This article is part of the The Great American Reach Around series.
Melbourne is a place that welcomes anyone and will accept them as they are, as long as they're not from Sydney; mainly because people from Sydney remind us of Americans. There is a Melbourne band who once wrote a fine song about the USA.
"Kill all the flag-waving, red blooded, young Yankee boys;
Don't feel that you need to come and invade us for that, by the way. See, the Australian love of the underdog, the less fortunate, the "battler", is strong in Melbourne. We love watching a loser win something. We love seeing no-hopers try their best and lose even more. It pains me to tell you this, America, but that's just not you. You're too good at everything. You don't have to try. You've conquered the world, so there's no way we can support you. That doesn't mean we don't like you, just that you'll be a target for our jokes until you start losing for a change.
As you'd expect from lovers of competition, we Melburnians are a somewhat sports-obsessed bunch. Australian Rules Football was invented here, and the majority of teams in the entire national league represent suburbs of Melbourne. It's debatable if the biggest thrill for a supporter is watching their team win, or being able to mock their friends when their team loses. Of course, cricket, soccer, tennis and swimming are all popular here, and we've even grudgingly come to accept rugby as a valid spectator sport in recent years. Hell, if there's something on where someone's going to win and someone's going to lose, you'll have no trouble selling tickets to watch it.
Melbourne's identity is defined by being a truly multicultural city. You can find representatives of all nations here, and all cultures are welcomed with open arms as long as they open a small café somewhere in town (preferably with outdoor seating), and hire someone who can make a decent latté. In this, Melbourne exists in sharp contrast to its fellow state capital to the north, Sydney, which likes to call itself multicultural in tourist brochures, but never quite manages to find anywhere for these cultures to make themselves at home. This is probably because of all the space taken up by plush toy kangaroos wearing boxing gloves and authentic balsa wood boomerangs.
It's interesting that Melbourne is often seen as the poorer relation to Sydney when it comes to international views of Australia. Sure, they've got half a million more people than us, and their opera house and silly bridge make it on to the postcards and are iconic symbols of our county. The Sydney folks are even known to refer to us as "Mexicans", cleverly casting themselves as the country's equivalent of America, while playing on the fact that we're located to the south of them.
I'll take that as a compliment. Next time you're coming this way, swing by Melbourne; "Australia's Tijuana".
Sir Mix-a-Lot's classic follow up to "Baby Got Back" has serious unintended consequences.
"Really, Holmes!" I dropped into my seat, shocked. "You are remarkably tall! What are you, six foot six? Six foot eight?"
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