|The Amazing Cake.|
And The Amazing Tracey.
The forest is being cut down all around our campus for upcoming city developments (boo!). During a leisurely walk through said woods to nose about more closely, I learned a record-breaking 3 new Australianisms in a single outing.
(a) As we stealthily approached the edge of the cutting zone, Tracey nervously noted that our “sticky beaks” might get us into trouble.
(b) Specifically, she was concerned that our hiking may elicit unwanted attention from nearby chainsaw men, one of whom was taking a break and “smoking a fag.” My goodness - I didn't know people actually said that aloud in this day and age.
(c) As she led us along one narrow path, she looked back and cautioned me against the “wait-a-whiles.” At first I assumed I misheard her, and then I was sure she was making things up. Alas! Later research confirmed that "wait-a-while" is ACTUALLY the name of a grabby vine named for its annoying habit of slowing down passing hikers. Now I want to plant one in the garden just so I can use that delightful name.
Later in the week, we stopped to chat with Canadian friend (and lettuce-growing fiend) John. Tracey, a rather conservative and careful woman, shocked us both by referring to a chat she’d had with the pastor on the “bitch-you-men.” Umm, the what? She said it again. John and I exchanged glances, wondering whether we were seeing a new side of Tracey. Indeed, this startling expression stopped all further conversation until she explain that Australians say "bitumen" (right out loud! in polite company!) to refer to a pavement (blacktop, or asphalt). Oh. Not nearly as exciting as it seemed.
In another conversation, Tracey asked me what I thought of a particular man's clothing style. "He's a bit of a boffin, don't you think?" What came immediately to my mind was a cross between a buffoon and a puffin, which didn't seem related to clothing whatsoever. Upon further inquiry, I learned that "boffin" is a old Brit term for science nerds (think computer geek). Interestingly, according to loyal assistant Google, this term is typically used today as an "affectionate term, but with some practical/fighting man’s scorn for the academic brain worker." Well, then. Yes, indeed. The man in question certainly exemplifies the style of a boffin.
Tracey and our Korean-American friend Grace (known also for gardening and other adventures) treated me to an amazing picnic lunch at a rural cafe overlooking a reservoir. While enjoying Tracey's made-from-scratch chocolate cake and commenting on the beauty of the day and reveling in the joy of our friendship (let's just say that the coffee shop served more than latte), Tracey sat back with a sigh and said, "This is the ants’ pants.” Grace and I burst out laughing with delight (and I might have clapped my hands like a toddler discovering fireflies). I guess the American version is just as silly (“the bees’ knees”) but still. I nearly choked on my delicious cake just imagining tiny insects in khakis, streaming across the outback.