The Way We Live, Sunday 12 December – What’s Normal?

Oprah’s coming. Look busy.   Or better still look normal.  As I write this Team Oprah are scouring the country to find a normal Aussie family for her to bunk down with for a night. And you know what I immediately thought? Thank God. Finally Americans are going to see for themselves that we have carpet. (Don’t laugh. On my first trip to the States fifteen years ago someone asked me if we had carpet.  I thought that was possibly the dumbest thing someone could ask me.  I was wrong. Minutes later I was asked if we celebrated Columbus Day. And PS did we have the same days of the week?)

So hurrah that we’re being given an opportunity to showcase Australian life as an English-speaking, carpet loving nation that has nada to do with Christopher Columbus.   But then I thought a bit more about Oprah’s desire to spend time with a “normal” Aussie family and I thought, “Yeah, good luck with that.”

Somewhere there’s an Aussie family who are going to have to try and pack their “crazy” away with the bad plates and the ugly vase when Oprah comes to visit. Because here’s the thing I’ve realised over the past few months — none of us are normal. We’re all just a little bit loco.

Take me. In the past few months, I’ve taken to stacking the dishwasher in a certain way. I feel this need to keep all the utensils together. All the forks in one compartment. All the knives in another.  It’s weird, I know.  I hear you.  Because it’s not like I don’t have three million other things to do and what the hell difference does it make having all the forks together?  I’ve got a total segregation thing happening.  But I’m not alone (okay, I might be alone in my dishwasher fastidiousness).  Other people I know have a thing about pegs.  When they hang out the washing, the pegs have to match.  Same colour pegs for each item.  Turn it up a notch and some folks are matching the pegs to the colour of the item.  See? I think that sounds way more nuts than my dishwasher thing but then I may be in OCD denial.

A certain person I know can’t stand odd numbers. Only likes even numbers. Unless it’s an even number that can be divided by three. Then he hates that number the way some people hate brussel sprouts. Or Sarah Palin.

And not so long ago I heard a woman talking about the fact she doesn’t like dirty clothes being put in the washing machine. Because the clothes would make the machine dirty.  Yep.

So Oprah, all I can say is good luck.  And if you can find a normal Aussie family you should definitely put them on TV.  I’d certainly like to see them.

PS: Next week’s column is all about Christmas traditions. If you have one you’d like to share, email it to me at


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  1. Suzie G on January 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Oh, I have a dishwasher problem too – only I know how to stack it, put it that way. If someone else stacks it, I come by later and rearrange it. And guess what – I can fit more in! Huzzah!!

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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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