Around the World With a Vagabond

Basketball Star! September 30, 2010

Filed under: Basketball Star!,What Happened in Australia — christynichols @ 1:39 am
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The boyfriend keeps telling me to write something really happy about Australia, because all I seem to write about are bar fights and dumplings.


However, things are a little stagnant at the mo, what with the rain and the shortage of funds and the whole waiting-for-my-visa saga.


I spend most of my time with my dear friend Mac, working online, studying online, and generally living a cyber life until better times.  The only reminder that there still is a world around me is the occasional “thunk . . .thunk . . . thunk” that I can hear from outside.


The boyfriend’s sister happens to be a super-cool b-ball player, and when she’s home from uni, she livens up the place with her “thunk . . . thunk . . . thunking” with the ball out back. (Or is it “dunk . . . dunk . . . dunking”?)


Either way, her b-balling reminds me of when I was a basketball star, way, way, way long time ago in the land of England . . . . . . .

It my first term studying abroad in Sussex, and I momentarily found my athletic calling ….basketball! (This was before I discovered yoga.)


One evening, myself and two other chicks ventured into the school gym. Myself, my roommate Di and neighbor Jen decided to play a game with about 8 other guys.


Or actually, they were playing, and we three just jumped in and assigned ourselves to teams without really asking.  They let us, but I think really because they all liked to play with Di because she went to Basketball Camp and was really good, and Jen and I were with her, so it was like a package deal.


We played until midnight – but this was only the 2nd time I had ever actually played a proper game with teammates and rules.  The players were nice and threw me the ball anyway.


I took the ball and dribbled all the way down the courts, so excited to be moving with the ball in the game! But then I had to turn and dribble all the way back to the other end as I realized people were shouting, “wrong way!” at me.


For twenty minutes after that, I bobbed around the court and ran with the crowd and tried to pretend that I knew what was going on. I shouted encouragement, and understood when they ignored my shouts of “Over here!” and threw to someone else instead.


Finally, they threw me the ball again! Hurray!  I dribbled and ran along the side all the way down the court – no one was around me, and I was thinking “Alright! I can do it! I’m a basketball star!!”


I looked and following me on the other side of the court was Di all by herself so I became really excited and made a GREAT pass to her – forgetting for a moment that she was my roommate not my teammate. So then they got a point when she made a basket from the ball I threw her.


That’s ok.  I helped.


It’s at this point that I began to think I had sports ADD.   I kept forgetting to pay attention to what was going on. I would be with the players on the court and looking around, but not always following the ball. I was just looking around in general as everyone else ran back and forth.


Twice more they threw me the ball. Once it hit me in the shoulder, and once it bounced in front of me.  The unfortunate teammates of mine realized that they needed to get my attention before passing me the ball. So they started to call out my name when they were going to throw me the ball so I would know to stop and think “HEY! A basketball is being thrown AT MY HEAD! LOOK UP!” and I would look and I would catch it!


It was nice of them to be so considerate, but then as soon as the other team heard my team kindly call my name, my opponents all clobbered me at once and I would get scared and lose the ball.


To remedy this, my teammates then began doing “Christy fake-outs”. They would call my name and I would look up all excited because they still wanted to play with me, and the other team would head in my direction to try to steal the ball, but then my teammates would throw it to someone else instead of me!


That’s ok.  I was part of the plan.


But, through all of this confusion, I did manage to make some baskets and score some points.  FOUR of them!  The first time I was on the side of the basket up in the front corner and someone passed it to me, and they shouted, “Shoot!”


So I did, but at the same time my arms were shooting, my mouth was saying, “I can’t shoot!”  But I MADE IT ANYWAY!!! I was SO happy!  I said “YAY!!!” and they all said “YAY!!!” But I think they said it in a sarcastic Christy-is-retarded kind of way.


But that’s ok.  It was a positive cheer.


I can’t remember which team won. But I left the court feeling like a winner.


I don’t know how my teammates felt.  I’m sure they felt like winners too.


The Bar Fight September 4, 2010

Filed under: The Bar Fight,What Happened in Australia — christynichols @ 4:08 am
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So I was having a bad week. I was in a yucky mood because of, like 18 different frustrating things.  I was waiting in the train station bar placating myself with red wine, and hoping to avoid alienating Chris when he joined me later, he being the only person around who would actually feel sorry for me.


So there I sat in the bar, book and wine at the table, and I hear over the din of Beyonce songs some punk guy screaming and shouting at some punk girl. They were probably about 20.  You would call these kinds of people “chavs” in England; in America they would be “white trash.” I don’t know what they are called here.


These two began to shout and swear and actually push each other, but they did this as they were leaving.  Myself and a few other lone patrons of the busy station bar turned our heads and watched the shouting match move itself towards the sliding glass door and out onto the main walkway of Southern Cross Station.


Ok, breathing out, tension gone, we all returned to our drinks and books and conversations.


But the calm was not to last. The two punks in hoodies shouted and swore their way back into the bar and carried on, showing little regard to anyone else.


I was busy bitching out things and people in my head. I didn’t need these two idiots doing it out loud right next to me.


They had moved their rowdy quarrel behind me when over the swearing and over the Beyonce came this BOOMING voice:


“GET OUT!!!!!!!!!”




The guy punk responded in a string of low-key mangled obscenities.  I turned my head and looked back. The booming belonged to a large powerful-looking man in a heavy beige suit. He was either late fifties, maybe early sixties, and huge. Not fat. Just big.




. . . . .. . . . . String of mangled obscenities from young punk . . ..


“PISS OFF!!!,” yelled Mr. Booming Voice with his large arm pointing towards the exit. And with that, the large booming man stormed towards the skinny angry punk and grabbed the front of his hoodie.  If the punk had been wearing a shirt with a collar, I guess the booming man would have collared him.


The angry little punk writhed and tripped over his own feet as the booming man literally dragged this guy out of the bar and threw him onto the platform.


The punk did not know what to do.  His stance was defiant, and the small bag he had been carrying he threw to the ground.  So . . . . . I guess he threw down.  They stood there, facing off.  It was a face off.


It was so  . . . . . EXCITING!! Every head in the station bar was turned! It was young verses old, punk verses class, scrawny verses brawny…  It was going to come to blows!!!  We all watched through the glass as Mr. Booming Voice towered over the scrappy little hoodie.


But then, even though the mangled obscenities carried on and the booming voice overpowered the busy station noises, the confrontation seemed to stop. I think the punk only could stand there with the F-word as his weapon.  He had nothing.  The booming man came back in to finish his beer.


He all but received a standing ovation. The people in the bar around me thanked him, nodded a smile at him, and complimented him on his powerful voice and physical initiative to throw out troublemakers.  It was awesome!!


I wanted to give him a double thumbs up, but then I thought that was the kind of thing a loser would do, so I exchanged smiles with the older guy at the table next to me instead.


If this was the old west, Mr. Booming Voice, as he returned, would have pushed past the swinging saloon doors, dusted his trousers off, and returned the smoking barrel to his holster. Then the mustachioed bar owner would have slid a glass of whiskey down the wooden bar towards Mr. Booming Voice and give him the ol’ nod.  The piano player would break the silence and we all would get back to our poker. There’d be a dead man left in the street, probably, but hey.


People don’t take care of business that way anymore.  Bar fights are usually one piss-head fighting with another, and usually patrons want them both out. Where’s the fight for honor? For peace? Where’s the chivalry?


Maybe it’s barbaric, but what the booming voiced man did by dragging that punk out of the bar completely impressed me. He handled the situation with his bare hands, and restored peace to the bar!


A guy who can pull that off will always be a good guy in my book.