Monday, March 21, 2011

romeo, romeo

I moved to Australia under the vaguely mistaken notion that all the guys surfed, which of course also meant they'd be tanned, athletic and jumping out of their skins to meet me.

It turns out they aren't.

While in general they do have the advertised accents, I want my money back on the hot surfer front.  You have no idea how many guys I've met here who don't surf at all.  Go figure.

Not only do they not surf, they don't tend to leave home until they're 25.  You think I'm joking.  I wish I were.

Their more serious failing, though, is on account of chivalry.  The jokes are a bit too crude to reiterate, but they tend to point to either guys valuing their friends far above their girlfriends or being utterly un-gentlemanly.

Wait, here's one that'll do:  Okay, so there's this Australian couple, Bruce and Sheila.  Shelia doesn't come home one night and Bruce suspects her of cheating on him one night so he calls her ten closest girlfriends to see if she's staying with any of them, but none of them have seen her.  A couple weeks later, Bruce doesn't come home one night and Sheila suspects him of cheating on her.  So, she calls his ten best mates to see if he's staying with any of them.  Eight of them insist he spent the night at theirs, and two claim he's still there.

You see, the Australian women really do seem forced to put up with a lot -- they are strong, but presumably out of necessity.

Aside from a couple quick dates (where I will admit to being both picked up and paid for -- in the most chivalrous sense of each phrase), the only guys I've gone out with here are Latin Americans.  And man, when I end up leaving Australia, I am so moving to Brazil.

And not for the soccer.

I've previously asked here whether "Australian gentleman" is an oxymoron -- and, frankly, I'm inclined to say it is.  Oh, I'm not saying there aren't gentlemen here -- there are at least three, they just all happen to be married to my American girlfriends.

One, in fact, used to be in the navy wherein, his wife confided to me, they actually teach the men how to be chivalrous and hold a conversation.  He is quite ept on the conversation front, so I can only imagine there must be other sailors who are reasonably articulate as well.

May I just point out that irony?  The sailors are the classiest guys down under.  Surely that's saying something.

What is it that they do that's so dreadful?  Well, it's not really what they do do -- unless you count excessive drinking, smoking and swearing -- it's more what they don't do.  They're tough, rough and ready sorts who are reasonably likely to bring home the bacon -- then BBQ it, eat it with their bare hands then leave to go drinking with their mates while watching rugby at the pub.

Sorry, that's a bit harsh.  They're unlikely to actually eat with bare hands.

No, really, I think many Australian guys do have their hearts in the right places (aside from total depravity, etc.), but just lack the romance around the edges.  I don't know if it's the convict roots, the harsh climate in the Outback or something else, but gallant and amorous aren't the first words that come to mind when I think of Australian men.

Australian girls, for their part, are also a bit edgier than your typical dainty maidens.  I'm convinced it's a direct response to the male behavior they typically encounter, though.  What else can they do when their boyfriends would rather guzzle Guinness than hang out with them?  Perhaps that's why they travel so much.

It's really not so much bravado or macho-ism in the men as much as rough and readiness.  Historically at least these guys have been up against some tough lots in life and wooing couldn't have been a top priority when survival was also at stake.  (Arguably.  How will the race survive if they don't occasionally woo women?)

And, to be fair, I might just mention that not all Australian guys are neanderthal-like beings.  There are plenty that have emigrated from Latin America.


Crazyjedidiah said...

That's way harsh! You must obviously just move in the wrong circles. I have lived my whole life in Australia and I know plenty of guys who grew up here who are chivalrous and gentlemanly.

Crazyjedidiah said...

That's way harsh. Maybe you just move in the wrong circles. I have lived in Australia my whole life and all the guys that I know that are born and bred in Australia are chivalrous and gentlemanly.

Laetitia :-) said...

I'm reminded of the "Mr Show Boy" (Bachelor of the year) contest held at the Walgett Show one year.

As a bit of background, there was a fancy police station that had recently been built in the wrong town because it had a similar name to the place it was meant to go. Since I can't remember the names of the towns and where it ended up was a "blink and you miss it" place about an hour's drive from Walgett, I'll call the town where it was built "Blink". I think the winning bachelor was a police officer.

The guys had to answer assorted questions. His winning answer to, "How far would you go on a first date?" was "Oh, ah, Blink."

And no, our blokes aren't known for excessively courtly behaviour; they'd probably get decked by most Aussie girls if they tried. We're a nation of people who think that being capable and independent are virtues and expect that everyone else will want to be seen as the same.

That said, occasionally you'll come across a man who doesn't think it unseemly to pay the entire bill; most girls will be suspicious that he's after something more than dinner and a movie. So if your Christian male friends expect that you will want to pay your own way and not necessarily offer to pay, they are actually treating you with respect.

Peter Craig said...

Nice blog, Kim! As an Aussie of a certain vintage, and perhaps, therefore, the product of a more chivalrous time, I must protest that some of us, at least still open doors for ladies and end enjoy the pleasure of paying for dinner (no strings attached), That said, I am indeed bemused by modern Australian etiquette.