Waltzing | Ilija Dokmanovic
The alarm of your clock radio starts to go off – it’s playing the chorus section of “You Only Get What You Give” by the New Radicals, one of your favorites. The morning sun is starting to rise, its bright orange beams only just starting to sneak up through the window. It’s 6:30am, and the State of Victoria is starting its day.
Still in your bathrobe, you leisurely make your way downstairs to the kitchen to put on the first cuppa of the day, rubbing the crust from your eyes to appreciate the sunrise a little bit more. Earl Grey in hand, you push aside the sliding glass door in your kitchen and step out onto the verandah, taking a long, slightly embellished inhalation of the surrounding dewy air. You look out over your property, a humble plot of 10 acres nestled away in the Dandenong Ranges, and you notice the mists rolling over the hills in the distance. Another fine morning. You take a sip of that smoky Earl Grey – life is good – life is simple.
You’re joined on the verandah by your wife – she’s getting started with her daily tasks as well, helping organize the community fair which she’s been planning diligently for months alongside the town council. It’s Australia Day, after all. You wrap your arms around her, she leans into the embrace as you kiss her on the top of the head. You think back to what it was like to be young and in love again, for a moment the wrinkles on both of your faces seem to fade as you look deeply into each other’s eyes, almost as if you’re eternally stuck in that youthful romance. This seemingly eternal stare of blissful, almost euphoric love is suddenly disturbed by the revving of a car engine… oh Christ, the boys are up.
“Oi!” you yell over continued obnoxious revving of the V8, “Oi!”
There is no response, only the clanging and banging of tools and engine parts. You roll your eyes as you knock on the lifted hood of the car to get your son’s attention.
The car is a restored ‘69 Holden Monaro GTS 350, a deep navy blue base coat decorated with Australian flag motifs and imagery. This vehicle is going to be leading the parade along with the other local petrolheads and their custom cars. Ever since the advent of SmartGas, average Aussies are able to enjoy the freedom and lack of restriction that comes with owning a non-electric vehicle. If that wasn’t the only good part about it, China’s economy collapsed not long after we stopped relying on their battery imports to make our “sustainable” technology. Who could’ve guessed that strengthening the internal economic infrastructure and insulating your country from global collapse would pay off? Certainly not the politicians or lobbyists of yesteryear, but you don’t have to worry about them any more ever since they were sent off to toil away in the cobalt mines of the Simpson Desert for their treachery.
“Fuckin ay, Dad! Can’t you see I’m trying to get the Monaro in order for the parade?” he pokes his head up from under the hood, his face is splotched with motor oil and grease. He’s a handsome lad, well-built, and smart as a whip. You remember how proud he made you at his graduation, and the awards he’s received throughout his education for his model behavior, and dedication to the local community. He’s been studying law in the city after coming back from his service in the Royal Australian Air Force. Although he has his own starter house with the other young folks in Melbourne, he makes the effort to visit his parents on the family homestead. It’ll be his one day, after all. He’s a chip off the old block, for sure.
You chuckle to yourself as you walk past him nonchalantly, “Only you would find the joy in working this loud, this early! Take a break from the car and get the rest of the boys, mate. Let’s go for a walkabout.”
About an hour later you and your sons find yourselves bushwhacking around. You know of a local billabong where kangaroos are known to stop for a rest, and an Australia Day barbeque wouldn’t be complete without some fresh burgers. After another 20 minutes walk away from the Land Rover you spot some furry ears poking up just over the hills, like satellite dishes, twitching and turning. You’ve found ‘em.
“Alright lads, just like I taught you… sneak up as close as you can, and make sure your scent isn’t getting carried by the wind. I’ve made that mistake more times than I like to admit. When you’re confident, take the shot directly towards the heart – centre of mass.”
Your youngest, a rather unassuming looking boy who recently turned 12, has an eagle-like focus in his eyes. He’s a crack shot, having plenty of practice on targets in your fields, but this is the first time he would’ve taken his first shot at live game – other than fish, that is. This is an important day for him, so you let him take the first shot.
“Steady your rifle, make sure you’ve got the wind in your favor, and keep your breathing steady before taking the shot… it’s on your mark.”
Your son zeroes in on his desired target, a buck almost 2 meters at full height drinking from the billabong. He takes a deep breath – BANG! Not even a slight hint of hesitation.
The buck drops to the ground, and as the other roos make their escape the rest of your boys fire their own shots to get any stragglers – we’ve a town to feed after all.
