"It was just so confronting," one of our Australian friends said. They use the word confronting a lot. I like it. They also call people spuds and refer to cans of beer as tinnies. There are a lot of good words they use. I can't think of any more at this moment, but I will.
My pilgrim accent amuses them and they ask me to repeat things often, which I don't mind doing. Maybe I'm vain. Yeah. Their bewilderment and fear in just talking about guns reveals how different our two cultures are. Good points to be made for both sides, I implore. They don't disagree.
We were sitting on the corner of George St. and Kerr St. drinking jugs (pitchers) of Stone Wood pale ale from Byron Bay. As I poured another pot (glass) of beer they asked me about common names in the States. They were especially interested in the name Craig.
"You say that name so funny. You say it like Cregg...it's Crayg," one of the girls remarked giddily.
"Crayguh," I repeated mockingly. "Maybe I should get some tahmahtoe or some bassil, eh?"
A few more jugs and it was time to get on the tram. The tramways are clean and efficient and useful, and it dropped us right at the steps of the football stadium. There is a Hungry Jack's (Burger King) that we used for the bathroom before going inside.
"We have to get sloppy meat pies. First one to drop theirs gets the first round." They all rejoiced at the game and meat pies to be had.
The meat pies are truly sloppy and comprised solely of meat. I imagine they are the equivalent of a hotdog at a baseball game. In fact, they are very similar to that.
"Don't you want any sauce for it?" one of the girls asked me as I began to walk away with a sauce-less meat pie.
"Sauce?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said, pointing to the ketchup and mustard.
"Ohhh, sauce. Yeah, sure," I answered, heading over to the saucing station. First bite and my tongue was fire-branded by the Melbourne meat pie. Ironic as it was beef (cow) that I was eating, or was it vengeance?
We find open seats up high and begin to drink. Australian football is not like rugby, as I first imagined. It's a combination of many sports, and it's apparent that whoever invented it was having themselves a good old time.
Funny you should ask. It was invented in Melbourne by Tom Wills as a sport to be played by cricketers in the winter time so they could stay fit -- although, that's disputed. It's unclear who actually invented the rules for the game. The first match, organized and umpired by Tom Wills, was played in 1858 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground by Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College.
There are four posts at opposite ends of the giant circular field, think Quidditch. The two middle posts are taller and more important, for if a player is able to kick the football through them it's considered a goal and worth six points. If a player kicks it through either of the spaces formed in conjunction with the outer posts, it's simply a one-pointer, not a goal.
There are four quarters and time is kept as it is in soccer, factoring in stoppage time. One quarter was thirty-two minutes, while another was only twenty-seven. At the end of a quarter, Blitzkrieg sirens sound and everyone either cheers or boos. All drink.
Passing the ball as done in the NFL is prohibited. Instead, one must punch or kick the ball, which can be d0ne in any direction. A player is allowed to run with the ball, but he or she must bounce it every ten steps or so. If a player is tackled to the ground with the ball in hand, it is turned over to the other team. For that reason, the game becomes reminiscent of "Hot Potato" during certain stretches.
In other regards, like when a player boots it upfield, the game is similar to "Three Flies Up". In this way, basketball skills of rebounding and post play are rather relatable.
The running and kicking are of the variety used by a soccer player. Hands for to catch the ball are like those one would find on an NFL player. The tackling, as well. The rapid changes of pace and advantage evoke the suddenness of a hockey game.
The atmosphere, stadium, and field are, I say again, that of a Quidditch match. The fervent drinking like the kind done in a hotel (pub).
It's a wonderful game and I was instantly a fan. However, the stars of the match are the umpires. Firstly, to initiate the game into play, the center umpire sonic booms the ball into the center circle, where it then bounces nearly twenty feet in the air and players from both teams jump to grab possession.
When the ball ventures out of play, the sideline umpire takes the ball, turns his or her back to the players on the field, and chucks it as high as they possibly can into play. Once again, players from both sides jump for possession.
They also throw double finger-shooting guns when a goal is scored. Bang bang.
I spent a lot of my time watching the umpires. A funny lot, them.
The Western Bulldogs, the club that won it all last year, and are, therefore, hated by many (Lakers), were trailing big after the conclusion of the first half. Their play kicked into high gear as the third quarter commenced, however. They got within one point before the North Melbourne Kangaroos rebutted and put one through the center uprights, advancing their lead back to seven. The Blitzkrieg sirens then sounded and we went out on the patio for a rolled cigarette, which was custom.
In a furious fourth quarter, the lead changing with every goal, the two teams fought hard. A Kangaroo had a shot to win it. A goal (six points) would have done it, but the boot sailed wide, garnering only one point. The final sirens then exploded. The Western Bulldogs won by three.
I then ate a parma (Australian chicken parmesan with ham and not parmesan cheese) at a local hotel (pub) and drank more beer.
Heading to the coast.
More later, spuds.