"Have you noticed that none of the women are wearing pants?"
She, of course, was. We were walking down the main drag of Olympic Park, having been unable to park in the Acer Arena carpark due to it being sold out.
"You're a harlot," I said. "Its been difficult to bring up over the years."
"That four year old is better dressed than you."
"It's the vest."
Indeed, the four year old was better dressed than I had ever been in my life. Neat, straight, as if he'd been pulled from a box, he walked past with his parents, heading out of the Acer Arena as the lunch break began. A swarm of people were behind him and his family, the majority of them the nuclear unit, ranging from the young, new ones, to the middle aged, teenage bearing ones. There were prams, which only women pushed. The clothes had this strange sense of community about them, and as we drew closer to the doors of Acer Arena, there began to emerge a realisation that there were a lot of them.
A whole lot.
"I saw the wrestling here, once," S said. "Back when the American thing was popular. I got a parking spot in that lot."
Me, I had been to the Arena to see the Foo Fighters, a few years back. It had been busy, but I'd parked there without any real problems. "Maybe it sold out during the Olympics."
"So, the Olympics and the Jehovah's Witness End of the World Symposium are sharing the same audiences in Sydney?"
"Well, I don't go to either."
And I wouldn't go to this one, either.
Security was referred to as Attendants, and as S and I entered the Arena, intent on having a look around, and maybe sitting in on one of their discussions, we were picked up very quickly. He was a neatly dressed man, Spanish, or so he told us later, and with an ear piece on. He managed to stop us five steps into the compound, asking if he could help us, but with the firm, no nonsense approach that clearly stated that he wasn't going to be letting us past. The word that I am looking for is professional. He was very professional.
"There's over fifteen thousand of us here today," he said. "Last week we had the Spanish Community out here, next week Perth. We try to split everyone up, keep everyone in their communities, avoid any kind of hassles. Here, have a program."
The truth was, I was out of my depth.
I had planned (and planned is, I assure you, not the word you'd describe the five seconds I thought, 'Yeah, why not go?') to walk in, sit down, walk out, do as I please stuff. The Jehovah's Witness security, however, was much more organised, and if S and I wanted to stay, then we would be seated. Something about the way that had both S and I a little wary. We couldn't help but notice that we were being directed out of the door, for example. In hindsight, it was rather like being herded in a polite, but firm matter, and given a program afterwards. Before leaving, we were told that we would have to come back after the break. Outside, in the oddly warm Winter, Jehovah's Witness sat around, chatting, eating, and having a good time. You would never guess that they were involved in an offshoot of Christianity that believed the world was ending around them. But perhaps the morning baptism of people in 'modest' bathing suits had gone some ways to alleviating that.
The pamphlets that we had been given informed us of what we had missed, and what was to come in the afternoon. There was singing. There was conversation about Satan. If I had done any research before I left, I would have realised that surviving the End of the World wasn't really up for discussion, given that the general thrust of Jehovah's Witnesses is that the world is ending as we speak. I did, however, learn from the pamphlet that once the world did end, that 144 000 of the faithful would be resurrected with Jesus, and allowed, well, whatever it is you're allowed when that kind of thing goes on. Also, apparently the faithful believe that when you die, you indeed die, until Jesus decides to resurrect you in the future, and if he does not, then you are, honestly, quite dead.
Eventually, S and I decided that we wouldn't try for being 'seated' in Acer Arena. It was a little too controlled for us, and I guess in the end, the sheer size of the people there, and the way that we stuck out was enough to put us on the back foot, and decide that we would be better served leaving. There was one last image, however, that stuck in my head as we left, having spent our time discussing the clothes, and the ideas from the pamphlet, and that was of a hill, at the end of Olympic Park. It wasn't too large, or small, but it was enough that you could walk up it and stand on it, over looking the arena. It looked rather like those religious pictures you see of a happy, well dressed bunch of people standing on a hill, basking in the glory of God or whatever it is you wish to subscribe too.
Out of my depth, like I said.