It's my first Christmas Day in America - memorable enough, even without the 45-minute power outage earlier this evening... The power is now back on, just in time to prevent the looting and pillaging, and so we present, courtesy of a TC reader...
Things You Can (Finally) Do Now That You're in America:
[And some suitably British comments from me thereon...]
10. See A Clockwork Orange. Decide if it was worth the wait.
Ah, we got this one an unseemly short period after Kubrick's death, though I'd watched it in Paris some years previously; bootlegs of it had been doing the rounds for years too. And no, it wasn't worth the wait, and certainly not a ban for 27 years. N.B. Nor has civilization collapsed into anarchy and chaos since its release. Er, well, actually it has, but that's more to do with Railtrack and the weather than Stanley Kubrick.
9. Buy the "X-rated" version of Linsey's Lesbian Seduction. See what
Linsey Dawn McKenzie has been up to in America.
Again, our beloved censors finally realised censoring videos was pointless when we could all go on the Net or buy a satellite dish and get our fixes of porn elsewhere. Indeed, they've generally been lightening up: The Exorcist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre have both been passed recently, and I think the latter even got shown on network TV. Probably be a while before it makes it onto CBS...
8. Buy and drink Samuel Adams, Rolling Rock, Pyramid Ales or Pete's Wicked.
Grudgingly admit to your friends that no, American beer isn't all bad.
Things have certainly improved since my first trip to America. Sam Adams is eminently drinkable, and widely available too. That used to be the problem: every area had good beers, but move 50 miles away and no-one had heard of them, so you had to start "sampling" all over again. What a pity. :-) Leinenkugel's is my current favourite, but testing will continue throughout the festive season... However, I have had the delightful revelation that most American beer is in screw-top bottles that simply look like they need a bottle-opener...
7. Enjoy a meal at Roy Roger's, Jack-in-the-Box, or Carl's Jr. Grudgingly
admit to your friends that no, American fast-food isn't ALL like McDonald's -- bad.
Four weeks here, and I've yet to have a McD-burger -- there aren't many culinary areas my vegan ex-housemates and I agree on, but the (lack of) qualities in that chain probably scores. Not tried any of those you list, I admit, but there's no shortage of non-major-chain fast food, although I guess see #8 for the problems this could cause when travelling. While places like The Jade Palace here in Phoenix exist, I won't be troubling Ronald McD.
6. Learn to like Taco Bell in place of Indian curries. Fail.
Spicy Mexican food isn't too far removed from spicy curries; read tortilla in place of naan bread and you're almost there. My girlfriend remains one of the few people I know who can consume a chicken phal (beyond a vindaloo) without flinching, so there must be some similarity, since she has been living in Phoenix for a decade. On the other hand, feed her horseradish sauce and she bursts into tears (almost literally!), while I smile sweetly and tuck in...
5. Rent unedited XXX-rated films without fuzzy spots or black dots--legally,
cheaply, and guilt-free. Hole up in your home for a week.
Legally and cheaply, I give you, but I think we're a little short of guilt-free, since they haven't made it into Blockbuster Video yet. They are only carried either in "specialist" stores, or in entirely separate section behind a curtain at the back. I have yet to pluck up the courage to go beyond the veil... If you want truly guilt-free, check out Amsterdam!
4. Buy a pistol and fire it.
Arizona: a state where fireworks are totally banned, yet you can own a gun at age 12... Go figure. This one may take some working up to, despite my gun range session on Valentine's Day in '99. However, a friend has offered to take me out hunting, even though I fear I would probably be more of a danger to him than any of the local wildlife...
3. Go to a country-and-western bar. Chat with locals. Ascertain that
yes, some Americans have a backwards, antiquated view of English and
Europeans dating from the 1700's.
"We have both types of music: country and western." Eugh. C&W is not, in my humble opinion, America's greatest gift to world culture, ranking right down there with McDonalds and most of Disney's recent output. If I was to enter such a place, I would insist on playing up to their stereotypes, dressing in a frock coat and monocle, while pretending to be an Earl. Possibly on a mission from Her Majesty to investigate the possibility of reclaiming our colony. Bar-brawl, anyone?
2. Enjoy affordable, full-contact lap dances! :-)
My girlfriend would likely regard this as infringing on her personal territory, and I am more than happy to go along with her on this one! :-) However, one of the things I genuinely do love America for is freedom of speech and expression, enshrined in the Constitution. Precisely how full-contact lap-dances fit under this umbrella seems to vary from state to state, but I'm with the ACLU, defending the rights of consenting adults, whether I'd want to follow suit or not...
And the Number One thing you can do now that you're finally in America...
1. Enjoy your stay and our hospitality! Hope you find yourself at home! Happy holidays to you!
And that is one I'm happy to accept without the need for any further comment at all. Have a good festive season, wherever you are reading this...