Sunday, October 20, 2013

Conversations with white Melburnians: a guide

Being a subset of Melburnian culture, white Melburnians have their own social norms, ways of communicating and ideas of what constitutes desired behaviour. Thus when Melbourne white people discuss their lives, there are only a limited number of possibilities for every statement they make. This changes the types of questions you can use to engage them in conversation. The getting-to-know-you questions are different, since you already know the answers to all of the usual ones. Here is a guide to conversations with white Melburnians:

If a white Melburnian tells you they are going to America:

"So are you staying in Williamsburg or the area next to Williamsburg?"

If a white Melburnians tells you they are going away for the weekend:

"Is there public transport to Castlemaine?"

If a white Melburnian tells you they are going to MIFF:

"Which music doco are you seeing?"

If a white Melburnian tells you one of their housemates is annoying them:

"Is it the photographer or the writer?"

If a white Melburnian tells you their tram was delayed:

"Is the 86 normally so bad?"

If a white Melburnian tells you they have to write an essay for uni:

"Is it about Derrida or Lacan?"

If a white Melburnian tells you they are moving to Europe:

"So you got that residency in Berlin?"

You also don't need to tell white Melburnians the suburb you live in, which can be confusing if you are new to Melbourne. When you hear them describe where they live, often it's just a street name:

"I live on Scotchmer. You?"
"We're between Canning and Rathdowne".

It's remarkable that such shortcuts of speech are possible in a city of 4.2 million. All of the diversity such a massive city offers in terms of lifestyles, places of work or residence, geography, forms of transport, social life and recreation - most of it gets air brushed out in White Melbourne where everyone is doing the same things all the time.

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