Outdoor Type?

One of our great Australian songs, generally not considered an Australian song, is the Lemonheads' Outdoor Type, sung by the once omnipresent Evan Dando.

The Lemonheads are, of course, an American punk/pop band that peaked in popularity in the late '80s to early '90s, when Dando was youth culture's pin-up dude, radiating the twin virtues of cover-boy good looks and musical credibility.

I count his song as Australian, though, because it was written by an Australian, Maitland's Tom Morgan (variously of the groups Smudge, Sneeze and the Givegoods) and was first recorded by Smudge and released sometime around January 1994 - you can see a live version here - so the Lemonheads' version is actually a cover.

"Always had a roof above me, always paid the rent, but I've never set foot inside a tent. Can't build a fire to save my life, I lied about being the outdoor type," the first verse goes.

A confession of sorts, the song describes how a bloke who can't grow a beard or even fight, who "never owned a sleeping bag, let alone a mountain bike", has fabricated his passions to get into a sporty girl's good graces.

Why I love the song and consider it one of this country's greats is because the situation it so poetically identifies is as relevant today as when it was written in the early '90s, with the single released in 1997.

In fact, it could have been penned in 300BC and I dare say men would have smiled in agreement.

I reckon almost all of us, men and women, have at some stage pretended to be something we're not for the sake of a lover - if not by lying outright, then by omission.

"I hate smokers," she says, and you do your durrying on the days you don't see her and gargle Listerine like a pelican with halitosis before your dates.

"I looove dancing," she enthuses and you close your eyes and try to feel the music like she does, hoping you look a quarter as good doing it.

Surely you've seen a gal at the pub, sipping her vodka, lime and soda, trying to appear excited about the cricket/boxing/football/racing while her man leaps cheering off his stool in ecstasy?

Or what about women who - how do I put this politely? - anxiously roll on to their stomachs for new lovers who persist in driving off road?

The list goes on: men who pretend they actually shower each day, women who feign an easy-going nature or sense of humour, guys who lowball their drug habit or drinking, gals who say "money's not important" to them, lovers of both genders who try to ignore their paramours' politics or deadhead friends.

I know why we do it, because we're afraid they might reject us if we're honest, if we show them the real us.

So we dissemble until we feel safely enough ensconced in the relationship that we can let our smelly old bones tumble out of the closet.

A relationship is essentially a slow unveiling of the two of you; sometimes it takes only weeks for you or them to see something you don't like and end it, other times decades.

I know I'm at a stage in my life where I'm all for brutal honesty.

Any woman I'm interested in could Google most of my skeletons if she wanted to, so I'm prone to say after the second drink: "Yeah, I'm a single dad, don't own property, got herpes, probably depressed, might wank a bit too much at the moment, trying to give up the ciggies, sleep a lot, but I love kids, music, world politics, the ocean and growing tomatoes."

And I can't pitch a tent either.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.