Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Off to Fetch Essendon Bombers AFL Gear

There is hate, hate flowing within me today. Well – ok, not really. More like delight and joy, but still – that' s a lot like hate, yes?

Why, then, the hate? First, I must disclose that it is partially due to the unknown chase I had to embark upon today. You see, Lisa sent me to find an AFL store in downtown Melbourne, but as no such store exists within the city, this was a fruitless effort. One Melbourne information guide directed me to an information booth which sent me up an escalator to nowhere. Luckily I was able to find a burly bald man with tools and a ladder in his hands. Surely he could direct me in the right direction? Of course he could not. And upon checking his iPhone's GPS information, I was made aware that these stores existed only within malls in neighboring areas. None were within central Melbourne itself.

Ah, but I was told not to fear, for the “awe-dah-das” store (heaven forbid one should say “a-dee-duhs”) would have some gear. Sadly theirs was limited due to the World Cup push. Rebel Sports beside them had a few items, but none all that great.

Finally I was directed to F1 sports down on Elizabeth. This brings us to point the second.

Point the Second of reasons to hate – the amount of money I had to spend.

Now sure, I was off to find a woolen(ish) jacket that Lisa had, with the bombers crest on the back, and I was looking to drop one fifty on such a thing (it was a true thing of beauty!). BUT it turns out that this gear does not exist, nor does anyone who works anywhere know about it. Never mind that clearly she had one, and I had seen them for other teams as well. But no – I was told no such thing had ever existed. I can only assume they live within the unknown confines of the outer ring AFL stores. Now I was faced with a dilemma – get some gear, not what I was set out for, or leave with nothing.

Clearly I could not leave without anything, as getting these items back in Canada would be impossible, or terribly expensive at the least. And judging sizes over the internet is a game not to be played. However, when I found last years gear in clearance, it was no longer a simple choice of what one item do I want. Oh no.

There was a polo shirt but it had a pocket. The women and children's had no pocket, and I give them two thumbs up. But no, this was the best option. A good polo, short sleeves so I can wear it during the season back in my real world, where the game is played not during the cold winter, but rather the hot hot summer. And at twenty five dollars, what value. But wait – right as I was leaving, I gazed upon a track jacket. Well, September can be cold in Canada, and I may need to wear such a thing in support. Also, with such an arcane emblem on it, I could wear it with elitist pride during our winter. And for fifty dollars, really, that's not all that bad. With these two items I began to make my way to the cash, but – of course – I came upon a jersey (think European football, as I could never pull off these AFL guernseys, what with no sleeves. That would require months of weight training. This one was short sleeved, made from that material from which, you know, European jerseys are made from.) and really, for twenty five dollars, that too was good value.

I considered putting an item or two back, but knowing they exist, I would only regret such a choice. So perhaps they are not the on field gear, and perhaps they are not the latest issue, but as I will return to a world which knows very little of this sport, let alone what the Essendon Bombers wear on the pitch (field? green?) all will be well.

In related news, the mascot is a 'skeeter'?

So now, while I may have three new pieces of clothing – including a track jacket which I am quite in love with, and putting it on outside shocked me to discover what 'feeling warm' is like. While the cold may not bother me, I can't say I did not quite enjoy this warmth. I also feel that should I ever wear a whistle around my neck, I am now ready to yell at students and make them do push ups. Yes, while I may have three new fabulous pieces of clothing, I am without one hundred dollars.

But let us not stop the reasons to hate there, oh no. You see, wearing said jacket, with the logo, makes me feel like a fraud. While I will throw my allegiance behind the bombers, for all foreseeable future, it should be noted that I now need to learn the sport, and the team lest I am one of those who just pretends – like oh so many 'pretty girls' flaunting their pink and black Yankee's hats (or worse the pink and white ones, pony tails flowing freely), pretending that they know a thing about the game of baseball. Their pony tails be damned! Gear is for those who love sport. And gangs. Which is why you'll see many Toronto Blue Jays caps around America, despite no one following my home team.

So now I must research all, and without a video game to teach me (they are the best way to fully learn a sport, players, rules, plays, etc – thank you NHL 2002 by EA sports, and Triple Play Baseball '97.) I will have to research via highlights, and websites. Which would be fine if Australia didn't hate internet so much.

