Thursday, 17 April 2008

A hint of Europe in the air

It's often said that Melbourne is the most European of Australia's capital cities,  and in some ways that's true.  It's more liberal politically and socially,  has relatively good public transport,  and probably a slightly greater appreciation of all things cultural than most of the other capitals.

But alas,  the similarities are not confined to the good stuff.  There's also the relatively cold weather and the substandard beaches,  for example.  However,  the thing that really makes me think  "omg,  they weren't kidding when they said this place is European"  is the way that far too many of the locals STINK.  Yes,  Melbournians unfortunately share that old European inclination to believe that regular showering and use of deodorant are lifestyle choices.  Even more so,  it seems,  as we move into the colder months.  No people,  even though the average daily maximum temperature has dropped to twenty,  that is NOT the sign for you to stop showering till spring.

Not surprisingly the phenomenon is at its most,  shall we say, pervasive in the gym.  What makes it particularly nauseating there is that it's supplemented by another interesting little European trait,  namely a total inability to see the signs all over the walls saying  "Please use a sweat towel during your workout."  So many people both in Europe and here in mini-Europe just do not seem to see any reason to bring a towel with them at all,  while others do bring a towel but don't seem to understand what it is for,  namely to place on the benches under your sweaty body so that said bench is not left  "pre-lubricated"  for the next unfortunate user.  For them it's just a handkerchief-sized thing that they wipe their foreheads with occasionally.  (Actually I can only speak for Germany in this respect;  for all I know gym users in the sweatier lands of the Mediterranean may be diligent in ensuring there is a towel between them and any bench surface at all times.  But somehow I doubt it.)  While not all gym-goers here stink and some do use towels,  there is nonetheless considerable overlap between the towelless and the odiferous.  Sometimes I really,  really wish I wasn't a gym addict.