The Pro Leisure Tour

In which two leisure gurus compete and win, hands down, at everything.

Only two hours into the drive and they had entered into a Leisurely State of Mind. Bendini had parked his car. From the passenger seat, Terry motioned across the street to a colourful pizza shop. They discussed how odd it was that they had, both of them, attained the desired leisure feeling. And so quickly, so easily and without meditation.

Very odd, muttered Bendini, as they forgetfully floated across the country street. The man who took pizza orders was wiry and looked like he had lived a life. He scribbled onto a docket “Cap. w P/A”, confirmed it with a ‘Yup’ and strode back into the kitchen. Bendini clapped his hands at a Skill Tester, an Escape From LA pinball machine and another amusement game with lollipop prizes. These were stationed next to a dogleg service counter.

Fuck knows, Terry said, that one doesn’t make any sense to me, and pointed to the lollipop one. They put 8 dollars into the Skill Tester and didn't win a single soft toy. The pizza came and they paid, laughing along with jingling machine sounds on the way out.

If you had stopped them in the street, right there in Bairnsdale, Victoria, and asked Who are you guys? What are you doing? They wouldn’t know what to say. They would look a little confused, holding the box of hot pizza, and not because they were particularly dumb or rude. They wouldn’t know because they had, as I already said, gone deep into a kind of leisure coma. They’d probably say We’re hungry, enjoy your evening, and walk back to their car. As it went, nobody paused for a chat. It was autumn tea-time and a Friday night, people were focused on their own lives. Terry and Bendini shared the driving and a family capricciosa on the way north, to Eden.

Chances With Wolves played on the radio as they drove the boundary of a national park. An owl crossed inches above the windshield, but there was no urgent alarm. The car and road and the owl and trees and music were going at 110 kilometres an hour, all in unison.

Terry motioned to a roadside motel, I stayed there once, a few years ago. I was brushing my teeth and my girlfriend came into the bathroom and told me she was shitscared of some strange lady outside. So, I went out there in my undies and asked her what she wanted, Terry showed how he had held the toothbrush passively. She says with crazy eyes, You guys are having a party in there, aren’t ya! I said no. She said, in a weird low whine, you fuckin are ya' fuckin’ cockheads!

Terry kept telling the story. Bendini nodded and thought about eating potato chips. The dark grand eucalypts, stood branch to branch, received a moment's headlamp exposure.

30 kilometres before Eden the Leisurely State of Mind lifted and this caused sudden and great concern. They had been drifting within the cloak of its protective fog and then remembered. Terry and Bendini weren’t simply driving north, but were in fact contestants on the Pro Leisure Tour. The unconscious or amnesiac way of being was core to their plan. It was the essential strategy for success. Basically, if you know you are on the Pro Leisure Tour then you are not on it. Knowing leads to conscious attempts at Leisure. An attempt at leisure will never allow one to reach a state of true leisure, because one will always be asking, Is this truly Leisurely? One must feel leisure.

They discussed this at length, well past the evening car ride. Under a neglected killer whale mural Bendini pitched a blue tent. Terry pissed and admired Eden’s port lights and the strangest illuminated jetty, south of the harbour. They guessed at movements and ideas of other contestants, wondered what type of activities they would enjoy to obtain an ultimate leisure state. Guessing about other contestants was futile and also damaging to their strategy.

They’re just dickheads mate, Bendini sighed and bored down into his sleeping bag. Terry agreed, in his head, and promised not to let the game or the players distract their cosmic decent into leisure. Dickheads, he said boring down to sleep himself.

Mindfullness swept in overnight, the same as a stable, autumn weather system would. The recreational lobe controlled their brains once again, and they conducted an uninterrupted week of leisure business. They woke in a similar fashion each morning. First lining up parcels of food in the heavy wooded campgrounds. Black & Gold Oats, Orange Juice, Sultanas, Long-life Milk, Honey. Bendini made a good porridge out of cheap materials. Parrots above spied plates of diced apple, that were to be added just before serving. They packed down the tent with speed and little thought. Next was to cook up coffee and then use the toilets.

Each National Parks toilet is slightly different, Terry realised as he squatted in another quiet cubicle. He imagined Canberra as he poohed, not so far up the road. The government nerve centre and nations capitol. He thought it strange that a minister or department hadn’t created a ‘National Parks Policy Guide to Consistent Amenities Construction’ or some shit like that.

There was always plenty of dry firewood and views of the ocean. The uncanny weather often capitalised and punctuated their bursts of morning conversation. Cool mornings with a blazing sunrise and warm, offshore afternoons. Bendini kept making that country joke about how nice it is in the sun, but how much nicer it is in the daughter. It was a pretty bad joke. At night winds moved the tree crowns. Sheltered far below they made fires that burnt straight and without smoke, like the timber had been imported from a faraway desert.

They had time and the desire to examine bush foods. Terry had brought a Wreck Bay bush tucker guidebook and was toying with the idea of eating bright orange berries. He also picked up a Bush Cherry Tomato. Once the fruit was peeled away a large corky seed remained. Terry pocketed this for his girlfriend, she’ll bloody love it, he sang walking back to the car.

Instead of eating the berries they found lunch in Take-away stores selling burgers with the lot and milkshakes or ice coffees. They sure did eat well.

Fishing became ritualised and observed daily, with beer. They caught a small flathead and a salmon. Both carefully returned to the ocean. Surfing was the core leisure pursuit and involved hours of driving in which thought was surrendered. Many hours of blind staring at the ocean, attempting to create favourable conditions by altering one’s perception. Ultimately pointless, at the same time ultimately zen.

When the results came in, via social media, Terry and Bendini had left the South Coast region and were nearing the outskirts of Sydney. The travellers had, as Bendini put it, ripped the competition a new leisure arsehole.

We leisured the shit out of em! Terry cried.

They had out-fished, out-gazed, out-eaten, out-camped, out-drank, out-smoked, out-slept and out-zenned the domestic and international competition. The tired car eked towards city lights and the champions became all too aware as their photographs and videos flooded lifestyle websites and tweets. How gratifying it was to see images of their own wetsuits dangling from rustic fences, reposted time and time again. To notice how fine the auburn of their smoke imbued beards appeared on Japanese bespoke camping blogs. Terry closed his eyes, clicked the phone blank and disappeared numerous photo sharing apps and webpages. Both adventurers looked at the city night and exhaled with the conscious power of leisure champions.