Choice

One of my favourite words is choice. Not as in, “you have a choice between red or purple.” Not as in, “choice apples! 50c a kilo!” But rather choice as in “choice, bro.”

The first time I heard the word choice being used with this meaning was in 1984. One day one of the bad-arse Maori boys, who knew all the rad breakdancing moves, started saying it. At first I thought he was saying “Joyce” (who’s Joyce?), but as soon as I figured out that it was choice, I too started describing things as being choice.

Any good Kiwi slangtionary will have choice amongst its list. Various synonyms are given to help define it. Words such as excellent, nice, cool, awesome, and very good are usually suggested, but none of them really define the true spirit that choiceness is. The meaning of choice is a classic example of, “if you have to ask, you’ll never know.” Choice is choice.

Choice is really part of life as a New Zealander. It’s almost like it’s part of the genetic make up. Almost that you can’t help say it, and sometimes you say it and you’re not even aware of it. I found these two examples of the ingrained effect of choice.

This is from a discussion on benbrown.com, where someone had accused Ben of fabricating a discussion between him and Ani:

KMB: I don’t know if Ani (a Kiwi) would really say “Swell!” Maybe “neat!” or “choice!”, but “swell”?

animoller: Hahahaha, you people are morons. Of course he didn’t fake it. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard all day. I do say swell. I do not say “choice”.

benbrown: You do so say “choice!”

dakota: Yeah, I’ll have to side with Ben. You say choice.

And this is from deangray.org, where he describes doing a skydive:

Before I could gather my bearings or muster my senses back into order, my instructor carefully pulled the goggles from my eyes.

My instructor: “How was that?”
Me: “It was.. uh.. choice.”

“Choice” was the only superlative my brain and mouth could manage at that particular point.

See? Choice is there, whether you like it or not. Choiceness flows through your veins, it is in the air that you breathe! Choice is everywhere.

But there have been times where I’ve felt self-conscious about saying choice a lot. I’ve tried to stop, but somehow it just wasn’t possible.

So I eventually realised that choice is part of me and my cultural heritage. I don’t have folk dancing, weaving or pottery to define who I am culturally, but I have choice and all its associated choiceness. Yes, choice is choice.

Rugby

Someone posted this in a local newsgroup:

If only I was one of those many Kiwi’s in the crowd at todays game! Good on ya “All Blacks”! Making us proud once again! And not to mention our “Lomu”!!!! Making once again – a superb try! The strength in that guy is amazing! Hell, I am on cloud nine right now! Its 6.30am – but to hell with it – I’m gonna celebrate with a beer!!!

Reading between the excess quote marks and exclamation marks, what the poster was pissing their pants with joy about is that the New Zealand rugby team beat the English rugby team in a match.

This is apparently a big deal. So much so that people are meant to be very excited about it and say things like “Mate, did you see the rugby! We totally kicked England’s arse!” to which one is to respond, “Maate!”

Ok cool, but don’t drag me into it.

I tried to like rugby. For about a week I put in a concentrated effort and attempted to be a rugby fan. I watched the beginning of a game, y’know, all the pre-match stuff where they had interviews with the team members (disturbingly enough all wearing the same shirt). Then the game started and I found myself looking at a bunch of guys running around on a field of grass.

That’s the thing, when I look at a game of rugby, it has no form or structure for me. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s some guys and a ball. Sometimes they kick it, sometimes they pass it and other times they run with it. Sometimes they do something and the crowd gets very excited and cheers.

I was at the supermarket a while ago and the checkout girl said, “What did you think of the rugby last night?” Having no idea to what she was referring, I said “I don’t watch rugby.” She looked at me like I had just said that to avoid conversation.

The New Zealand Rugby Union had a thing called “Blackout Day” where everyone was encouraged to wear black in support. All these goths started complaining about Blackout day. “We wear black all the time,” they said. “People will think we support rugby.” Oh they bloody well will not.

