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Lorenz Gude - Short Writing
Bit of Biff

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Bit of Biff
An African Moment

An initiation into the rage of human experience

About 3 oclock on Sunday I went to the concert celebrating Aboriginal survival on the Perth foreshore organised annually by my friend Marlene. I took the train using my new seniors ticket that gives me free public transport on Sundays for the first time. I had gone last year too and the scene was similar with hordes of young people flocking into town to see the fireworks display that follows the concert in the evening. This year I noticed that a significant number of the young women had taken actual Australian flags and made skirts and tops out of them. There was quite a variety from the very revealing to the downright modest. To someone who is both an Australian and an American it was an interesting experience. Americans would regard the use of the national colours as dressmaking fabric as highly disrespectful of the US flag and it just wouldnt happen as a general thing. But I know that Australians feel differently. It is wartime, but unless the polls are completely wrong, I would say the great majority of these young women would have been anti war. Their wearing of the flag an expression of their Australianness. Perhaps not an anti war protest per se - but an assertion that right now to be young and Australian IS to be anti war.

The concert itself was uneventful but very hot. I lasted a couple of hours and a couple of good dances with Marlene to a country band from Broome. After the concert on the way back to the train station I sensed some sort of disturbance on the street. There was a young girl across the street that seemed to be the focus of attention near a group of perhaps four or five other young people - one was dressed in a rabbit suit with whom she might have been connected. She had on the shortest of mini skirts and an equally miniscule halter-top all made from the Australian flag. She seemed to trying to pick up something that had been dropped on the street but I couldnt see what her difficulty was except perhaps she couldnt do it without showing everyone her underwear. The skirt really was so short that it only covered walking upright.
With whatever had happened probably over I walked on and then saw two more girls on the other side of the street dressed in identical outfits to the first one. These two were having a serious fight but eerily hadnt yet drawn the attention of the crowd on my side of the street the way the first girl had. They looked about 14 - not fully grown in height, with young girl hips, but full breasts. They had identical long blonde hair in flowing ringlets and builds as well as the skimpy flag outfits. They could have been sisters - twins even from across the street and they were really fighting. Holding on to each other and punching each other in the head for all they were worth. It was bizarre with the identical costumes and hairdos.
 
Superficially, it was more like a put on mud wrestling exhibition, except for the clear intent each had to hurt the other. Beneath the surface it looked like three close teenage friends had made sexy costumes together for the big fireworks night out and there had been a terrible falling out. Teenage girls often mirror each other this way I am told by a female friend who went to high school here in Perth and if they fall out the antipathy between the former friends was often strong vicious was the word she used and commonly ended in physical fighting in the girls lavatories. Another cultural difference the girls in my American high school were more well known for defaming each other on the girls room walls sometimes in bright red lipstick - than getting into fights.

In the shoving and struggling breasts came out of the halters and swung with the punches and kicks. Finally one of them got toppled over on her back - legs toward us, wide apart - underpants thoroughly exposed. Surprisingly they proved to be the maxi cotton variety not the briefs that would have been congruent with the rest of the outfit. Perhaps she was a more conservative suburban girl underneath that she first appeared. They also were a very ordinary aqua that certainly didnt match the true blue of the Australian flag further creating the impression she hadnt begun the evening expecting what was happening. This situation lasted for perhaps 10-15 seconds as the other girl held her down and alternately punched and choked her. Abruptly the girl with the aqua underpants broke loose and ran away barefoot down the street like a deer looking over her shoulder to see if her opponent was following and then cut across the street to the side I was on to lose herself in the crowd. You could see the fear of pursuit give way to the fear of being arrested as soon as she was away from the fight.
 
The winner walked the opposite way down to the corner where I had noticed the first girl and the person in the rabbit suit - swaggering with her shoulders exaggerated and her chest puffed out. As I walked to the train station I felt compassion for those girl's discovery that their humanness was neither what they thought it was nor what they had been told it was supposed to be. When I got to the train station there were upwards of fifty cops milling about. They had someone bailed up for an open bottle of beer.

This incident took place in January 2003 in Perth Western Australia. All material copyright 2003 by Lorenz Gude