Standing conspicuously outside of cafes, and McDonald's with my laptop in hand – a think I don't remember setting upon since Edinburgh, some time ago – I was able to quickly check and send emails. I've already spent six dollar and fifty cents to use internet in this city, and that is far too much. Not when I am prepared with my very own wireless device. Still – one dollar fifty cents of that was used to make a phone call which led to my surfing, so I can't possibly be upset with that fantastic turn of events.

But no more!

I did manage to find a discount store selling shampoo of name brand quality quite cheap, and it was located beside a pancake store for which I had a two for one coupon. Oh the pancakes I ate! I laughed when I saw that for a mere five dollars (as if that is not a terrible terrible price – as I just obtained four pancakes and ice cream for five bucks) you could have maple syrup, “Imported from the North American region of Canada for the true Gourmet Connoisseur.”

With full belly, empty wallet, and heavy pack laden with laptop, I made my way back to the tram line, wandering through an alley full of beautiful graffiti the likes of which I'd not seen for far too long. After taking a picture or ten, I jumped back on the city circle tram – a free street car that surrounds the entire downtown district and makes urban exploration beautifully easy. The tram line not only takes you around the city but also plays a recording information you about what sights you are passing, and what places you may find of interest – it is not unlike those twenty dollar bus rides, save for it being, not twenty dollars, and on rails.

Back in my hostel I passed time listening to music. I've become quite fond of the Dodos, whom I saw back in Dresden half a year ago. Their song Undeclared off of Visiter has become somewhat of a favourite these passing days.

Making my way down to the tv room, I saw that the guy in there was in the middle of Blade Runner. All throughout Tokyo, one of my fellow travellers talked about visiting Shibuya East, where it would look like the dark techno future depicted in the movie. I don't know what drew him to that film, but after five minutes of watching I realized just why I'd not rewatched this film for so many years. It's boring, it's terrible, it's just pure pain. Two girls came in and then bailed on it. Even he who set it in motion bailed twenty minutes from the end, unable to put up with inanity. As for myself? Well it was twenty minutes until I was due to meet a girl – so what could I do but view?

Mercifully the credits began to scroll. On the street corner I stood one minute, two minutes, “BOTSWANNA!”


She who I'd not seen since parting ways in Zambia just after the transition into the new year was standing before me, arms wide for a reuniting hug. It didn't seem like that long had passed, standing there – but six months is time enough for all sorts of new experiences and changes, especially in my world. While I still feel the same as I did then, this version of myself has walked on all seven continents; he, back then had not. At that time I was limited to four.

We headed for the tram, which I was told would cost three dollars – but I need not pay, I could sneak on by and just claim tourist foolishness if called on it. This is not something I do. Horror stories I have heard from people who did not pay their fares, and I'd not once skipped paying this trip. One tram came and we just missed it. That one would have been too full to reach the ticket machine, excuse to avoid paying concession. The next? Empty. To the ticket machine – a full sized ticket machine you'd see at any train station, but awkwardly fit onto the tram – I travelled. “Out of Service.” Very well then, I would be saving three dollars, a fair price for riding in fear the next five minutes.

Once at her house, she provided me with free internets and began to cook. What a fantastic deal this was! Cannelloni was on order, and though she would claim other wise it was quite good. Some were crunchy, but very few. While she took the blame for this herself, it was truly the fault of the ready to bake noodles. These things never work out, and why they still exist on store shelves is beyond me. Even still only two out of half the oven pan crunched for me. She was less lucky in her selection. The key? Take from all over the pan, avoid potential hot spots. Mind you, in doing that, I left her with mysterious random sections too – just lucky I guess?

Ahh half a pan of food. This is wonderful eating at its best. Food – warm, wonderful, food.

And after, as well as during, we hung out on couches watching television. A normal every day moment that seemed so in tune with what I'd have been doing half a world away. I have decided that – while a terrible sitcom, Modern Family (families?) is a cute and acceptable show.

There was also a reality cooking show to be viewed. And finally, the first half of the New Zealand vs. Slovakia World Cup match.

You know, the more I think about New Zealand team names, maybe the All Whites isn't the best name to choose either? Surely the good people of South Africa have no problems with it, yeah?

Well fed, and brain properly rotted, I returned to my hostel, fully content in the way that only a full and happy belly can leave one. And leaving, I could only think about just how many reasons I have to come back to this country. Which only makes me think of how many others I think that way about.

There's a whole wide world out there, and I need to be everywhere at once.

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