“Hello! How are you?”
“Well, I’m just not feeling crash hot.”
“Not feeling what?”
“You know, I’m just not feeling crash hot. I don’t feel great. You don’t say that?”
“Look, Michael! We got a Christmas tree delivered today and it was full of ladybugs, a dozen or so. They call them ladybirds here, don’t they G? What a sweet name for such a cute little beetle. What’s wrong?”
“Was there anything else in the tree?”
“I don’t think so. I mean, I didn’t really look. The ladybugs-birds, just flew out.”
“Don’t forget we’re in Australia now. I’ll just take the tree outside onto the terrace and give it a good check.”
“Ok, but I’m sure the Christmas tree farm wouldn’t do very well if it delivered trees full of venomous spiders.”
45 minutes later:
“Ok,” a red faced Michael puffs, “I pulled out about ten little spiders and several egg sacks. I googled to see what they are, nothing dangerous.”
Three days later:
“Michael. This tree has just completely up and died. We’ve only had it for three days. I think we should see if we can get another one.”
“More ladybirds, PaPa!”
The next day:
“The new tree is here!”
“Wait,” Michael says, “just take it straight to the terrace.”
An hour and a half later:
“Ok. Only a few ladybirds in this one pal. There were also a few of those spiders and egg sacks and a couple of these weird pincer bugs…but I think I got them all.”
The next day:
“The tree looks so pretty doesn’t it? I think I’ll just move the tree skirt around a bit before we put presents underneath.”
I scream as I pull out the skirt and dozens of long bugs with little pincers come flying out from underneath.
“Wait! Wait!” Michael yells, “Let me get something to catch them in!”
“What are they, Michael? G, honey, it’s ok, just stay over there. They look like earwigs!”
“Earwigs? What’s an earwig? Don’t worry buddy! We’ll get em!” Michael says as he dives, tupperware in hand to stop the creepy crawlies as they dart all over the room.
“There’s one over here!” yells G.
An hour later:
“Hi, yes. This is Michael…
“Yes, you delivered a tree here earlier today…
“Yes that’s right, it’s our second tree…
“Well, it’s lovely, but it seems to be full of earwigs…
“Well yes, we looked them up online so we know they are harmless, it’s just, well, it’s just earwigs aren’t really very enchanting and Christmasy…
“Yes, I understand you don’t use pesticides…
“OK. We’ll keep you posted. Thank you.”
“Well,” I ask, “what did they say?”
“They’ll bring us another tree, or I can go now to get an insect spray and they’ll be gone in a day.”
“Let’s just get another tree.”
“Filled with what this time? Dingos? I’m going to get some bug spray. Let’s quit while we’re ahead.”
“See you in the arvo.”
“In the what?”
“In the arvo, when we pick up the kids.”
“Is that what you pick them up in? An arvo?”
“Nooooo! The afternoon! You know, I’ll see you in the afternoon. See you in the arvo. You don’t say that?”
“This can’t be right,’ I mutter to Michael, “I just poured 3L of milk into this porridge. It can’t possibly all boil off in 20 minutes can it? Did I convert it wrong?”
“Wait, what are you trying to do?”
“I’m trying to make this black rice and quinoa porridge from the Blue
Ducks cookbook, I got all the ingredients yesterday but it says here to add 3L of milk. That’s this whole container!”
“Are you sure it says 3L? That looks like a gallon of milk? How much rice and quinoa did you put in?”
“A half cup each.”
‘That has to be a misprint.”
“It’s not a misprint. This is a gorgeous book from one of the best restaurants in Sydney. They’re not going to misprint 3L of milk.”
“Maybe they meant 3ml.”
“3ml of milk?? That’s like half a teaspoon!”
“But 3L makes sense to you? I hate to tell you this, but your handsome surfer friends over at Bronte beach made a misprint. Why don’t you google it. I’m sure someone else came across the same problem.”
Michael walks over to assess the crumbling possibility breakfast will be ready any time soon.
He bursts out laughing, “This is a pot of milk!”
“I know,” I snort out through giggles, “it has to be right though…I’m just sure it will cook down.”
“If you boil it for 6 years maybe! I’ll start on some eggs and the next time we’re at the Ducks we’ll ask them,” Michael offers.
A week later:
“So we tried to make this porridge and the book says we were supposed to use 3L of milk,” Michael says to the very chill, blonde waiter at our table.
“Whoa. That doesn’t sound right.”
He looks at us.
We look back at him.
A dingo howls in the distance.
“I’ll ask in the kitchen,” he finally offers.
When he returns he says, “Yeah, they say in the kitchen it could be 30ml or maybe 300ml. Just eyeball it and see what works.”
You see what just happened right?
In the US if there was a misprint of that size, let’s say in one of Martha Stewart’s cookbooks, I would have been able to sue Martha Stewart Inc. for free milk for the rest of my life. The people responsible for the misprint would be sent to a desert island and Martha Stewart herself would watch them fight to the death over one of her salted caramel cupcakes.
Here, in Australia…
“Hey, some lady tried to make the porridge from our book and she poured in 3L of milk…
“Yeah, that’s what I said, but that’s what’s printed in the book…
“Yeah, it is a misprint, but she just poured it in anyway…
“Yeah, she did seem kind of uptight, she’s from the states. Let’s hit the surf.”
“How’re you going?”
“Um, I’m going by foot, or I mean, it’s going well, life is going well, thank you for asking. I mean, I’m sorry. What was the question?”
“How’re you going? You know, like how’s your day? How’re you going? You don’t say that?”
Please enjoy this series of text messages I sent to Michael while he was at work. I don’t really recall writing them as I was in a state of shock.
This last message I sent from the kitchen as I tried to find safety under a dish towel. That’s right. I ran screaming into the kitchen and tried to put a dish towel over my head while this terrified man tried to kill the bug. To be clear, he was terrified of me.
“Oh yeah, she’s a real rang-a (pronounced rang-uh)!”
“A rang-a? What’s that?”
“A rang-a. You know, when someone has red hair, they’re a rang-a. Like an orangutan. You don’t say that?”
“My niece couldn’t say uncle. So she called him unco Tim.”
“Oh, that’s so cute.”
“Yeah, but we kind of felt bad.”
“Well, you know, unco means uncoordinated and she called him unco Tim. What? You don’t say that?”
1. Would you like some brekky?
2. Are you ready for kindy?
3. Grab your togs.
4. Those mozzies really got you!
5. My brother’s a muso.
6. Are you joining him in Melbs?
7. That was a bit of a dog’s breakfast.
8. Fair dinkum.
9. Yeah, they’re in Shangers.
10. We’ll just pick up a chooka.
11. Oh yeah, he really stacked it!
I really wish all the insect, language and measurement mishaps made us dislike Australia, but really it’s the planet’s best kept secret. Please read In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. He explains this juxtaposition so well and makes you laugh until you pee.