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A man in a tight-fitting suit sat down next to me at an out-of-town event and said, Where are you from?
I prayed for mercy. You see, I'd forgotten to bring my sign that says: I'm from Hamilton, Mockery Is a Must and I was scared he'd overlook the opportunity and move on. But he was a comic genius and he didn't miss a beat. I found out later he's from the North Shore - they're pretty smart over there.
"HAMILTON? Arrr-ha-ha-ha." His laugh was half-human, half-pirate.
"I'll talk slowly, then. Arrr-ha-ha-ha."
I wanted to be teamly and laugh with him, because it was such a funny joke, but I choked on my bread roll and got distracted by my cell phone.
"EVERYONE," he shouted, to everyone.
"This one here's from HAMILTON!"
A man approached and stood too close. Then he gyrated. "The old waka-chang-chang. I spent a night out in Hamilton once. The Outback still there?"
At least, I think that's what he said, but he was talking too quickly and I got confused.
Being from Hamilton is a life sentence. The only relief is that we get to be on the receiving end of some really funny, original and intelligent jokes from people who live on the North Shore and stuff.
A woman further along the table grew up in Hamilton, but she didn't mind talking about it because she got out and made something of her life and she hasn't been back in something like 10 years.
"Not much has changed, though," said the man from the North Shore who had a bit of food on his face. It was really funny when he said that.
"It's a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of place."
I hadn't heard that one before. We all laughed.
Poor old Hamilton, everyone agreed. And someone piped up and said they were impressed that, like, Hamilton has, like, a movie theatre and a Starbucks.
"Yeah," I said, "it's not all doom and gloom in Hamilton. But most of the time we sit around and talk about how we can be more like people who live in Auckland."
I told the group that once I had managed to get myself to Canada for a trip. They were impressed.
I told them a shop assistant in Vancouver asked where I was from and when I said New Zealand, she asked if we had TV sets.
Nobody liked that story much, because it's only Hamiltonians who are backward. I mean, Auckland has such an international and metropolitan vibe. Like, have you seen Britomart lately? And you just need to go to SPQR on Ponsonby Road any time and you're guaranteed to bump into a New Zillind celeb.
I interjected. The man with food on his face was grateful for the break because he'd done so much talking and eating and both at the same time, he was starting to sweat a little.
I told them we have our own celebs and even a Rocky Horror statue next to the public toilets on the main street of town.
"I remember those public toilets," said the man who'd spent the night in Hamilton once. And he told a really hilarious story - "only in the Waka-chang-chang!" - and we all but rolled on the floor with laughter.