Saturday, July 3, 2010


I love this scene from They're a Weird Mob.

An Italian guy comes to Australia, and goes to a pub. He tries to order a drink, but it's difficult because he doesn't know the lingo. An Australian stranger helps him along.

It's a funny cultural type of thing. Sometimes we have to struggle to understand each other. It's not just a language thing, but there's customs as well.

The Australian character seems a bit ethnocentric. He seems to struggle with the fact that the whole world doesn't share his way of saying and doing things.

I think we've ALL been on both sides of the story...and it doesn't even have to be about different countries and cultures.

The story that comes to my mind is when I went out with my mom and sister when Jack was a baby. We got out of the car, and my childless sister immediately took out the WHOLE carseat from the car rather than just the carrier part. She undid the base which is a pain in the butt to get back in. My mom freaked out a bit. She couldn't understand how my sister could have made such a foolish mistake. My mom had spent enough time with her grandchildren to learn modern carseat procedure. To her, it was now common sense. When something becomes common sense to us, we forget sometimes that it's not common sense to everyone else.

I'm trying to remember if I've had any cultural misunderstandings with an Australian. The only one I can think of off hand is when a friend told me that he was in some type of mood. I forgot what he said. I assumed it meant he was in a BAD mood, but then later he told me it meant he was in a silly mood.

There's probably been other situations that I'm forgetting....

Sometimes I'll KNOW the right thing to say, but I forget. Once I meant to tell my friends that my other friend was very angry. I ended up saying she was pissed. In Australian, that would mean she's drunk. They knew what I meant, though, and I immediately recognized my mistake. We had actually been talking about the different meanings of pissed several minutes before.

Speaking of drinking.....

In the Italian/Australian movie scene, the Australian shouts the Italian guy a beer. Then he acts somewhat offended when the Italian doesn't do the same in return. He persuades the Italian to take the appropriate cultural action. The Italian guy protests at first because he doesn't want another drink himself. He wants to stop at one drink. At the same time, he wants to do what's expected of him. So then he asks if it's okay to buy someone a drink, but not drink one yourself. The Australian guy says that would be very insulting.

So I'm does the drinking stop? Well, I guess once they're even, maybe it stops. What if someone shouts you a third beer before you can protest? I don't expect you could refuse it. So then you have to shout the fourth round of beer. What if it goes on all night?

And what if you don't drink? What if someone shouts you a beer before you can tell them that? Would they be awfully offended if you say no thank you? Do most people ask before doing this shouting?

In the movie scene, would it have been okay if the Italian guy shouted a beer for the Australian, and a soda for himself? Would that be Kosher?

And what if two people go out.... One shouts the other a drink. Then they both decide they don't want anymore. Let's say they're going to a movie, and they don't want to keep getting up to pee. Can it be decided that the unshouter will shout the next time they go out?

Well, the answers to these questions all probably depend on who you're with. Some folks won't accept you unless you drink a LOT, and fully follow and understand Australian drinking etiquette. Others will be more tolerant.

This blogger has an entry on Aussie beer drinking etiquette. I'm not sure what is serious, and what's a joke.

One of the rules is to not accept a beer if you're not planning to do some shouting yourself. That makes sense, of course. So I guess what I'm confused about is whether you're asked before served. Is a beer just handed to you, or does someone ask first if you'd like one? If it's handed to you, how do you reject it?

I like point # 14. One's perceived beer drinking ability should not be in any way overshadowed by the frequency with which one visits the lavatory for urinary purposes. The idea is beer consumption, not beer retention. Although maybe the blogger said that because he's like me and has a weak bladder. I wonder if most Australian drinkers share his sentiment.

P.S-This other clip from They're a Weird Mob is lovely too. I wish I was as skilled at responding to ignorance and criticism.