“The grass is always greener on the other side”, said someone many years ago.
“Well, take down the fence”, replied TLG.
Thursday afternoon before Easter, I stormed out of work, past the school gates declaring, ‘I hate this town and everyone in it’, then took off in a hire car in the general direction of Melbourne. I needed to see my friends. Well it wasn’t as dramatic as that, Olaf was there to get me and he had already hired the car days before. But still, I was free!
Yes, Melbourne is a fair way to drive. iPhone maps says 10 hours, 24 mins or alternate route, 12 hours, 35 mins. Of course, the scenic route was chosen and what meant to be a quick trip down and back resulted in 30 hours of driving time, six blueberry cheesecakes – found as an alternate option to a cheeseburger at McDonald’s – and lastly one happy, and one not so happy hitchhiker.
I’m sorry, but if you are a man, hitchhiking along a major highway, you will only get picked up if you are goodlooking. Let’s compare type A (pick-up-able) to type B (not pick-up-able). Type A is a tall, dark haired, handsome young man in a checkered and collared shirt with buttons. His car has broken down along the highway and he is carrying a petrol tank in one hand. He describes his car as an old Holden and doesn’t ask for one of your chicken nuggets. When you reach his car, it is a beautiful crimson, shiny piece of art from the sixties. Clean the drool up and let’s move on! Type B is of medium height, has blonde scraggly hair, a weathered face, as though the elements have beaten him in to old age in all the hours of hitchhiking he has done, and there are buttons on his shirt but they are the spare ones on the inside, as though he never had a mum to care for him to replace the ones that fell off the front. I know that type B definitly gains some sympathy, but remember this: he definitely would have asked you for a chicken nugget.
A quick stopover in the country means waking up in a dodgy motel that smells of beer and chinese; but taking a step outside in to the morining, leaves you almost winded when the fresh, esky-esque air, leaps down your throat, grabs your lungs and screams YOU ARE ALIVE, DAMMIT, YOU ARE ALIVE!!! It is refreshing and we become immersed in this feeling, becoming super happy and open to any oppurtunity that may arise. We decide to take multiple stops at SES Driver Reviver stations whenever they became available. By the time we have stopped at two, a thought starts to worm its way in to my mind, but I’m not wholly aware of it yet.
The SES people are friendly, we wish them a hapy Easter Friday in return for their accumulated directional knowledge, and we head on down the highway.
We are snaking our way through the valleys, we are an old steam train, racing the mountains to the horizon, we are an endless link of love and life from the coast, heading through the country and towards the great city. We feel lucky that we can drive and see so much in one day, and compare ourselves to the settlers and Aboriginal people who walked for miles from town to town way back in the day. We confess that we would have enjoyed that too, especially along the Murrumbidgee River, especially along the road to Gundagai.
“Garage Sale-let’s go!”
Olaf makes a last minute turn down a small street with no gutters and pulls the car up behind a ute.
“Ooh look at all of those dogs in the back, they are soooo cute”.
“Is that a fox?”
“Is it a pig?”
“Is that a pig hanging upside down from a metal rod in the back of the ute?”
“Is that dog licking the pig?”
“Is that dog ripping a bit of the pig’s stomach out and eating it?”
“Why aren’t the other dogs eating it?”
“Theyr’e all just standing there watching. They don’t even care”.
We get out of the car, starry eyed, looking as though we have just seen a car crash. When I look over and see the dogs’ owner, I finally am able to identify the thought that has been worming its way in to my head: we are in the country now.
“Well, what else is there to do on Easter Friday!” I joke, to the relief of all the locals hanging out in the street. Hysterical laughter cackles through the town but comes to an abrupt wisping halt before reaching the highway.
Olaf and I continue staring at the dog as it rips out this pig’s intestines. She is chewing them like toffee and smacking her lips with her tongue as she swallows. The other dogs still don’t seem to care.
We strike up a conversation with the owner and find out that the dog gorging itself on the pig has just had a litter of pups. The owner didn’t mind that she began the feast at her own leisure. The dogs don’t normally get to eat wild pig; the meat is sent to Germany. Apparently the Germans love the taste of wild pig but Australians won’t touch it.
After a quick look at the garage sale and a quick decision that we weren’t interested in buying these people’s old odd socks, we decided to value the garage sale in humour and experience.
“Don’t worry Tracie, the pig will come back to life on Monday, wearing sandals”.
I couldn’t help but think of the irony of seeing this pig sprawled out all Jesus-on-the-cross-like on Easter Friday. I am spiritual, not religious however I couldn’t help but sense some sort of pressure from society, telling me that this was wrong.
About an hour later, after being on the road again, Olaf and I decided to stop for a drink and some lunch. Our options were Subway and a Chinese restaurant. After walking back and forth across the highway several times, we decided upon Chinese, praising ourselves on our great decision making skills. A quick perusal of the menu, a silent but communal nod of the head, the waiter arriving at the table to take our order asking us:
‘What you like to order?”
“The pork”, we answered, in chorus.