I definitely swapped wild for mild these past couple of days, with lunch up the coast in Ettalong on Sunday, followed by lunch on the coast in Sydney on Monday, culminating in lunch on the couch in my undies today. The first two days gave me a chance to people-watch, and the third day (today) a chance to reflect.
So far as I can tell, two distinct tribes have evolved along the eastern coast of this island nation. Young males of the northern tribe are slow-moving grunters, ill at ease unless immersed in salt water. They are a paunchy yet muscular breed who come in varying shades of brown, and are immediately distinguishable by their feet, which are splayed and flattened for maximum grip on a Pyzel Pinky shortboard yet retain the distinctive toe-notch of their southern cousins whereby the Havaianas are secured. Their body-art favours Southern Cross back-tattoos almost exclusively, and their thinking is as limited as their footwear options. According to the male grunter, shark belongs on a plate with beer-battered chips, and all these bloody foreigners should just f*ck right off back to where they came from. Which in many cases appears to be 100 kilometres south, in Sydney.
Young female grunters (gabblers) are nominally better off than their city-sisters, but only because brown skin and yellow hair are a byproduct of living in the north, and thus free. But like their urban cousins, they dress primarily to show off their tattoos, which are not free. Other than self-reminders of their children’s names (necessary because the coastal variegate are such prolific breeders) it’s not unusual to spot an expanse of skank-flank proclaiming the bearer to be a ‘pretty angle’ (origin somewhat oblique) or ‘carp diem’ which must have something to do with fishing. And while my Farsi is a little rusty, I’m not sure that روسپی، فاحشه means what the gabbler thinks it means.
A point of real difference between north and south is the identity-flux of the city dwellers when compared with the stable self-image of those living on the Central Coast. Whereas hipsters once roamed across Sydney like a bearded herd of cap-wearing Fairtrade certified coffee aficionados, the few that strayed north on the extreme leg of a charity bicycle event were met with suspicion and quietly strangled, thus limiting their spread outside suburbia. That’s not to say the hipsters are now all gone, but those who remain are bewildered and frightened. “It took me three years to grow this f*cking beard!” they wail, “What do you mean, hipster is dead?” Welcome to peak-beard.
With my BAC on the rise, I noted an interesting dynamic at work. Presumably as a mating-ritual precursor, females of the city species appear to have rejected the wussy metrosexuality of the now-passé hipster and have adopted ostensibly masculine characteristics such as short hair, aggressive body art, loud profanity and hard-drinking in an attempt maybe to
attract other women provoke men out of stereotypical male spaces into something new. It shocked me at first, but then the logic hit me. Women invade a male style they don’t like > men automatically move away from it. The trick for women is steering where men go to next.
Perhaps I caught a glimpse of the new male order in the rooftop bar of the Glenmore Hotel at The Rocks. The crowd chopped and changed as the afternoon progressed (or maybe that was the beer talking) but eventually it was a younger crowd of clean-cut guys in expensive brogues wearing slim-fitting shirts and tailored jeans, relaxing with a boutique beer and plate of fresh seafood, sleeves rolled up to expose a hint of tatt and sinewy forearms speaking of a daily regimen of hammer curls and decline triceps extensions. While it took me some time to work out who was batting for which team, when I had that sorted, it was easy. Us men, we’re so stupid.
In came the ladies, a succession of drab little hens who appeared to have dressed in whatever was on the floor when they woke up at noon after a hard night of loud profanity and hard-drinking. On goes the wrinkliest dress they can find, forget underwear because bras are symptomatic of the male patriarchy, just walk straight to the pub. That’s not to say the ladies weren’t attractive, some were, but the effort they were making was virtually zero. Very little make-up, very little jewellery, and no visible means of financial support whatsoever. Ding-ding! A succession of well-dressed males raced to the bar, and voila! The ladies’ lunch and beverages appear as if by magic.
In this respect, the girls up north are way ahead of this silly game. They are always dressed as if ready to rescue a Yorkshire Terrier from the jaws of a marauding bull shark. So what if they can’t land a bloke from the big smoke — a local tradie with his honest tree-lopper’s biceps and King Gee ensconced buttocks is probably all she wants anyway. What would a grunter do with one of these city chicks who goes into a booth white, and emerges orange? How long would their relationship last if she hassled him every time he put diesel into his ute? Similarly, a beach bunny from the Central Coast might be lots of bouncy fun for an ambitious young Sydney architect, for example, but how long before he gets sick of her calling him ‘mate’. And you get to avoid those ‘odd couple’ comments.
In the end, I remembered the lyrebird I saw last week in the bush. He was all alone, singing his heart out. I bet he was looking for a drab little hen on the off chance he might get to wave his pretty tail around and impress her. So a word on behalf of all those hard-working blokes out there: so what if our northern brother doesn’t have tail feathers, he sure can pick a wave. and maybe our southern tribesman doesn’t sing, but who gives a shit when he’s wearing a nice pair of cap-toed Oxfords by Tom Ford.