Tag Archives: relationships

Beauty or Brains?

If someone can show me the full-amenity indoor bathroom and tell me the number to dial for turn-down service, this is the kind of camping I could get excited about.

My sister and I are about 8 years apart in age and we are vastly different beings.

I am older and wiser. (ie. I have more grey hair and love handles). She is blonde (with the help of a little Loreal) and I am brunette. She is short (5 foot even – though she claims 5′ 2″- and we all nod and smile encouragingly while rolling our eyes at each other behind her back), and I am tall(er) at 5′ 5″. I’m know I was 5′ 6″ at one point but I seem to have somehow shrunk over the years, and I have no idea where the inch went.

It’s generally agreed that she got the looks in the family and I got the brains. (By ‘generally agreed,’ I mean by me.)

My father and my mother seem to think she got both the looks and brains and I’ve just pretty much wasted my prime years perusing J Crew cataloges and visiting Anthropologie stores while mastering the complexities of social media and decorating houses. But what are parents for if not to blow their opinions off as senile and absurd? So that’s what I do.

Our grandmother won’t commit on subjects like these, she’s considered our family’s version of Switzerland and will probably take her true opinions with her to the grave, and I love her all the more for it.

Regardless, for the purpose of this post my sister is the pretty-but-sometimes-dense member of the family. With that in mind, I’d like to recount to you a conversation we had recently.

My sister rented a cabin in our town with some girlfriends and spent the week doing what young women do best; eating out, sleeping in, drinking cocktails and lying on the beach sun bathing. At the end of the week her friends left town she came to stay with us for the weekend, before heading back to her life in her own town a few hours away.

We went out to lunch together and were chatting about her week, when I asked her about the accommodations at the cabin. I am not a fan of any kind of camping – especially when it’s made to sound like it’s a more exclusive experience than camping – like when people call it a cabin but what they really mean is a tent with firmer walls.

To me, unless your cabin has a/c, cable TV, fancy soaps in the bathroom and daily maid service – it’s camping – and no fancy siding or stylish roof line will convince me otherwise.

We had started this discussion about how cabins were still roughing it (in my world) before she went on the trip, and she had tried to convince me of the luxurious level of these particular cabins, adding that they even had air conditioning! I have to be honest it had impressed me, so now I wanted to know what other luxuries were on offer that I didn’t know about.

I mentioned the a/c and asked how the stay was overall, her response went something like this:

The first day we got there there was a horrible smell in the cabin (just as I suspected – glammed up camping is still camping!) and there was no air conditioning or seaside views as had been promised in the photos when we booked, so we went up to the reception area and complained. They responded instantly, assuring us they would move us to a suitable replacement.

We went out that day and when we got back they had moved all our stuff for us into a nicer, more modern cabin, and it did have the a/c wall unit and the ocean views from the deck, so we were pleased.

We got changed and showered and decided to go out for the night and in preparation of our homecoming later, we turned on the a/c to full power to make sure the cabin was nice and cool when we got home and we were trying to sleep.

We got home many hours later (it was a big night!) about 3am, and the place was stinking hot and smelled of something burning!  We had to open the windows to let the hot summer night air in, just to be able to breathe comfortably.

We had seen a sign on the a/c unit asking us to never leave it on when we were out of the cabin, but we had ignored it, assuming it was a cost-saving measure. Now we were panicking, had we done something to the unit leaving it on for so long in our absence?

Had running it for so long unattended somehow overheated the unit? We didn’t want to get into trouble or have to pay for it, so we turned it off and sweltered our way through the rest of the week without mentioning it to the staff.”

The day we left when returning the keys, the guy at the front desk asked if our stay lived up to our expectations?

I made the comment that the a/c hadn’t worked for the entire stay and the guy looked at me with confusion. “we don’t have a/c in our cabins” he said.

I argued with him, “I saw it in the photos when booking online, and we definitely have one, it just wasn’t working.”

