The thing about being an MK is that once you return home and attempt reentry, the process is like jamming a pickle in an electrical outlet: shocking. And everyone stares at you since you smell horrid and have green goo on your hands. In our 3rd world country (sorry, Developing Nation) we’d become accustomed to wealthy friends and the country clubs, spas, and sauna access they provided. Beautiful hotels in Bolivia were also quite affordable and some of the best I’ve been in. This faux-glamorous life I’d created & moulded over my years in captivity didn’t translate well to a culture like Australia’s, where the hotels charge what they’re worth and I was still earning what I was worth. Case in Point: Recently my wife and I travelled to wonderful Surfer’s Paradise for some R&R. That is, Receipts & Repossession. Of course, nowadays most of Queensland is under water, but there was a time (several weeks ago) when it was quite the coveted tourist destination. The hotel we stayed in has been called the nicest in Australia by people who know about such things and has its own 90-berth Marina, pair of logo-emblazoned Vespa scooters for guests, and a vast array of condescending stares from the staff. I felt a little out of place and began to wonder if my old pair of cons were really the correct footwear for the job at hand. I think my StarWars T-Shirt did a great job of keeping the focus off my shoes however. We realized the gig was up when the valet brought our car around and it was the only dirty one there. Also the only one made in Korea. I think one of the Italian sports cars may have spat on it at some point. But, despite my humble roots we still managed to live like kings for a week, even paying an obscene $24 for a BLT sandwich by the pool, and $36 per-person for a continental breakfast, of which I heartily devoured one infinitesimal bowl of Kellogg’s Special K. I think that works out at about $1.57 per flake. After that my wife wouldn’t let me eat on the hotel grounds and I was banished to McDonald’s down the road. There’s still plenty to hold one’s attention in Queensland, even after having your kidneys gouged out with silverware by the waiter to pay for your meals. The Gold Coast is renowned for its theme parks, giving families from across the nation easy access to the thrills and excitement of standing in long lines for hours in stinking hot weather. One such recipe for disaster is MovieWorld. They call MovieWorld ‘Hollywood on the Gold Coast’, but it’s neither of those things really. Any sea turtles returning home from MovieWorld had better take the bus ’cause that place is like 50 miles inland. In perhaps the scariest moment of my life I got to line up for a whole hour to experience 30 terrifying seconds of Superman: The Ride: No one will be able to Identify Your Remains Should You Attempt To Sue Us. The first warning sign should have been that we weren’t even allowed to take coins in our pockets on the hellish thing. We had to leave everything behind in lockers, sign waivers, call closest relatives etc, and then get flung around like astronauts training for a mars assault. The story goes that you’re on a train (the kind of train where you’re lashed into your seat like Hanibal Lector, with no roof, comfy seating and gag reflex control) that gets stuck in the subway in an earthquake and the Man of Steel flies up behind you and says he’ll push you out. At Superman Speed. Apparently Superman speed is 0-100Kph (62mph) in 2 seconds. I would have lost control of my bowels had I not left them back at the start of the ride in a bleeding, sloppy heap. It felt like my face was going to fly off.
I seriously thought we were going to die. Thankfully your eyes take longer to adjust to the light than your inner ear to motion, so even though my brain knew death was imminent, my eyes were still recovering from the brightness as we escaped the tunnel, although they could have been embedded so far back in the recesses of my skull that it just looked like we were coming out of a tunnel. This meant we were already 40m high and travelling straight up by the time I recovered from the blindness, perched atop our roller coaster rails with nothing to see but blue sky and certain death below. Thankfully the ride was only really about 30 seconds long and we lived to tell the tale, promising each other we’d never do it again till death do us part, preferably somewhere peaceful next time. Also, I think Superman may have overdone it a bit with all the barrel rolls and flying upside down. Next time I’ll try the Superman Gracefully Removes a Kitten from a Tree Without Too Much Drama ride instead. With the aid of a dessert spoon and some borrowed BBQ tongs I was able to get my bowels back in their rightful place of lodging and we returned to the hotel to attempt some less scary activities. Perhaps swimming with sharks, or boxing lessons with Mike Tyson. Something relaxing anyway. Half of the hotel’s pair of Vespas was in the shop, since a holiday TV show reviewing the hotel a few weeks earlier had crashed it in a flaming ball of irony. My wife, with her tempestuous temperament, decided against riding lady-like on the back of mine and wanted her own one, so we went into the city and hired a couple from a local establishment. That was one free-wheeling, adrenaline fuelled afternoon. Mostly stuck in traffic inhaling carbon monoxide or getting rained on. But I knew just how Superman must feel, wind in my hair, flying along at a throttle-limited 45 Kilometres per hour.