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how music makes the world a slightly smaller place

Recently, I had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of a couch-surfer from Chicago, whom we shall affectionately refer to as Chicken Sprout.

Before I proceed, it is imperative that I make it clear to all readers that I had, in fact, enjoyed the company of this wonderful guest so much that I had less-than-subtly pinched him over from his proper couch-surfing host, the wonderful Miss Dunja.

Chicken Sprout was introduced to the many marvels of this country, including but not limited to: sausage roll because we couldn’t bear inflicting a pie floater upon him, an outback that was green, not red, due to the uncharacteristic rainfall, a currency-exchange rate that was for once, in favour of foreigners due to political uncertainties all thanks to –censored–, and of course, dishes that were not wrapped in bacon, deep-fried in fat and smothered with icing sugar.

He also learnt that not everyone was a “mate”; that perversely, it is more socially acceptable to tell a ranga joke than one about dumb blondes, and that requesting for Coke in an “aluminum” can was asking to be sucker-punched.

In return, I was taught that you could, in fact, use the word “awesome” to punctuate your speech, that we had complacently taken the architectural marvels of Adelaide for granted, that as an anti-war, agnostic, Kafka-reading, tea-drinking, and might I add – thin – artist, the stereotypical American so misrepresented by the media does the country no real justice. So really, all you American-haters are really missing out by assuming USA is a country full of Sarah Palins.

How, you may ask, did an anti-social, bitterly cynical figment of everyone’s imagination such as myself, even contemplate striking up a conversation with someone who was, for all matters of appearances, a WASP?

While many Australians are familiar with establishing rapport over a conversation that commences with sports and invariably ends up about footy, or fostering a sense of camaraderie over their preferred drop of poison, I personally have no interest in bonding over personal vices, and any mention about how Melbourne has four seasons in a day is the quickest way to end a conversation with me, not start one.

I am, however, very partial to quirks and oddities; having caught a whiff of something different, I assumed the duty of politely acquainting myself to him as the situation had called for, but not without taking some liberty of subjecting him to – for want of a better word – my “friend-filter”. Also, it helps that Chicken Sprout’s father is a musician, a very big deal coming from a cultural background where everyone’s parents are either doctors, lawyers, or tax accountants.

Growing up, I had been exposed to perhaps a little more American folk music than anyone ever should, and needless to say, am well acquainted with the likes of Tim McGraw, the Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss et. al., so it blew my mind to know that Chicken Sprout’s dad had opened for The Charlie Daniels Band.

Disgustingly, I am also mad keen about Celtic music, and quietly proud of it. So it came as a surprise when Chicken Sprout revealed that not only did he know who Loreena McKennitt was, he also proceeded to tell me her close-to-a-decade hiatus was the result of her losing her mind after her fiancé had passed away. Charming.

A final revelation about my musical taste – having been put in front of a keyboard from the tender age of about three years old, I am incredibly partial to what others may consider “boring” classical music. Not Chicken Sprout, who enthusiastically proceeded to indulge me in cello features. A LOT of cello, if I may add.

So I have made myself a firm acquaintance in someone I would not normally have – dare I say this – had the pleasure of acquainting myself with, and was all the better for it, safe in the knowledge that when everything else in this world fails to work for me, there are other weirdos like me out there in this world who can warble the words to Jolene, know what sláinte means, and wouldn’t laugh if I choose to whistle Chopin’s Nocturne #2 in E-flat.

(Image credits: 1.)

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