You make your way over to the downed game. Clean shots all around, you’re happy that your boys are able to grow up in a society where there is a healthy level of respect and reverence for weaponry. Despite the initial unpopularity of the motion, the Australian people were able to overcome the fear politics driven by the media and take on the responsibility of private firearm ownership. As it turned out, people are less inclined towards criminality when you live in a high-trust society where most responsible people are packing heat. Young women especially appreciated the new lack of fear they were able to enjoy, as aggravated assaults and sex crimes had a significant decrease in the following years – while the number of failed ones that ended in the death of the perpetrator went up. Not many tears for that statistic, and understandably so. Not only this, but the world-class manufacturing and machining facilities have meant that Australia has dominated the conventional arms industry. Unlike the Americans, it is ensured that these guns don’t end up in the hands of terrorists, reactionaries or our enemies – not that there are many enemies for us Australians to worry about.
Making your way back to town in the mid-afternoon in the Land Rover, with game tied to the hood and the roof rack, listening to the music from your childhood – “Overkill” by Men at Work is blasting through the car stereo never gets old. You think back to how far the country has come since you were a child. As long as you can remember all you would hear about is how the nation-state is over, and how we all need to work together towards the “inevitable” globalized world, and make the most of it despite the horrors that it invited. It all seems like a distant, painful memory now, but you remember how far society can devolve when people forget who they are, or worse, they are never told who they are to begin with. It truly is an incredible juxtaposition to where you find yourself now. How awful might things have been if the sycophants and sociopaths who used to run the show fulfilled their dream?
You shudder at the thought, but it leaves your mind quickly as you wave at the townsfolk as you pass down the main street – all these people know you, and you know them. There are no strangers, and whenever one comes through town they are quickly absorbed by the friendly atmosphere until they are a stranger no longer. The townsfolk are all out helping decorate the lamp-posts and exteriors of the pubs and shops. By the looks of the Aussie flags, the green and gold neon lights, the stalls and stands littering the pavement, tonight is going to be something special, that’s for sure.
It’s now close to 4:30pm, and you’ve just finished preparing the kangaroo patties for the town’s feast tonight. You get changed out of your hunting cams, grabbing a fresh, Australian-made linen towel from the closet. Understandably the cams are covered in blood, but you’ll still get an earful from the old ball and chain about the mess. Not that you mind, you enjoy the rants – they remind you of how lucky you are to have someone who cares, and you know that deep-down she appreciates having the fresh game around. You give her a kiss on the cheek as you pass by her to hop in the shower. She blushes as she hits your bare ass with the wooden spoon she was using for the pavlova. You grin, and chuckle to yourself as you enter the bathroom. The water-pressure in the shower is superb; like a water cannon hitting Marxists, you’re power washed clean of the roo blood. No chemicals or heavy alkali deodorants, all the cleaning and grooming supplies are sourced from the nations best organic resources. Why go to the trouble synthesizing cheap, harmful chemicals when everything you really need springs up from the Earth? It’s better for you too.
You exit the shower, smelling like a symphony of eucalyptus and tea tree oil as all Australian men should. Getting changed into a crisp, clean flannel, blue jeans and brown leather R.M. Williams boots. You remember the days when men were expected to dress solely for comfort; grey sweats and puffer jackets are the uniform of the uninspired and the most hollow of people, akin to a slave’s outfit. Not you, nor the best examples of contemporary man. You take pride in your appearance, as does any self-respecting bloke these days. You dress not just in terms of functionality, but also to venerate the culture and professions of your forebears. These were men and women of the land, of God, and of beauty – not rats of the city in their Hasidic-style suits, devoid of any character or personality, mere bricks in a financial wall.
It’s almost time to head into town for the opening of the parade. You head back into the garage to check on your son’s progress, you’ll be driving the Marano into town after rendezvousing with the rest of the town’s men and boys at the local footy oval. As you’re appreciating the glistening polish job on the exterior of the car, your eldest son enters; he’s wearing a similar outfit to you, but he’s got a leather slouch-hat on. He’s a spitting image of your great-great grandfather who died during the Great War – my God, would all of them be proud to see what you were able to make. It’s comforting to know that such heavy sacrifices almost a hundred years ago were definitely not in vain – although, let’s face it, there were moments that had you on the edge of complete despair. No more blackpills, not on that scale.
“Ready to go?” he asks, opening the door to the passenger seat on the other side of the car.
“Son, I was born ready!” you say as you do your best Horatio Caine impression, sliding on a pair of sunglasses, with a shit-eating grin on your face.
“For fuck’s sake, Dad…” he sighs and rolls his eyes as he enters the car. You chuckle to yourself again.
You pull up to the centre of the footy oval, a fleet of classic muscle cars, utes, and motorbikes are spread around the grass. All the local blokes and their sons are out today with their vehicles. These aren’t the cheap fibreglass shells, electronic vomit that were all too common to see on the road during the early decades of the 2000’s. These are chariots of metal and superior engineering, fit for the men driving them.
“Alrighty!” you yell through Holden’s megaphone, like a centurion commanding a legion of roughneck Aussies, “Who here’s ready to put on an Australia Day that this town… no, this STATE will never forget!”
