My grandmother, who studied astronomy at Cornell, would be pleased that I can now point out the Southern Cross. This is a need-to-know thing, if you’re in Australia, especially as the constellation graces the national flag.
It’s thanks to my new Aussie neighbour that I am now a few stars the wiser. One night last week, my flatmate and I were craning our necks looking for Down Under’s most famous constellation. It was while we were doing our giraffe impressions that our new neighbour from Darwin took pity on us and pointed out the right stars to us. He also showed us how to find south by using the Southern Cross. Now I don’t have to worry about getting lost on a starry night in Oz.
That was also the night of my first serenade. Darwin isn’t half bad as a guitarist but his lyrics made for a rather muddling melody. I didn’t quite know whether to laugh or to cry. I decided to be politically correct and clapped enthusiastically. After all, it isn’t every day that you get serenaded by your Australian neighbour, and hey, it was the first time I’ve been immortalized in song. The moment definitely deserved applause.
A few nights later, my flatmate and I decided to return the favour. We invited Darwin over to our balcony, and sang soulful and melancholic sixties tunes. This wasn’t because I was feeling particularly moody – it’s just easier to play the slow and sad songs on a guitar. The one lively tune that we did play was Perry Como’s “Magic Moments”.
“I just might learn to play that one,” said Darwin.
“Which one is that?” asked my flatmate.
“Oh, “Magic Mushrooms”,” said my neighbour, “I mean, Moments.” He spent several minutes explaining the dizzying effects of eating magic mushrooms to my Chinese flatmate whose “English is not good”.
“Interesting slip of the tongue,” said I wondering what else he’d picked or picked up over the years.
I haven’t seen Darwin or his guitar since that night. But then, after listening to my singing, he’s probably found a sudden urge to go hunting for some magic mushrooms.