“I can assure you, none of our cabins come with a/c.” he responded. I started to get irritated, thinking that instead of offering an apology or some kind of refund, he was being difficult and rude. “Well, what do you call the big unit with the on/off switch on the wall that blows out air?” I retorted.

He looked at me with a huge grin. “I call it a heater. All our premier cabins come with those.” “Oh,” I said, “Well, that explains the burning smell…”

I know the guy at the desk was going to enjoy the memory for the rest of the afternoon, so humiliating!

This story sent me into gales and gales of laughter, because of course it proved my point. There is no such thing as luxury camping, or camping with amenities, and that’s why no one will ever get me out there.

Ever.

Even better, it proved my point that despite my parents obvious disappointment at my lack of achievements in life, I’m still the smarter one.

As an added benefit, I get to repeat this story to all her friends and future children over the coming decades – not to mention the blogosphere – and we can all have a chuckle at her expense. As a sibling, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Disclaimer: My sister has a very important job earning lots of money and by all accounts her boss thinks she is brilliant. Still, she’s my little sister, so to me she will never be allowed to be smarter than me – it’s simply not possible – right Beck? 😉

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Ode To My Husband (The Only Man In The World Who Would Have Me)

The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado

9 years ago today, we walked into a courthouse in Denver and eloped.

As we left, you with a lifetime of possibilities and me with my free goodie bag of Tupperware (a total 1950’s housewife gift, I was insulted and planned on writing a complaint letter. Like most of my planned complaint letters, it never materialized), I hoped I’d done the right thing.

The Day We Eloped - Ootober 18, 2002

A few months later with 80 of our friends and family, we officially tied the knot at the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel (and I was right, it was an improvement on a Mexican restaurant).

The roller coaster ride began, and it hasn’t slowed down since.

Our wedding day - January 2003

The first day of our honeymoon as we began our drive down the coast of Mexico, you impressed me by crushing a beer can on your forehead (splitting your head open when you used the wrong end – the one with the sharp edge).  I laughed for hours, and have rarely stopped laughing since.

I knew without question then, you were the boy for me.

As far back as our wedding day you were making me laugh

You have been the best sport as I laugh at you more often than with you (most often in blog posts that I share with the world), and as we incessantly argue the value of crap shows like Smallville and True Blood, your addiction to community Poker games, the necessity of me owning more than 50 pairs of shoes, why Channel and Chanel sunglasses really are not the same (despite appearances), and the inappropriateness of showing your kid how to use a whoopee cushion on unsuspecting guests.

We have come to an agreement that you may not criticize my country’s wacky city names, when your own has a place called Arkansas (Ar-Kansas) and yet, you pronounce it Are-Can-Saw. This one city name definitively established that whatever the subject matter, you have no case – and never will.

You now know that here in Australia, a napkin is not something you use to wipe your face at dinner but rather, a ladies sanitary item. (That was a humiliating lesson to learn, I know.)

We have established that we can raise a great kid, but have no clue how to raise a well-behaved dog.  We know how to run successful businesses, but cannot work in one together, we’re different in almost every way, but we’ll both stand up for what we believe in (even if the cost seems exorbitantly high), and we have learned together, the largest of sacrifices result in the greatest rewards.

Our badly-behaved, but adorable dog

We can live anywhere in the world together and have a good time (not always keeping on the right side of the law, and that’s OK, because most laws are overrated and antiquated anyway). We now know that a foreign drivers license and a confused expression will get you out of almost any tight fix.

You are a man with remarkable patience, and impressive tenacity. Your fortitude is great, and your resilience is admirable. You are the best father I know (even that man in Cracker Barrel thought so), and your ability to kill a bug in the middle of the night without your contact lenses (by sheer bionic-perception), is extraordinary!

