Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Grrr in Growler...

I should've learned from the "fanny-pack" incident of '98; just because it looks like English and sounds like English, the lingo spoken down here is just that: Engl-ish. To quantify it, you may even define it as "Kwozi." Pronounced quasi, not only is it the "margarine of English/the Diet Coke of English (just one calorie; not English enough)," but also it is a fusion of the antipoedian dialect of the Kiwis and Aussies. To say the least, the slang Down Under is very colourful indeed, and commonplace words we would use in North America take on an entirely different and embarassing meaning in this part of the world.
Take the "Roots Canada" incident of '89, for example. At a Christmas reunion with my grandparents (the last time we all got together, incidentally), we Canadians thought that a trendy t-shirt by Roots would be an ideal gift for my Australian cousins. Upon opening the bright red shirt with the iconic beaver and the words "Roots!" written on it, the horror on my auntie's face was only surpassed by the mischevious grin on my cousins' faces, while the Canadians looked on in complete naivety.
"Don't you know what a root is?" my aunt asked, trying her absolute best not to offend my grandparents as my cousins continued to giggle.
With complete honesty, we all answered "no." To this day, I give my aunt the award for Best Tact Ever as she proceded to explain in front of octagenarians that a "root" in Australia basically meant "to f*&k"; an expression not helped by the fact a beaver was on the shirt.
Fast-forward to the Holgate Pub in Woodside, about an hour's drive north-west of Melbourne. Remembering their brilliant craft brews from nearly a decade ago, Ben accompanies me there for a last lunch in Melbourne. Local boy though he is, Ben is impressed by on-tap selection that has clearly expanded over the years. The first thing I notice, however, is that not only is there draught and 6-pack craft beers available, but also a 1.85 litre takeaway bottle you can fill and refill at leisure. The industry term for such a bottle is a "growler." Not sure why, but it just is. My first reaction upon entering the pub is to announce this aloud: "Hey look! They have growlers!"
Insert sound of crickets among bar staff and patrons, and a restrained giggle from Ben.
"Growler? I don't even know her!" I continue. (This is my stand by joke for anything that ends in "-er". for example, if asked "Did you want a sweater?" I will invariably respond with "Sweater? I don't even know her!")
In retrospect, I credit Ben with the same patience and tact beheld by my auntie so many years ago. This tact, however, was thrown out with the spit bucket upon filling a takeaway growler of refreshing Holgate Pilsner. Clearly, the hard-livin' country barmaid could tell I had no clue as to the meaning of a growler that she mentioned this to Ben at check-out. Glancing sideways to ensure no one else was in earshot, I write here the PG version of what a Growler is:
"It's when a man is with his beloved woman and does the opposite of go up on her, thereby resulting in a sound reminscent of a growl." (the real description was all of 5 syllables after the 'when a man' part... oh the grace and charm of an Aussie country lass...).
Thus, another lessoned learned in Aus-talk. Before saying anything, double check to see if there is a double entendre as no doubt the Aussies have found some way to make the most benign into the most obscene.

1 comment:

  1. Good article and funny. You forgot to mention the time your parents visited you for the first time when you were living and working in New Zealand. Your dad was wearing a Roots sweater and you had to take him aside and explain what Roots meant down there, and that was why he was getting some strange stares and chuckles from people.