Long Live the 60's

Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Friday, November 17, 2006

It occurred to me on our seventh day in New Zealand that I'd never met a New Zealander before this trip. I'd assumed that because New Zealand was in the same general area as Australia and that both nations spoke the same language that the people would be alike. I was very wrong.

We'd pulled into a trailer park around 3:00 p.m. During registration, the owner asked my name and I told him Drury.
"Christian?" he said with what I thought to be a joking smile.
"Catholic actually." I responded. "Not practicing, but certainly born and raised."
He looked at me as though I was from the moon, saying nothing.
"I think he wants to know your first name." Ellen helped.

We went into a major grocery store yesterday to buy a bottle of wine. While Ellen sought a fine New Zealand Shiraz, I wandered about until I stumbled upon the bread section. It was as large as any we have in Canada, but each and every loaf was one form or another of white wunderbrot, toast bread. The kind of bread that if you pinch a piece off and roll it between your fingers becomes a little wet greyish dough ball. It's been 40 years since we've had this kind of bread section in Canada. I remember, my parents had a grocery store. Then all the wild new types started to arrive. We began getting pumpernickels and ryes with caraway seeds. And then years later, the Italians came with their even stranger forms of bread. The transition took a long time, maybe ten years, but the new ones all but replaced wunderbrot.

A couple of mornings ago, Ellen and I sat in a cafe and watched in awe as a man spread copious amounts of packaged jam on two slices of toast. He happily devoured them before paying $6.00.

Radio stations play almost exclusively late 60's, early 70's tunes. But they're not the hits I remember. They're the not so well known tracks of Glen Campbell, Bobby Goldsboro and Neil Diamond. They also do a lot of well known artists' hits, sung by locals, I think. It seems as though they find a measure of comfort in a time gone by and have chosen to stay there.

This morning we stopped by a bookstore and looked at the joke greeting card section. Again, right out of the 60's, stuff you used to see in men's magazines from a repressed time. One showed a caricature of a naked five peckered man with a doctor standing in front of him.
"Strange, but as you can see doctor, I do have five willies." said the patient.
"Blimey, how do you fit them into your trousers?" replied the doctor.
All of the cards were lamely similar.

To a point, New Zealanders seem like a friendly lot. But it's an odd friendliness. They remind me, both men and women, of the Stepford wives. They're like computers that were programmed in the 60's. If you type in, or in this case say something with a letter or syllable out of place, the conversation goes wonky.

New Zealand is far more foreign than Lithuania, Latvia or even Russia. We've got four more days here and I'm frightened. I mustn't tell Ellen.
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