An orchestra of car horns, cheering and revs of celebration droned and blared on in the Summer air, the sun just starting to set on the Grampians – the sky was awash with streaks of reds, oranges and deep purples.
You turn the keys in the ignition; the engine roars alive, like the growl of a bulldog. You exit the oval and make your way down the main road, leading the motorcade of Aussie patriots and petrolheads. Each car is carrying the flags of our fathers – whether it is the national flag, the various state and city flags of the country, the Eureka flag, the Federation flag, the naval ensigns, the Aboriginal flag, even the Sovereign Flag in honor of the King!
The convoy tears down the highway, a sea of blues, reds, whites, green and golds. AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill” accompanying the noisy convoy, setting everyone in the mood for the evening ahead. The backdrop of Melbourne’s skyscrapers reflecting the sunset is like something out of a rich oil-painting. You never get tired of that sight. As the cars approach the main street of town you start to see all of the hard work of the townsfolk coming together:
Ferris wheels, live music from the local bands, stalls and stands selling their wares and souvenirs of the special day. The crowds are cheering as you and your mates drive past, waving and honking your horns as you pass by. The local boys, all of them looking almost identical in their Aussie flag bucket hats and footy jerseys are running alongside the cars, waving and yelling in joy. One day these lads will be leading the motorcade when they’re old enough, and it’ll be your grandkids running alongside while you watch… but that’s not for some time.
After the motorcade, you park your car close to the main street and you and your son start making your way over to the fairground. The darkness of the night sky has fully emerged now, and although you cannot see the full array of stars as you typically can, the aura that is let off by the bright glowing neon lights around town make a fine temporary substitute to light up the night.
You hear the screams of children having fun on the rides, the chatter of young couples making memories with each other – how you remember those days fondly. As the smells of freshly made popcorn and cotton candy fills the atmosphere, cold beer and barbeque, you get lost in a brief daydream. When you close your eyes you’re taken back to your teenage years – oh how good it is that your own kids are able to experience the same fun, and not be second-class citizens in their own nations. You’re awoken from the daze suddenly as you feel a tap on your shoulder from behind. It’s your wife, and your daughter in-law. She’s carrying your granddaughter in her arms; a girl of only 4 years.
Your daughter-in-law passes her child to you, and you embrace the little curly-haired cherub. She’s sure to be a firecracker like the rest of the women in your family when she grows up, a vivacious personality and a beauty to match. The women in your family, and by extension the rest of the women in your town, are all taught to embrace the strength of their femininity from an early age. They don’t need passing fads like feminism, because feminism offers them nothing they don’t already have.
Confidence in self? They’ve cultivated health and beauty over the years, not rejected it out of teenage angst and rebellion.
Strength? They’ve been taught that by their mothers and fathers, not their iPhones.
Protection? In a society where trust is high, respect for personal boundaries is appreciated, and men and women are raised to cherish each other and work together, not compete or take advantage of one another, there’s not a lot of protecting that is needed. Even so, these ladies are tough as nails.
Opportunity? Slaving away at a corporate desk job or in a factory hardly seems like an opportunity, more like a marketing-scheme for cheap labour. These ladies seek the opportunity to strengthen the bonds of their local community and their families, and raise the next generation of proud, respectable citizens. What job is more fulfilling than motherhood, after all?
Empowerment? There is nothing empowering about rejecting womanhood in favor of androgynous consumerism – no matter how hard the UN tried to shove that message down the throats of women across the world. You’re glad that the UN is gone – that Tower of Babel was destined for failure, but you’re just happy you did your part in dismantling it before too much damage was done.
You’re eventually joined by the rest of your family, all of your sons, and all of your daughters. There’s a lot of them, and they all have their respective partners and friends alongside them, all of their faces painted with smiles as wide as canyons.. As you make your way over to the hot jam donut stand with your family, you remember to yourself that, although this life isn’t perfect – having plenty of challenges, trials and tribulations peppered throughout your own journey – you wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Utopia isn’t a destination, nor is it just a vision. It is an ideal to strive towards, and it is a personal journey to accept the imperfections of life, and make the most of them. Nothing in life is perfect, but as long as you have friends and family to help you along the way, things aren’t so bad.
You’re once again nudged-out of your internal monologuing by your wife, who passes you a white paper bag filled with delicious, piping-hot jam donuts. You take a bite out of one, and your tongue is immediately scorched by the strawberry magma that was encased in the dough.
“FUCK ME!” you let out a mouth-filled yelp as you keel over, dripping red hot jam all over your flannel and jeans, mouth fully ajar trying to keep cool air flowing in to balance out the heat of the donut.
Your family starts to laugh, as the fireworks display begins for the whole town to enjoy.