Yes, rugby supporters wear black clothes, but not black mesh tops with black PVC pants, not Bauhaus t-shirts. And yes, rugby supporters have been known to paint their faces, but not all white and not with eye liner and black lipstick.

Despite what goths might like to think, there’s pretty much no chance of one being mistaken for a rugbyhead. I was going to suggest that goths should stop complaining, but that’s never going to happen.

I could get all worked up over rugby and those rabid supporters of the sport who would go so far as to call someone like me unpatriotic, but I will decline from doing so.

Instead, I shall politely refrain from participating in the culture of rugby. When someone says, “Did you see the rugby on the weekend?” I shall reply, “No, maaaate.”

Bigger Than Bugger

I don’t own or posses a television and because of this I don’t watch a lot of television (quelle surprise!). One day I noticed the word “bugger” kept popping up in the newspaper (The New Zealand Herald, which I do not enjoy reading, I only read it because there’s always a copy at work lying around. It says nothing to me about my life. But that’s another rant.).

Upon further investigation I learned that there was an advertisement on TV for some type of Toyota vehicles that used the punchline “bugger”. I asked around and was told by at least one person that this advertisement was “very very funny.”

So this started a spate of bugger-madness in the nation. Every lame newspaper cartoonist (like there are non-lame newspaper cartoonists) was doing a bugger-themed cartoon. My co-workers laughed at it. “Ha ha,” they’d say. “That’s really funny! I’m going to cut this out and show it to Ian!” Or whoever.

I noticed a shop selling t-shirts with “BUGGER” printed on them. Oh yes, Mr Shopkeeper, I’ll have eight of those, please! Think how rad I will look when I am playing touch rugby on the weekend wearing my “BUGGER” t-shirt!

It leads to this sort of crap, from a local newsgroup:

I wonder, is there anyone out there who has an AVI/MPEG/MOV of the Toyota ‘Bugger!’ commercial that I could download?

I would also be interested in a copy.

And me….!!

I could go on about the advertising people who created the ad, how I imagine them sitting around getting drunk thinking that they are The Shit. But that’s not it.

It’s everyone. The normal everyday people who think it’s the most hysterically funny thing ever.

The kind of people who accuse me of not having a sense of humour because I don’t find jokes with the punchline “bugger” humorous. Somethings are bigger than bugger.

But I shall leave the last word to the Oxford English Dictionary:

1. A Heretic: used esp. of the Albigenses (Hist.)
2. One who commits buggery; a sodomite. In decent use only as a legal term. 1555.
b. A coarse term of abuse; also, in Eng. dial. and in U.S., = ‘chap’, ‘customer’, etc. Hense Bugger v to commit buggery with.

Kiwi Slangtionary

There is allegedly a publication titled “A Teenager’s Guide to Living in New Zealand” which includes a list of slang words that teens who are new to Aotearoa should familiarise themselves with to fit in.

This is a good concept, but I think the list of words was meant for “A 50 Year Old Bogan Farmer’s Guide To Talking With Your Mates Down At The Pub”.

I don’t know many people who use these words on a daily basis, or if they do use them at all, it’s in an detached, alanis-like ironic way.

I decided to write a story using all the words on the list. The words I didn’t know the meanings of (charf, chop, hard graft and prims) got included, but kind of mentally.

Here’s the story. Slangtionary words are in bold, and ones I didn’t know the meaning of, I creatively incorporated and are in italics.

The Bar-b-q

I was over at my bach at Raglan cooking some sausages on my barbie. Suddenly out of the bush came my mate Bruce. “Charf,” he said. I noticed he had on him a kiwi slangtionary that was chocker with words such as “chop,” which is what I was doing to the onions.

Bruce didn’t have a very strong stomach and suddenly began to chunder.

“Mate,” I said to him, “are you feeling a bit crook?”

“I wasn’t until I saw your cooking,” he replied.

That Bruce always was a bit of a dag!

I had forgotten about the barbecue and realised that the sausages were burning, which left me feeling like a bit of a drongo. I ran flat tack to the side of the bach and grabbed a hose and quickly put out the flaming sausages.

