ยป Gallery / 2000 / Australia and New Zealand /
Lobstralia 2000

The Road to Melbourne

Get-away day dawns gray but bright and Eric and I take the car back to Rundle Street, Eric for shoes and me for the minidisc player that will set my mind at ease. I’ve decided to take my lumps and chalk this purchase up to the Rack Tax, that unpredictable fee all men must pay from time to time. It’s the form of the more general Idiot Tax that applies specifically to men doing stupid things around women’s breasts, and as the penalties can often add up to court costs and divorce, I consider myself lucky.

There are two places to buy minidisc players in downtown Adelaide, one the Sony shop I spotted last night, the other a place called Grenfell Hi-Fi. Or Grendel Audio. Or Grenson Hi-Fi. I forget pretty quickly as I jog up and down Rundle Mall, the long stretch of Rundle Street closed to traffic and packed with department stores (Target, etc.) and small opal and jewelry shops. Little Victorian arcades branch off in spots, and I have to check each one to see if maybe it’s the Grenfell Street the guy at the record store told me about. I race the entire length of the mall twice, each time ending up at that Sony place, before another friendly record store clerk draws me a map and points me away from the mall itself and up a busy side street.

Grenfell’s prices are prohibitive – something like $A700 for a recording model. Running out of time before the ladies get booted from the apartment, I head back to the Sony place to pay the tax man. The shop’s called Video World, they specialize in Sony products, and they just so happen to have a few MZ-E33s – the $A390 play-only jobs – in the back. The salesman is friendly, resembling a heavy-set British game-show host. Looking at the display I see “duty-free $320” written in small print.

“How do I get the duty-free price?”

“Well, you have to reside in another country and be leaving Australia in the next 30 days.”

“I’LL TAKE IT!”

“Right! I’ll just need to see your air ticket.”

“Oh yeah. Uh, I’ll be right back.”

Hey, this is legit – I live in Maryland and I’m leaving in a week. Back at the Melbourne Mews we pack up the car and I stuff all the airline ticket and visa paperwork I can find in my pockets. The salesman’s a little surprised to see me back, but everything checks out. I’ve got enough of a player to get us through the trip, it takes AA batteries so no paying extra for a recharger I can’t use in the States, and I chopped $A70 off the price. Shout-outs to the boys at Video World.

As we roll out of town and I lounge in the back seat listening to the first Oz mix disc, my mood soars. I’m a kid with a shiny new toy, and who cares if it’s raining again?