Singapore Adventure

Friday, July 07, 2006

Adjectival Ratbag
by venitha

"Get a move on, you adjectival rat... umm... Ratwhat?"

"Bag. Ratbag."

"Ratbag. Why can I not remember that?"

Jim gives me a sidelong glance, closes the boot, and wisely holds his tongue. We haven't been married for ten years for nothing.

Ratbag is my favorite word from our Lonely Planet Northern Territory's glossary and is defined as "a friendly term of abuse". Woolly butt, on the other hand, is just a tree. Adjectival isn't listed in Lonely Planet, but it's my favorite Aussie adjective anyway, well ahead of wicked, cheeky, and brilliant. I'm the only one I've heard using it, but I'm determined to gain something from having suffered through The True History of the Kelly Gang, and an Australian expletive seems appropriate.

We make our way through rows of cars parked on the grass, our destination a rare Saturday opening of Darwin's Mindil Beach Sunset Market in celebration of Territory Day. A bit weirded out by the odd similarities to summer festivals in our small Wisconsin hometowns, we concentrate on the differences: the smell of saltwater in the air, the electrified didgeridoos in the band, the booth selling stuffed cane toads in obscene poses.

"Care to share some paradise?" We order one Tropical Paradise, a mix of orange, pineapple, mango, and, my favorite, tangy passionfruit, and head out to the beach to take turns slurping noisily while basking in the glow of yet another stellar Australian sunset. Our Lonely Planet lists so many places as excellent for viewing a sunset that we've examined the author photos and debated over who has the fetish, but it's contagious, and we could even add a few sunrises to the list. Tonight's vibrant orange glow above the blue Timor Sea, we agree, is the best of a dazzling lot.

Eventually hunger, Jim's eyeball-roll-inducing sappiness, and imminent death at the hands of yahoos unable to wait for the official fireworks display drive us back to the market. Feasting on wide Aussie smiles, we wander the trailers serving a schizophrenic combination of Asian noodle dishes, deep-fried carnival fare, and native Aussie critters, notably crocodile, emu, kangaroo, and served up in style by The Roadkill Cafe, motto: You Kill It, We Grill It. We somehow resist all this temptation and settle instead on a novelty in Asia, a wrap, complete with hummus and tabouli, seduced by its label: An Orgasmic Sensation!

"Did it work for you?"

"No, but it was good."

The fireworks commence with a boom, and we stand shoulder to shoulder, oohing and aahing along with the crowd, amused at this same reaction to fireworks the world over and blown away by the smashing display. One nutella crepe later, we interlace our sticky fingers in the darkness and stumble back through the field toward our car, full and happy.

"Can you make out the ?" I ask, craning my head upwards and spinning clumsily around.

Jim, yet again, starts singing that song.

"You adjectival rat... umm... Ratwhat?"