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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why I Love the United States

I had an American boyfriend once. He was a Major in the U.S. army and had been sent to our garrison city for twelve months on a kind of swap deal with an Australian Major or something.

In truth, I think my main attraction to him was his American accent, which was mid-western so he told me. All I know is that he sounded like Weird Al Yankovic and that turned me on.

He was an engineer and extremely introverted as many engineers are…you know, looked at his feet a lot, but it was fun to quiz him about his life in the States.

But it’s not just the accent I love about Americans… there are other things.

I love the fact they have free speech over there.

I love the fact that even though they RUN the Oscars they still usually give many of the accolades to the Poms and Aussies.

I love their sense of humour; the smart talk, the Jewish humour, the unexpected.

I love the fact that their idea of a slice of pizza is the equivalent to half one of our large pizzas.

But more than anything I love the fact that they sometimes get Australia and Austria confused.

I travelled to the United States with my then-husband back in the late Eighties. We flew directly from our city in North Queensland to New York. It was a long, long flight... against the turn of the Earth and we arrived at 6:00 am.

I’d recently given up smoking and was in a foul, evil, pugnacious mood, whinging and complaining about anything and everything. 

Thinking we’d have a couple of hours sleep and hit the sidewalk for some tourist shenanigans at about midday was the unlikely plan.

At 11:00 am we woke up, showered and lugged ourselves downstairs. Within minutes the jetlag hit me like a Boeing 747. It felt as though I’d been poisoned and I immediately spun round on my heels angrily and staggered back up the elevator and into bed. When I awoke it was midnight. Our first day of a three day visit in the Big Apple we had spent sleeping in a musty hotel room.

We ventured out in the city they say 'never sleeps' and found a little Irish bar. We sat there for a few hours making friends with the barman, who bizarrely had an aunt who was a Catholic nun who lived on an island just north of our Queensland home town.

I remember walking around that night with the surreal feeling I was about to fall off the world. It was something about having arrived at pretty much the other side of the planet in such a short time.

At one stage in Time Square we became disoriented whilst looking for Little Italy. Naturally, in my nicotine withdrawal rage, I blamed my then husband. There was a police station set up in Time Square back in the Eighties.

“Go in and ask the cops where it is!” I ordered my then-husband, Ralphie.

“No, you go!” he cringed.

So up I marched to the (very good looking) NYPD cop behind the counter and using my most flirtatious toothy smiled enquired, “Excuse me but could you give us directions to Little Italy?”

I can’t remember what he said but I do recall he wasn’t very impressed with the Austrian tourist who dared to ask such a bloody stupid question when he was urgently dealing with murders and heinous crimes on Fifth Avenue or wherever they happen. We were smartly sent on our way.

Ralphie’s Australian accent was so strong no-one in the United States could understand him.

I’d listen to him on the phone ordering room service with a sense of growing irritation.

Me, getting irritated with him, that is.

“Ken oi ev a cup a tay en a hairm sairn-widge?”

“Oi sed, ken oi ev a cup a tay en a hairm sairn-widge?

This would go on for ten minutes until he’d finally give up and hand the phone to me.

“Can he have a cup of tea and a ham sandwich?” I’d snap, squinting my eyes threateningly at Ralphie. “Right! Room 504 then… thanks.”

I’d glare at him disparagingly… why couldn’t he speak properly?

We fought our way around the country, arguing publicly on the tourist bus in Washington DC… much to the amusement of the other passengers.

We had a fight in New Orleans when I realised I couldn’t buy Nicorettes in the United States without a doctor’s prescription .

We had a huge barney on a visit to the Smithsonian Museum and a massive, explosive hostile situation in San Francisco when he accidentally drove on the wrong side of the road.

Disneyland put me in a vicious mood when I realised I could not purchase a glass of wine on the premises for love nor money and then we had a few harsh words after I found a long black hair in my donut in Tijuana. It was clearly his fault the hair was manifestly entangled in the dough.

Don’t even get me started on what emerged when we went to see the Spruce Goose.

In retrospect I should have just bought a packet of cigarettes.

Even on the way back to Australia, when we were upgraded to a luxurious suite at one of the Hawaiian Sheratons, we had the biggest brawl of all and wound up sleeping in separate rooms for three nights.

But despite all that... I still love the U.S. I plan on going back there with Scotto one day.

But this time I’ll pack the Nicorettes.

Linking up with Grace at With Some Grace