There’d hardly be an Australian who, by now, didn’t know of that clever car insurance advertisement featuring Rhonda and her Indonesian waiter, Ketut. For those overseas readers, it’s one of the most popular ads on television, as the hapless holidaying Rhonda flirts shamelessly with Ketut on a Balinese beach. Lobster red with sunburn, apart from her white rimmed eyes which have been hidden by her sunnies, Ketut tells Rhonda: “You look so hot today, like a sunrise.”
Now, I don’t want to brag, but before this ad was even aired, six months ago I was in a similar situation to Rhonda in Bali. And given I’m going back there next week, it seems timely to share my good fortune.
It was Easter and my mate Trish and I had flown down to escape the clutches of oppressive Singapore, where we’d both been working. Trish, a typical POM, promptly plonked herself on the nearest lounge chair overlooking the ocean, and proceeded to fry her lily white body for the next four days. I think I saw her go in the water once. She was a handy holiday companion, however, rising before dawn to beat the Germans to the sun lounges, bagging us two of the best, and then meeting me for breakfast. Only a European knows how to play that dangerous little game.
Each day Trish would frazzle up a storm, come to sunset drinks all glowing and glowering with sunburn, and proceed to do it all over again the next day. I, on the other hand, am a typical Australian who experienced a lifetime of sunshine in my youth, and now sits under a tree wearing something akin to a Burqa. That is, if I’m not in the water, which is often. But each to their own, it worked for us, and we had a fabulous time.
In between dips one day, Trish and I had a boozy beachside lunch, and it was at that point I met my own Ketut. A Balinese waiter approached our table, and once he established from where I had hailed, he replied: “Ah, Australia, kangaroo, sexy.” At this point Trish and I both looked at it each other in bemusement. Not sure if Trish had ever seen a kangaroo in the wild before, but I certainly had, and I’m not entirely certain “sexy” is how you would describe Skippy.
“Sexy?” I asked the waiter, a little incredulously.
He, in turn, looked confused, and replied: “Not kangaroo, I meant Coca Cola. Coca Cola very sexy.” And then, as if to explain, he looked at my body, and in thin air, traced the curves as one would an old-fashioned glass Coke bottle.
And then he promptly departed.
For the rest of the trip, whenever Trish was looking for me in the ocean or the pool, she simply needed to think of a bottle of Coke, and up I’d pop. Since my time as a Coke bottle in Bali, I have returned to Australia to live, and as we speak Trish is packing her belongings to return to the UK.
Meanwhile, Rhonda and Ketut have become such celebrities Down Under, that they will be joining the likes of Nicole Kidman and Prince Charles on the Melbourne Cup racing social circuit. For those who don’t know, Rhonda is Western Australian actress Mandy McElhinney and Ketut is Melbourne forklift driver Kadek Mahardika. I suspect neither will ever have to work again.
I won’t be in Melbourne for the Cup this year, but I will certainly be in Bali next week, unfortunately without Trish. So save me an umbrella Rhonda and Ketut. The Coke bottle is arriving and she’s ready to hit the beach. Like a sunrise.