I was walking down an inner-Melbourne street the other day, possibly ‘on my way to’ or ‘coming back from’ the bottle shop, the memory is a bit fuzzy; when a car screamed by and the passengers yelled something at me. The car was bright purple with a white pinstripe, spouting techno music and boasting a spoiler you could see from space. I realised that the occupants were obviously important members of society, possibly the sons of Diplomats or maybe even celebrities. I perked up my ears and listened, as I knew what they were going to say was pure verbal gold and I cursed the fact that I didn’t have my Dictaphone ready.
“RANGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!” was the greeting I received from my fellow man, and the car screeched away in a plume of exhaust fumes before they could finish their sentence.
I shifted the box of goon from one shoulder to another and pondered as to their meaning. Despite all appearances of friendliness by this pair of youngsters, I had a rather niggling feeling that they were attempting to insult me.
But what puzzled me was the use of the word ‘Ranga’ as an insult. Did they really think that I am offended if you mention the colour of my hair? My hair is one of the more awesome things about me. Only 1%-2% of the population has red hair. That’s right. We’re rare. And there are heaps of upstanding citizens that are redheads. Prince Harry. Li-Lo. That weird creature on the I.N.G. ads.
It then occurred to me that it isn’t just about the hair. The term ‘Ranga’ refers to some species of sub-humans that plays sport badly and explodes in the sunlight. They are normally swathed in fluro-coloured zinc and squint a lot. I don’t know why they squint. And while I do have red hair, I don’t believe I have exploded in sunlight. Well, maybe once.
It astounded me to think that people actually get a bit huffy about being called this term. ‘Ranga’ is an awesome term! Do you know that there is a beer called ‘Ranga Red’? The word ‘Ranga’ comes from ‘Orang-utan’ and they are like, the coolest apes ever! Everywhere I have gone in life, people have loved my ranga-ri-ness, frequently likening me to orang-utans and pretending to shelter me when the sun came out.
But back to the dudes in the car, who were obviously concerned that I wasn’t aware of my hair and felt the need to draw my attention to it. I wondered at their poor choice of subject. There is a whole cornucopia of insult-able things about me that they could have a field day with. Though they would have to slow the car down substantially to yell them all at me. Here are a few of them:
- Moths scare me.
- I used to have a crush on John Farnham when I was 5.
- I have peed myself in public before.
After wiping away some tears remembering this last item, I realised that these boys were probably in Broadmeadows by now, judging by the speed of their car, and it was useless arguing with them. I also realised that I had been standing on the pavement for at least ten minutes, clutching a case of fruit punch flavoured wine while staring into space. A crowd had started to gather and things were getting awkward.
I could only hope that one day a really big 8-foot-tall good-looking ranga who wasn’t allergic to the sun could waylay those boys and convince them that rangas were a thing of beauty and a joy forever. But where can I get an Orang-utan with the power of speech that will do that for me?