There should be a system that allows us to collect credits for feeding Lou, which we can then apply to Dave and Bill and Steph.Dinner Party Debt - Readers' Digest, Australia
This is a community services announcement.
Being Australian and living in the U.S., I'm often asked questions about life in Australia. 85% of the questions revolve around the weather, the most common being, "What's the weather like in Australia?"
But occasionally I get deeper questions and it is such questions that, if I were a mathematician, I could plot as correlation frequencies, on a map - as there's a definite correlation between the type of questions, and geographical location of the questioner.
As I am mathematically-challenged, words will have to suffice.
The "geographically-south" questions are mostly about socialism. Actually, they aren't really questions. I categorize them as such as I answer them. They are really statements. Examples: "It must be DREADFUL to have been born in a socialist country." "Australians worship the Queen of England and pay taxes to Great Britain". "It must suck not being able to choose your own doctor."
As you go north, either north-east or north-west the questions become more interesting (as well as more grammatically correct). Examples: "Why do Australian women put up with the men there?" "Why do Australians travel so much?" "Do you have a president?"
I usually brush people off with a monosyllabic reply, which is, I suppose a bit rude. So now I will try to make amends.
A feature of middle-class life in Australia is the DINNER PARTY. If you visit Australia for any length of time, you will no doubt be invited to one.
An Australian dinner party consists of three to six couples, although singles are always welcome. It's drinks at 7:00 - 7:30 and the meal some time after. "Some time after" can mean anything from 8:00 p.m. to 11p.m. depending upon how much wine the hosts have drunk.
Once I went to a dinner party where the hostess went out to buy some ingredient she'd forgotten, and while out, actually FORGOT she was having a dinner party, and did not return for several hours, by which time her guests were so inebriated that they'd forgotten who she was. Things have a way of resolving themselves - amazing.
Australian dinner parties normally last three to four hours and take place around a table. There's no leaving the table after the food has been consumed - the last course is always very late as by the time mains are served, the hosts have begun to relax and are in no hurry to leave "THE DISCUSSION".
The "DISCUSSION" normally resolves upon some current affair (news) of the day, such as unemployment, illegal immigration, or U.S. politics. Usually the majority of the guests take one stand, and one couple will disagree. That's what makes it "fun".
If you are in the minority at a dinner party, prepare to be RIDICULED. You may even find yourself leaving, sobbing your way to the front door while the host stays put at the table saying, "how come I never realised X was so politically suss?"
Choose your dinner party with care - if you do not like being temporarily ostracized - I say "temporarily" as the ostracism never sticks - do not attend. However, if you are the odd one out, you will for sure be invited back again. After all, you contributed to the life of the party.
If you are a fence-sitter type be prepared for TROUBLE. People will point at you, ask you what you think. They will NOT take no for an answer.
It's best to have very firm views. Make them up as you go along. No one will care.
Of course you can always elect NOT to go to dinner parties. If that's your preference, then life will be like living in Manhattan, where there are no dinner parties to speak of.
I have lived in Manhattan for fifteen years and have been to only one dinner party. People in Manhattan don't do dinner parties.
The one dinner party I went to was ten years ago, and most of the invited guests had done the Manhattan thing of "cancelling". "Cancelling" is a GOOD THING in Manhattan, and much preferred to TURNING UP, as it shows you are BUSY.
Cancelling is NOT a GOOD THING in Australia. Turning up is mandatory.
Miscellaneous tips for attending Australian dinner parties
- Bring Jacob's Creek wine but don't let anyone see the label. Hide it in a dark place and forget about it
- Quickly survey the guests and work out who is "It". Stay away from that person and disagree with him/her at every opportunity
- Don't tell sexist jokes if women out number men. Otherwise it doesn't matter.
- Say you voted Labor in the last election.
- Admire the renovations even if they are non-existent
If all this is a bit much, prepare yourself by renting, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Lots of tips there!
So you can see, there's nothing to it.