3.27.2008

5 Things Non-Americans notice about Americans

World views are interesting when they are different from your own. They make you think about things in a different light. Over the course of two years of hanging out with non-United-States-ians, I've seen their reactions to a few things that seem to be consistant.

1. Lawns.

Even in my own little townhouse, I am alotted a section of "lawn" where I am free to grow whatever I like - as long as its grass. The idea of having your own land and yet not doing anything with it seems very odd to the rest of the world. I have been told by two people groups, that any personal plot of dirt is readily converted into a vegetable garden, vineyard, olive grove, orchard and/or animal stall.

A vegetable plot is about as ambitious as the average american would attempt. The common folly of planting way too much of one plant usually leads to a panic of passing off the undersized extra produce to unsuspecting acquaintances. "Do you like tomatoes?" "Well, of course!" "GREAT! Please take this metric ton off my hands."
"Are those cherry tomatoes?" "No."

2. Car Accidents

Driving in America compared to driving overseas is like saying you're a decorated war hero because you were really good at Halo. Rules in other countries are just mere suggestions of what you could do to prevent death, but usually as long as you are all going the same way, Godspeed. Here, on an empty highway, with a little mist in the air, an American will still somehow manage to hit a pole and cause a tractor-trailer to jack-knife 4 miles away.

3. Supermarkets

An American Supermarket is something that only makes sense to a native born. We have trained ourselves to recognize the marketing and advertising tricks to understand what it is we're looking at. The box with the orange tiger does NOT mean that tiger meat is included. The crisco package with the chocolate chip cookie on it is not trying to be decieving. Butter IS in the store, though nothing is labeled as such ... just "Promise," "Blue Bonnet," "Smart Balance," Country Crock ... and even "I can't believe it's not butter" which is rather unhelpful.

4. Sugar

Americans are addicted to sugar. One actually has to look really hard and pay a little more to get something without sugar, corn syrup, or High Fructose Corn Syrup which should be called what it is: More Sugar. I have a sweet tooth (though filled with a porceline resin) and have taken the most dangerous sweets into my bloodstream. To date, there's only one dessert that made me question its safety - The O'Charley's Caramel Pie. Ow. That one stung a bit. Some Non-Americans look at frosting and go "why?" to which we reply with a muffled "what?" while cramming it into our gaping maw.

5. Americans don't speak English

Other cultures take great pains to speak English to move along to success in the world. Yet, when they come here, they are puzzled to learn that they can't understand a word of what we are saying. This is not their fault. It's ours.
"It is nice to meet you."
"Say there, you ain't from 'round here, is ya?"
"I'm sorry?"
"Whut. I says where you from?"
"I am from China."
"Tarnashun! That's a far piece of travellin' ya did there. Wanna take a seat?"
"Take it where?"

So if you see someone from another country and wish to approach them in conversation, please remember: They are the normal one

3.19.2008

TAGline. You're it?

Taglines are hard to come up with. Thousands of dollars are spent on them and usually the end result is "we paid how much?"

Well, Ford - our beloved firebomb maker of automobiles - has come up with a new one:

Ford. Drive One.

Three words. Three very expensive words. Well, maybe just two words. "Ford" should be free.
So next month there should be ads that will look like this ...

Getting pushy? Not really. At least it didn't say "buy one." Now, I have had some terrible Ford experiences. I did drive one, so even if this is something to add to a checklist of things to do, I'm clear. But let me get my little red pen out and see what happens...Ah, add a little 'c' in there and suddenly it ranks up there with Found On Road Dead. But for those who think they shouldn't be so direct, how about this...
There's always time for manners. Actually, this sounds more like desperation. Well, admitting failure is the first step to ... eh, it doesn't matter. Let's try another one...

Zing! There seems to be a rash of recalls which is not a pleasant thing even for a baby's toy. No matter the type of "recall," there's a sense that you are just one downshift away from being engulfed in a fireball. Ok, one last one ...Bitter? Nah, I just ... ok, I am. I'm not Unamerican for bashing Ford. I just would like not to die in a metal deathtrap of glass and oil. My forefathers fought for that right and I plan to make them proud.

3.18.2008

Oranges Poranges - Back by popular request!

The following is a true story. The office this took place in is a place of former employement where I worked with my wife. In no way could this happen where I am now for I would not have as much privacy to duplicate this without a pondering audience.

I bought an orange today. I rarely buy fruit, but in a moment of healthy thinking, I bought it with the intentions of eating it at work as a light snack. Upon my desired snack time, I retrieved my orange from the company refrigerator and became perplexed by a problem. How do I eat this orange without covering myself in orange juice? Eating the oranges in slices, with skin intact, would be the best bet. Fruit with wrappers want to help you. Looking for a knife in the office kitchen yielded no results and an orange peeler was out of the question. All I found was a plastic spoon. Innovation? Ready for a challenge to do something different, I marched back to my office with my orange and spoon-that-wants-to-be-a-knife.

Placing the orange on a half stack of Post-it® notes for easy cleanup, I began making an incision with the plastic spoon. My progress was very encouraging, although the spoon made more of a curved cut rather than the straight one that I required. To deal with this I just simply cut a circle about the size of a nickel and lifted up the skin.

Now I had an orange with a hole in it. No turning back now or I lose 68 cents and would have to explain to my wife where my orange went. Things like this she notices. My first circular cut turns out to be too narrow for my spoon so I elongate the cut into an oval, trying not to spill the juice that is squirting in abundance now. Wishing I had a grapefruit spoon, I remove the next portion with a little more effort but nothing to severe. Now my orange has a large oval hole. My Post-it® note base is stained but stable. I now have ample room for my spoon. But just what am I suppose to do now? I don't know. I once stuck a straw in an orange like they did in TV commercials (that doesn't work by the way) and had some success if I pre-mashed the inside of the orange. So, with this knowledge, I start to stab the innards of my orange repeatedly. Once enough pulp was loose, I fixed my mouth around it and tried to drink my orange. Knowing that my wife was away in her office and my boss was at the dentist, I figure I'm in the clear although this mash-slurp-repeat method is not very efficient.

Fearing that anyone will come by, I tear with my fingers at the orangy rind. I throw the spoon away, labeling it a traitor. As I make progress on one side, I decide to eat it like an apple. I'll be darned if there's one way to eat an orange! The juice starts coming in full force. Remembering my Tangerine staining incident from a month ago, I hunch over my trashcan frantically trying to eat my orange, deflect juice, and dislodge rind bits into the trashcan. I have become an animal.

Now that my hands were drenched in Vitamin C, it dawns on me that my phone could ring or that someone would come by. Could I answer my phone with my elbows? - were those footsteps? Without shame, I eat the last two slices as anyone else would in this world and walk to the restroom with hands outward, sticky sweet with orange pulp. I wash my hands with odd-fragranced berry hand soap and return berry soft to my orange aroma-ed office. Sitting at my desk I hear my wife come around and take some papers off the laser printer and then go back again. Safe. I look into my trashcan and see the mutilation that took place moments before. Unceremoniously, I cover the pieces with some discarded envelopes. I tear off the stained Post-it® note and begin my work anew.

I have snacked.