Dating An Aussie? Here Are 17 Things You Should Know About Us First
Australians are awesome. Sure, we're weirdly specific about coffee, psychotically patriotic, especially when caught in other countries (the national sporting colors are green and gold, by the way), prone to getting weepy at Qantas ads, and peculiarly ignorant about the rules of baseball, but we're a pretty cool country. And while we're as full of weirdos, emotionally bizarre lunatics, and sleazes as any other country, we have an abject advantage in the dating pool: everybody automatically thinks dating an Australian is cool. Unfortunately, they're often quickly disillusioned and drawn into an argument about cricket.
All of these 17 pieces of knowledge are things I've had to teach my foreign partners. Aussies often don't realize how strange an obsession with skin cancer is, or why everybody keeps assuming we all love Kylie Minogue. (No, we do not. Does every American love Reba McEntire? Precisely.) But we're used to certain stuff, like people assuming we're surfing goddesses, or know all about how to commune with snakes.
If you find yourself dating an Aussie, these are things you are just going to have to accept. Or at least try to accommodate with as much grace as possible. (My husband still gives me dark looks and calls me a heathen when I order an Aussie burger with the lot. He will eventually be converted.)
1. There is not one Australian accent; there are many.
Much as you may not be able to tell apart a Sydneysider from a Melbournite, we can. (Particularly because Sydney and Melbourne have a hilarious rivalry going on, and if you're looking to date a resident from one city, you may have to pretend the other doesn't exist.) Hell, it's possible for Australians to tell which suburb you're from. Add to that the fact that a lot of us have lived and worked overseas, and it's a toss-up whether any of us sound similar at all.
2. We are much more scared of skin cancer than you are.
If you say idly that you have a suspicious mole, your Australian partner will be pouncing on it and measuring the sides with a ruler before you can say "melanoma". Chances are exceptionally high that we know or are related to somebody who's had some skin cancer — and there have been so many publicity campaigns about cancer prevention and awareness that we're probably mini-experts on mole diagnosis.
3. There is no such thing as "looking" Australian.
Australia had one of the biggest influxes of immigrants in world history after World War II. It's one of the reasons the food's so good — everybody lives there. So if you're surprised that we're not all six foot, blonde, tanned surfers, you're going to look like an idiot. (Also, many of us cannot surf. Not that we haven't tried.)
4. We will probably know more about sports than you do.
Even if we hate it, we've probably picked up enough knowledge from the communal national obsession that we can hold a decent conversation about swimming, cricket, rugby, or something else where Aussies excel. We'll probably also have weird nostalgia for athletes you have never heard of — with the exception of Ian Thorpe. You have heard of Ian Thorpe, yes?
5. Nobody believes American football is a proper sport, though.
Baseball's fine, but gridiron (aka American football)? Seriously, you guys have seen a game of rugby, right? Australian sport's lucky if it has rules, let alone the paddings, coverings, or medieval quilts your lot waltz around in. Tom Brady is, on a fundamental level, a pussy, and we are unlikely to be convinced otherwise without a considerable amount of brainwashing.
6. It is likely we'll be serious about coffee.
The current artisanal coffee craze currently taking your local cafe by storm and irritating the sh*t out of you? That originated in Melbourne, among Australian Italian immigrants. There's a reason so many good baristas are Australian. Even if we don't like coffee, we'll at least know what a flat white is — but chances are reasonable that we'll have opinions about roasts.
7. Do not insult lamingtons.
They are delicious and you will have them at every fancy occasion, and you have no say in this.
8. We have pineapple, beetroot, and fried egg on our burgers and we bloody like it.
I still have no idea why this is so disgusting to some people, but there it is: an antipodean burger, with the lot from New Zealand to Oz, involves pineapple, bacon, onion, egg, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. It's a stupendous combination and you should try it at least once in your life, but even if you don't, you're just going to have to live with it.
9. We will swear a lot.
Australia simply has a different standard about the rudeness of different swearwords. Things you wouldn't feel comfortable saying to your grandmother regularly turn up on our network news or in our Parliament. We don't have filthy mouths (well, some of us do), but it's likely we'll be a bit more relaxed about dropping four-letter words than other nationalities.
10. For some reason we all like Eurovision — don't question this.
Eurovision is an incredibly strange song contest and European tradition that, for some reason, has been utterly beloved by Australians for years. We all watched it late at night on SBS. We love it so much we managed to get our own contestant, despite being as far away from Europe as it's possible to be. It's strange, and several anthropology PhDs are probably being written about it, but it's just a thing. Accept it.
11. Nobody actually has a pet kangaroo or koala.
If we say we once had one, we're f*cking with you or making fun of your drunken friends. (Koalas, incidentally, have an incredibly high rate of syphilis and would make very poor pets.) Our wildlife stories will probably be a lot less benign — like that time a kookaburra bashed a snake to death on my terrace, or the summer a possum drowned in my pool.
12. Steve Irwin was not popular in Australia.
Irwin was basically packaged as an American export. I'm glad you liked him! I'm sure he was a very nice man! But he wasn't the sensation in Oz that he was in the U.S., so we may not have many opinions about him if you bring him up. And no, we have likely never touched a crocodile.
13. We will likely know more about Asian cuisine than you.
Australian Asian food is the best. You can't get away with taking us to some sh*tty Chinese joint with gloopy, violent-orange sweet and sour sauce and think we'll be impressed. This edict stretches to most kinds of cuisine: the immigrant community means that we've probably tasted it before it even reached your city in its street-food van.
14. We do not care about your so-called "spiders".
Unless they're the size of your hand and can literally eat birds, I personally don't even think they count. Actually, this one isn't entirely true: many Aussies will still be scared of spiders, even if they're tiny, because we've been conditioned to believe that they can all kill us. Because where we come from, hey, they basically can.
15. There is a difference between the bush and the Outback.
This is a lexical distinction that will definitely matter if you're dating anybody from a rural area of Australia. "The bush" is any vacant area beyond the outskirts of a city or populated place, and "the Outback" is deep central Australia, the bit with red deserts and giant inexplicable rocks. Don't mix them up or you'll sound like a doofus.
16. We do not say "shrimp".
We say "prawn". For us, shrimp are incredibly tiny sea creatures who are either imported or used as bait. The thing you barbecue, with the wavy legs and delicious white flesh? That's definitely a prawn.
17. We likely know how to run a barbecue, so get out of the way.
Here's another secret, though: charcoal barbecues aren't often our style. It's likely that we actually had standing, permanent barbecues in our back yards, run by gas cylinders. Give us coal and a fire lighter and we may just look abjectly confused. Consider it the hazardous by-product of a months-long barbecue season.
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