You are the son with the integrity, the father with the most adoring son, and the husband with impeccable taste…

If you are ever unsure why you are with me, remember what you told that guy who asked you why you didn’t marry an American girl:

“ Because my wife can defend the honor of a family, confront a scam artist (and convince him to accept an appropriate consequence), make a meal, prove a doctor with a foreboding diagnosis wrong  – reclaiming the health of our child, run a business and keep a house. And she can do it all without carrying a gun, visiting a shrink or popping a Xanax. That’s why I married an Australian girl.”

It’s been a crazy ride, but one well-worth taking.

Happy Anniversary!

xxx

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You Say Tomato

You see allies, I see language barriers

My husband is American and I am Australian. Though one may be deceived into thinking this union is uncomplicated by social and language barriers, one would be very, very, wrong.

Despite both countries being English-speaking, we use many different phrases that mean very different things, and it has created more than a few unnecessary arguments between us.

Until last year, I was always the one considered weird and strange. I lived in the USA, and thus had to acclimate to the American way of things. I had to change the way I spoke and the phrases and slang I used, ensuring my American counterparts could understand me and that I would retain my sanity.

More recently, we moved our family to my home of Australia and it has provided me with many hours of entertainment watching my husband struggle with the language barrier, as I did in my first years in America.

Early on in his business he noted clients made reference to a guy, ‘Colorado Bob,’ and wondered who this other American was that frequented the same circles, seemed to always be around but was never actually spotted, and surprisingly, came from the very same state he did.

One fine day the realization hit that they were in fact, talking about him! Australians in their typical fashion, had decided to give him a nickname. The culture here is that you’ll get a nickname soon enough, whether you like or want a nickname is of no real consequence. You are given it – and this will be your new name forever and a day – so there’s no use arguing the point.

Given he moved from Colorado his nickname was prefaced by the state, and because no one could ever remember his actual name, ‘Bob’ became his new first name, and thus ‘Colorado Bob’ was born. He’s now gotten so used to it when doing business he will often say, “tell ‘em Colorado Bob came by!”

Now talk to me about integration and tell me it cant be done.

Other common nicknames you will find here are Shazza for Sharon, anyone with red hair may be nicknamed “Blue”(because that makes so much sense), or if they aren’t liked they often use the term “Ranga.” Incidentally, if someone calls you a bastard, it’s almost certainly a term of endearment – except when it’s not, and it’s assumed at the time you should know the difference – we’re fair and reasonable like that.

Far from us to be exclusionary, nicknames are not just reserved for people.

Afternoon is arvo, McDonald’s is Maccas, Acca Dacca is AC/DC (the band), anklebiter refers to a child, servo is service (gas)  station, and though not a nickname, I have to mention one of my favorites – the ever-whimsical ‘fairy floss’ – replacing the very ordinary and obvious ‘cotton candy’.

Cotton candy

Cotton candy may make logical sense, but fairy floss is so much more creative and everyone knows that Australians don’t make sense. (Image via Wikipedia)

We call the kitchen counter a bench here. I cannot tell you the countless times I have told hubby, “The keys/purse/water bottle etc. are on the bench.” Inevitably, I will find him outside in the garden searching on and around the bench for the offending missing item, when it is to be found lying quietly, and very obviously on our ‘counter’.

Last night we had a babysitter arrive. Hubby was talking with her as I was getting ready, and asked her what she’d been doing.

“I’ve been flat chat,” she said.

“Oh, I haven’t heard of that place…Flat Chat… is that where you work?” he responded.

She graciously suppressed her laughter, as she explained to him that the term means ‘busy.’ (Why say a simple word like ‘busy’ when you can jazz it up a little and call it ‘flat chat?’)

He has come home on more than one occasion looking confused and perplexed while trying to recount for me a conversation he had that day, so that I might possibly be able to ‘translate’ for him and he would know what the hell actually went on – while he was smiling and nodding like a bobble-head-doll – his go-to response to nearly everything that confuses him.

