off, too (along with the required day to recover after the day off).

In this spirit of kinsmanship, ALL other horse racetracks have parties to watch and celebrate the coveted Melbourne Cup. Everyone dresses up in their newest and finest. Fortunately, there are several races prior to 'the Big Event' so that everyone has time to be seen, drink, meet their friends, drink, meet new friends, drink and of course...DRINK! Actually this is much more civilized than our version which is go to church and if you want to drink, go up for communion several times until the Priest finally refers to you by your first name. Being raised Southern Baptist, I had a special name which I shouldn't repeat here and I never got any of the good stuff like those Catholics or Jews...Man! What I wouldn't give for a shot of Manichewicz when I was a kid. Ok, just joking. I'm joking!

So back to the Melbourne Cup...it really is a National Holiday. TV coverage is so rampant, you'd swear that an ex-President was discovered betting on the ponies. The local track does host an 'event' for the Cup. Most of the smart people do take the train down to the track to partake of the special day's activities. Unfortunately (except for us voyeurs) the train station is across the main highway from the track. By 5:00 when the track officials have finally had enough of these well dressed (often, formerly dressed) party goers, the kick them out to navigate the pedestrian signals across the highway and apparently quite a few people just stop to watch the entertainment as most have trouble staying with in the lines of the crosswalk or are carried by large, burly Aussies who probably don't remember carrying anyone or anything and wonder why their backs hurt the next day. In Sydney this year (again I go with Aussie pronunciation...'Yeeeyah!") an electrical problem stopped the trains from the racetrack there and party goers actually had to walk to another station! It was HELL according to one woman on the news. Since 99% wear high heels (so high, I think they're referred to as 'F... Me heels) they had to take them off and complain about their numb feet hurting. I'm sure that wasn't all that was numb.

I know that I probably make all of this seem silly, but really the entire country gets together to celebrate. Something we (or US) don't do nearly enough. Instead of getting dressed in the very best and going where? To church?! LMAO! No, they go out and see their friends and get drunk and have a great time (news at 11:00!). So who am I to judge? I'm not really, just making observations about how the Aussies live and enjoy life. Can we take a lesson?

Anyway, it is a phenomenon that is enjoyable to be a part of and I hope that I can still be flexible enough to fit in with these great people.

C'mon down! I am renting a place with a spare bedroom. It's definitely worth the trip and expense. In fact, the news mentioned that Oz came up #1 for places to live. I hope they don't tout this too much. Look what happened to Seattle when we were supposed to be the #1 place in the US to live! We attracted 'people' from SoCal and NY/New Jersey for 2 decades.

With that sour note, I hope I haven't bored you too much with a day at the races.

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