I spent two months in the summer of 2004 working with Warringah Church of Christ in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia. My best friend Hunter and another friend from Lipscomb University, Benji, were also there.
We stayed with different families from the church for one or two weeks at a time.
We especially enjoyed living with the Lubens. Bob refurbished vintage surfboards and liked to drive fast. Linda made us laugh with her impromptu mothering and cooked lamb roast on Sundays.
Most Australian homes have no central heating and air. Summertime in the States corresponds with winter Down Under. The Luben household used space heaters in different rooms. Your feet would get cold if you walked around without shoes on.
Bob was proud of his house shoes. He encouraged us to try them on, insisting that they were an Australian original, a great souvenir. He’d bought them from a guy who set up a table at the local mall. He was right-the shearling kept your feet warm and the sheepskin leather was durable. They even had a decent sole for going to get the paper or taking out the trash.
I like to buy souvenirs that have some purpose other than cluttering up the top of a dresser. I don’t ever want to buy hutches or shelves or cabinets to hold mementos from my world travels. Give me something like a satchel or wallet or shoes that I can use often.
Those boots made in Australia were right up my alley-functional, well-made, and authentic.
I bought a pair. I loved them. My feet stayed toasty warm, and I found them for cheaper than what Bob had paid.
Our two months came to a close, we packed our duffels and our backpacks, and the three of us returned to the States.
Back in the good ole U.S. of A., I was in for a nasty surprise.
I’m the only straight male in the country with a pair of Ugg boots. Bob led me astray. Those boots are not meant for chopping wood and butchering wild beasts. No, middle school girls cruise around the mall in them, and sorority girls of ill repute wear them in the summer.
Just when I thought I was being smart by passing up the didgeridoo and boomerang, I get stuck with the least masculine souvenir of all time. I may as well have start wearing pants with “Juicy” across the butt and saying, ”like,” every other word.
At least I petted a koala.