I then heard a friendly, “g’day” and saw my neighbour Keith walking over in his gumboots. “Your barbie smells pretty grouse,” he said. “Me and the misses have just been watching one of those blue movies called “Hard Graft III: Nowhere To Hide.”

There was a low rumble and Bruce’s son Dean pulled up in his Kingswood and managed to knock the wheelbarrow over. “You bloody hoon,” Bruce shouted.

Dean walked over wearing his Jandals. He had bought some lollies at the local dairy and offered them around. “I’m feeling pretty munted after Jason’s 21st last night,” he said. “Man, that Jason is a pretty on to it kind of guy.”

Dean ventured off into the paddock out the back and said, “prims.” He was rapt to see the lovely Ange sitting under a tree.

“Howz it goin’?” he asked.

“Not too bad, yourself?,” she replied.

“Ever fallen over a tree?” Dean asked.

“Nope.”

“How about a root?”

After they had rooted, Ange wondered if she might be pregnant.

“Nah, she’ll be right” Dean reassured her.

Dean then shot back to the bach and began to brag about what he’d just been up to. He was so pleased he said he’d shout everyone drinks.

But Ange could hear him skiting and felt thoroughly slutted with him.

Dean went the round the back of the shed and enjoyed his tinnie, while Bruce shared some tinnys of Lion Red.

Keith drank a few too many and was a bit unco and fell over. We all had a good laugh at that.

Mate! Who says you can’t have a good time in the wop-wops.

New Zealand

I’m sick of the attitude that so many New Zealanders have. That New Zealand is a small insignificant country at the bottom of the world that no one knows of or cares about.

Actually, it’s not really New Zealand vs the Rest of the World. It’s New Zealand vs America. If someone from Brazil spoke of New Zealand, no one in New Zealand would care. If a Malaysian pop star said she liked New Zealand, it wouldn’t really matter, but for some reason America is different.

This is how an average American (by American I mean from the USA) is supposed to react about New Zealand:

“So, tell me what you know about New Zealand?”
“Noo… Noo what? Noo Zealand? Where’s that? I’ve never heard of Noo Zealand. It’s a country? Are you kidding? Are you sure you’re not making it up? I think I’d know about it if it really was a country. Is it part of Australia…..”

There’s also the problem of complementing the country. It goes like this.

“So what do you think of New Zealand?”
“It’s a very beautiful country with some wonderful scenery and I’ve met so many wonderful people.”
“No it’s not. New Zealand is really ugly and it’s polluted and all the locals are uncultured slobs”
“So what do you think of New Zealand?”
“It’s not very good. There’s too much pollution and all the people I’ve met are real assholes. I wish I’d never come here.”
“No it’s not. New Zealand is really beautiful country with wonderful people”.

It’s like playing the devil’s advocate to whatever opinion of New Zealand is presented. It seems like it’s really hard to take a compliment and equally as difficult to take criticism.

It can not be denied that New Zealand is a relatively small nation, but that does not mean insignificant. But most New Zealanders revel in any mention of the country on American tv or movies. Even if it is something as meaningless as someone mentioning the work “kiwi” (referring to the fruit), it is still enough to get a New Zealander excited. It’s as if instead of the person saying “I am going to eat a kiwi”, they say “I am going to eat a kiwi, which is a fruit that is not a native plant of New Zealand, but it is named after a native bird of New Zealand. New Zealand is a great country”

So, the basic theme is, New Zealand is a small, insignificant country that no one knows about, especially Americans, and it is a wonderful clean, green, unspoiled paradise. But if you are an American and you know anything about New Zealand, even acknowledge its existence, then there is something wrong with you and if you like New Zealand then you are really wrong. But if you don’t like it then why’d you bother coming here. Go home if you don’t like it.

I don’t know what has caused this attitude, or if it will change over time. But I’d like to see a stop to it now. This attitude has been responsible for a whole lot of really bad, poorly made New Zealand-promoting web pages and it must stop.

What a country.