The turquoise water glistens in the sun and playfully rolls onto the shore in a heap of white foam. The sun is looking down with a huge smile, throwing rays of sunshine on this little piece of heaven. It’s Bondi. It’s great. It’s beautiful and it’s renowned. Go ahead, Google it. Then follow the link to Wikipedia and you’ll catch a glimpse of a “popular beach in Sydney, New South Wales”. It’s in Australia; for the few uneducated people who might be wondering why I would end a sentence so abruptly. The same country that is still learning how to play rugby, or name the game properly.
It’s a small patch of pristine beach with cafe’s buzzing of tourists, regulars and countless families who come here for a piece of the South Pacific. Surfboards, body boards, roller skates, skate boards, bicycles and dogs scutters energetically up and down the long promenade, lifting my own envy factor for those unfortunate few who own property close by.
When you arrive and you look down, you have to pinch yourself to let it sink in. It’s like seeing the Eiffel tower or Central Park for the first time. You run down to the sand and kick your shoes in a big arc, praying suddenly that it won’t crash on a little kid attempting to build a castle. You fall down amidst to many people to count and pull your shirt of violently, in the hope of catching some tan. Your toes dig deep into the hot sand. It’s truly amazing, the stuff of dreams. And you sigh. And you sit. And you sigh. And you’re suddenly annoyed that smoking is not permitted on the beach, for even though you don’t smoke, these are the moments that the Marlboro man talked about. So you sit a little longer and it’s done.
You start looking around. You absorb other things, besides the sound of the waves and the crisp wind blowing. And then cynicism creeps up on you. In those fleeting moments you become astutely aware of something extraordinary. It strikes you like a lighting bolt during a Highveld thunderstorm. It suddenly dawns on you that Bondi Beach has to be the place where all the gorgeous people of the world flock together. It blows your self-esteem right out of the water, so to speak. The people here, are. fucking. beautiful.
The guys on the promenade are all (1) Extremely buff/fit (2) Probably gay (3) Definitely poor for no-one owns a shirt. They are strutting around, very much aware of who’s looking at them, showing off their intricate, slightly excessive tattoos, barely wearing their bright Billabong bodyshort. (I say barely, because those pants are so low, it’s only happy thoughts that’s keeping them up!) And the worst part is that they will spend hours, sweating it up doing pull-ups and bench presses as if by doing that, they will avoid paying taxes.
And you sit in the middle of Bondi as a middle-aged Caucasian male, suddenly aware of your own less than perfect physique and you gain some perspective and feel the need to cover yourself in milliseconds. For self-awareness is a bitch. And once you’ve done that, seven people in close proximity take of their sunglasses, thankful to be able to see without the sun’s reflection from your torso.
Then there’s the ladies. OMG and WTF and any other acronym that you might be able to use in this situation, for I unfortunately know only two. The beach feels like a refuge camp for America’s Next top model or the venue of a Sports Illustrated swim suit reunion. Sorry my love, but the woman in this neck of the woods, are all at least a 12. And yes it doesn’t make sense on the scale of 1-10, but the tops are so small, one has to add at least two points for the effort of trying to conceal the twins in the little fabric they have at their disposal. It’s redefining the importance of string. And yes I know that if I really tried, these kids could have been my daughters.
Then once you’re used to the beauties and deuches around you, when the initial appreciation wears off and your breathing returns to normal, you look past the bodies, biceps and boobs, and it suddenly dawns on you again, and life smacks you right across the face for the second time.
For these creatures, male and female, are as authentic and real as chicken teeth, fairy dust, or levitation. These bodies are all fake and vain and proud. They are not here for the fun, sun and sea, they are here exhibiting their vanity, showing off their profound narcissism. They’re here to hunt. To lure innocence into their traps. To scavenge emotion and to show of their intense egotism. And that is why it makes Bondi the shallowest beach I’ve ever visited, and I’m not referring to the depth of the water.
Why else would you bother arriving at a world renowned beach with high heels, seven pounds of make-up and a Dolce handbag, the size of a suitcase? And never set foot on the sand? Why would you arrive with a surf board, a fake tan and shades the size of two bowling balls and never set foot on the sand? Is your only goal in life to wiggle your implants or jiggle your pecs, like some wannabe outcast from Jersey shore? What about wearing some real bathing costumes once in a while? Will it kill ya? And the worst is that you’re all sitting there together, in that beach cafe, pissing it up, whilst dishing commentary to normal folk walking by and minding their own business. Classy Barbie, real classy, Ken.
In the end it’s true that birds of a feather flock together, and the ladies expect what the men dish out. You get what you give. But the reality of Bondi left a bad taste in my mouth and on the way back to the hotel, I was trying to make sense of this weird place where Ken and Barbie meet every day.
PS – I love Australia, and I love Sydney and maybe my harsh criticism is due to one bad experience on an unfortunate day. I will return and give it another shot. (And probably take three before attempting it.)