So the AO’s over, but you’re all sad like me and can’t believe summer of tennis is over. All is not lost. Get your favourite tennis match queued up on TV, and enjoy the AO experience.
1. Pack your bag
There’s no couch sitting without it. You will need sunscreen – lots of it – water bottles, but of course no glass or cans. On your way to the couch, allow yourself to be intercepted for a “bag check” by a dimwitted guard who will ask you casually for cans or glass without actually looking. Or worse, someone who insists you empty your carefully packed bag from top to bottom, including your picnic pasta salad and little jar of olives (this did happen to a group of old ladies behind me). Moving along now.
2. Scan your ticket.
Oh wait, you haven’t got an at home ticket scanner. Here’s the analogy, then.
Go to your front door. Ask a random stranger to attempt to open the door ahead of you, using the key to your neighbour’s house (i.e. tomorrow’s session not today’s) and inserting it the wrong way (scanning barcode wrong way up). After twenty five tries and half an hour, give him your key and squeeze in behind him.
3. Time to watch your tennis match.
I know you’ve got a comfy leather couch at home, but now
is not the time. Find a nice solid board – something guaranteed to leave your ass, even the “most famous” of asses, in absolute agony by the end of the day. If you’re a prima donna, you can find a piece of foam – ideally emblazoned in a bright blue corporate logo – to cushion your tushy. This only applies if you’re about to watch a lame, grown up audience match. If you’re planning on joining the party on Margaret court arena, there’s no cushy tushy for you or you’ll be laughed out of the Freakinator section.
4. Feel like a drink?
No worries. First, fill up your fridge with freezing cold beer. Put a lock on the fridge. Add a contraption that only allows you to get a beer if you wait for 26 minutes out front and insert seven dollars of hard earned cash. Beer must be poured in a leaky plastic cup which is completely spilled over by the time you get to your destination. You can sit on the couch with your half full cup of beer knowing that each sip equates to approximately sixty three and a half cents. If you want a snack with that, add another forty two minutes to your wait time, and make sure you pay a minimum of two dollars thirty per bite. It’s the only way.
5. Need the bathroom? Wait. Wait.
Wait. What are you waiting for? Changeover, of course. This, of course is the time that the game will go to seventeen deuces before you can walk out. Go to your bathroom. Then wait. And wait. And wait a little longer. After fourteen minutes in line, you can go in, but make sure there are liberal amounts of unidentified liquid on the floor, crap all over the seat toilet paper everywhere (bonus points if it sticks to your shoe), and none in the actual cannister. No liquid soap either. On your way out, make sure you bump into someone on her way in – sisters can be borrowed as props.
6. Simulate sunburn.
Stand in front of a hot oven for thirty minutes. Sixty or more if you’re game. Rub your skin with sandpaper. Try to make your burnt, raw skin feel better with a tiny dollop of aloe vera that wouldn’t cover a baby’s bum because you’re rationing the stuff. Watch it peel for the next two weeks. That’s right. Two weeks. (Mine is peeling as we speak).
7. Player Stalking.
Go for an hour run up hills, weaving through people, down stairs and across crowds. Make sure that your target isn’t certain – this is because you’ve caught a glimpse, or heard from someone, who heard from someone else, that someone you love is on the other side of the park.
Run for your life. Get there and there is a crowd of a hundred people. Stand on top of a concrete pot plant and nearly break your neck. Catch a glimpse – it’ll look something like this – and declare yourself happy and all your wishes fulfilled.
For extra points, find a glossy magazine that you in no way want ruined or damaged. Try a mint first edition of Great Expectations, but a signed AO Program will do. Insist on holding it out at a certain angle, on a certain page, for a full fifteen minutes, exercising your triceps and squashing any thirteen year old who gets in your way. Lose your precious Nole-fingerprinted Sharpie in the process.
Get really involved in a five setter. Intensely involved.
Then watch the clock tick over past 12.10 am. That’s it folks – you’ve missed your train. Now you might be at home, but if you want to live the experience properly, it’s not just about toddling into your bedroom when it’s over. You have one of two options:
9. The joys of public transport.
As soon as the clock strikes midnight, make a run for it. Brace yourself for change of ends, then run for your life. Hail the tram out the back, or if you miss it, race as fast as you can, listening to your thongs flip flopping against your sweaty feet as you race past Lexus Centre, Hiisense and MCG carpark. Get to the station and feel your legs seize up on you as you try to climb that last bit, the ramp, while you hear the train honk and know that it’s pulling away from the station.
10. Taxi rank.
Think of the longest queue you’ve ever been in – airport security before a public holiday, maybe? Multiply it by ten, then change the people to the kind waiting outside a club on a Saturday at 3am. Make everyone exhausted, drunk and sunburnt. Wait. Wait. Wait.
That was my attempt at therapy.
But no… bring on the hard seats, the long lines, the toilet queues and the never-ending shuffle inside RLA concourse… bring on the noisy Hellas and the fabulous freakinators in MCA, the nosy corporate attendants and the tired ticket scanners….. the chattering fuchsia-clad ballboys, the towering Russians and flag-clad Serbians, the wannabe wags in homemade singlets and sparkly banners, the foreign coaches wearing passes proudly stalking the grounds, the ITF officials strolling around in fluoro yellow, the dancing penguins in Grand Slam Oval, the “programs programs” kids out front.
BRING IT ALL BACK I SAY.