Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)
TITLE: My Aussie Mate
By Glynis Becker
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It’s difficult to apologize to so many people at once. I wasn’t even exactly sure what the social protocol for that situation was. Do you defer to the elderly man with the tomato stain on a white Oxford shirt or the young woman rubbing her bruised leg and muttering to herself? I made an apology to both of them, then slunk sheepishly back to my seat.
I had to stifle a giggle when I looked at Ethan sitting next to my empty seat in row 6 holding his hands over his face and shaking his head. “Can’t I take you anywhere?” He grinned and stood up so I could slide in next to him.
“No, I guess not,” I laughed. But as his hand reached for mine, I suddenly got serious, which generally causes me to ramble. The words just started spilling out. “She’s going to think I’m a klutz, isn’t she? She’s going to think, ‘How could my son have chosen such an awkward American klutz? I mean, I already know that, but I don't want her to know that I think that...” I bit my lip.
Ethan put his hand under my chin and stated emphatically, “Shush, darling. Mum is going to love you. She’s going to take one look at you and say, ‘Now ain’t she a beaut?’” He always exaggerates that lovely accent with a Crocodile Hunter voice whenever he’s trying to make me smile. What a sucker I am for that accent. It always works.
I smiled back. “But what if I’m too ‘American’? I mean, does she think we’re all John Wayne and Dirty Harry? Or even worse, maybe she thinks we’re all Madonna and Paris Hilton!”
“I knew I never should have told you that my mum loves American films.” He sighed. “ What can I say to make you less nervous? ”
“Nothing.” I freed the hand he was holding and started chewing on the end of my index finger. He pulled it out of my mouth and set it in my lap.
“Look, love, we’re going to a different continent, not a different planet. I even made Mum promise she wouldn’t feed you kangaroo for at least a week.” He lowered his chin and stared in my eyes to make sure I got that it was a joke. When I didn’t say anything, he continued. “Why do you think I love America so much? Besides being near you, of course. Because it reminds me of home. Open spaces, freedom to roam wherever the wind carries you. Freedom to think and do and act. Australians might still bow to the Queen, but their independent streak is as wide as the Outback. We’ve overcome a lot of prejudice, racial issues and hatred, just like you have. Our histories may be far different, but I think the futures lay along the same path, God willing.” He picked up my left hand and turned my diamond ring—his diamond ring—around my finger. “Just like ours.”
Well, now how was I supposed to continue feeling nervous if he was going to be all sweet like that? He just ruined a perfectly good anxiety attack. Which was probably for the best, since I was sure that in my former level of panic, the next time I got up to use the restroom, I’d end up sitting in the lap of Mr. Seat 3C with his toupee in my hand.
Instead, with a calming breath and my Aussie “mate” by my side, I prayed that my foreign adventure would end with a fairy-tale wedding. They do have ‘happy ever after’ down here, don’t they?
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