Possibly my favorite incident was him telling me he had been sent to see a man ‘Bernard’ about some work. Anyone that knows Australian’s, know we often talk fast and run our words together. This resulted in my husband hearing the man in question’s name as ‘Bertie’.

To be fair, though we would pronounce ‘Bernard’ as ‘Ber-ned‘, in the USA it would be pronounced ‘Ber-Naarrd’. So he could not have possibly correlated the two in such a fast exchange. He apparently asked the referring guy the man’s name twice, he was so unsure of what was said. He didn’t want to ask a third time and risk looking like a moron, so he didn’t.

‘Bertie’ it would be.

He walked to the appropriate department and asked for ‘Bertie’,’ as he explained to me later, “I mumbled the name, hoping they would understand what I meant, because I really wasn’t sure Bertie was correct either.”

Having them realize his confusion and be gracious about it was not going to happen in this lifetime. These are Australian men, ‘paying out’ on someone (laughing at them) is somewhat of a national pastime, and the new American guy would not be exempt from their mockery.

Bertie,” the guy said in a ‘Ernie and Bert’ style voice. “You’re looking for Bertie? Hey guys, Ernie here is looking for Bertie!” Laughter ensued all round when it was made clear who he was searching for, and how it all went so wrong. It was of course all in good fun, and to this day whenever he walks into this particular place of business someone always says in their best ‘Sesame Street’ voice, “Hi Bert!”

I can only imagine his pleasure.

My personal enjoyment has come from the term ‘serviette’ instead of ‘napkin’, which refers instead, to a lady’s sanitary item. This has understandably resulted in my husband getting more than a few odd looks, when he asks for one in a restaurant. (Though I will concede the times, they-are-a-changing, and more people are using this term in the cities.) His issues have come about primarily in our country town more often than the cities, where they are a little more forward and with-the-times.

I didn’t tell him for the first few weeks, it was just too much fun to watch.

Once I caved and confessed the actual meaning and thus the reason for the odd and distasteful looks he was receiving, the term ‘serviette’ became his new best friend. As a result, I imagine there are a lot less waiters on their breaks talking about the weird American dude and his penchant for ladies personal items to be supplied with his dinner. Sadly though, it’s not nearly as much fun for me.

His integration to this country became solidified, a few weeks ago at a local poker game in a pub.

Some guy called across the table and asked what part of Ireland he was from. He told me he hesitated at first – vaguely unsure of himself – before responding that he was not in fact from Ireland, but from the USA (a fact that would be obvious the moment he opened his mouth almost an hour before when the game started).

It was clear to me as he retold this story, that the guy was just being an ass.

“I waited a few minutes for the next hand to be dealt out” he continued.  “Then I cheerfully turned to the same guy and said, “So what part of New Zealand are YOU from?” The crowd broke up into gales of laughter and I was slapped on the back more than a few times.”

(Calling an Australian a New Zealander is akin to calling an American a Canadian or vice-versa. In other words, it’s not too appreciated at best, and insulting at worst. You can imagine how it was intended for our fellow poker player. Touch’e was the comment that came to mind.)

I looked at him in that moment with a kind of awe. “You’ve done it,” I said, “you’ve successfully become a real Australian in less than 2 years, all on your own! You’re like some kind of phenomenon.”

Call me crazy, but knowing what mineral we mine the most of, who the prime minister was in 1943 and how long our dingo fence is, shouldn’t be on the citizenship test. I don’t know the answer to these questions and I’m as ‘dinky-di-true-blue’ (Australian) as they come.

The test should instead be a melding of theory – Can you read and write English? Can you recite the lyrics word-for-word of Jimmy Barnes “Working Class Man?” – And the practical.

The practical can be a scenario just like this one. Pick up on the social cues and give as good as you get. If you fail, you are sent back home immediately, because if you weren’t, you would drown a slow and torturous social death, in the aftermath of your social confusion anyway.

We’re thoughtful like that.

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