My Name is David, Not Dear John

A Bad Day At The Internet Cafe

“Some times you win, some times you lose, and some times, it rains.”

–Tim Robbins from the movie “Bull Durham.”

The plan was to see Australia in three weeks. I now realize the only way to have done that would have been to watch the country whiz by through a bus window. So, I slowed down and limited my visit to Eastern Australia. Even so, I didn’t seem to be getting any closer to Indonesia. 

The problem was fear. Although I couldn’t really call what I was doing “international travel” in a country that was so similar to home, I was afraid of Southeast Asia. I’d never been interested in the region. I didn’t even speak the languages or know the history of the places I would visit. The only exception was Vietnam, which I had wanted to see since the U.S. resumed diplomatic relations. The only reason I planned to visit the rest of Southeast Asia was to kill time to avoid riding the Trans-Siberian Railroad in winter. I had no idea what I would do if I hated the region, because I hadn’t left myself with any options. So, I was in a rush to get the impending culture shock over with, while living in fear of facing up to it. 

Another factor was the resulting communications blackout. I was still having difficulty cutting ties. Even at this late date I called home every few days and sent e-mail to friends every chance I got. Fortunately, two events in Adelaide helped speed up the process.

The first was my visit to the Fringe Festival. Because I attend the Seattle International Fringe Festival every February, attending Adelaide’s event made me feel I wasn’t missing much. I’ve always loved avant garde theatre, not only because it’s cheaper than its traditional counterpart, but also because it’s edgier. You’re never sure what’s going to happen. I’ve seen everything from truly pretentious performance art to screamingly funny musical parodies of “Star Trek.” One of my favorite fringe pieces involved an actor using a champagne bottle cork and two audience members to re-enact figure skater Tanya Harding’s attack on Nancy Kerrigan. 

Adelaide’s offerings were just as varied. “Freud Notices His Fly is Unzipped” was an amusing play about shared housing and the intrigues that result. The cabaret “Not All There Theatre” was pointless, but occasionally funny. And the “Men Who Know Too Much” were awful. 

Locals sang the group’s praises, so I passed on several other interesting shows to see them. The show was built around a group of men with video cameras on their heads who walked through the audience, chose a volunteer, used a camera and sensitive mic to take sound and video samplings then remixed it and danced in time to the result. 

The whole thing reminded me of a Seattle show I saw where a bald man with the globe painted on his head cleaned out his refrigerator, spilled milk and Corn Flakes over his head, then ate the result off the floor. At least the one in Seattle had been somewhat amusing.

The other event that pushed me to sever ties was the note I found waiting for me when I checked my e-mail at an internet cafe. It came from my girlfriend. I still remember it word for word.

Dear David:

I am dating someone, and it’s not you. 

I’m sorry. I hope this doesn’t ruin your day. 

Donna Lee

Such a terse message may be funny now, but it wasn’t then.

I’m told Adelaide has beautiful beaches, amazing mansion-lined streets, and wonderful parks. 

You couldn’t prove it by me, however.

I was already on my way to Indonesia.