Monday, 26 July 2010

#26 It's not all Smucker's and roses.

I don't want you to get the idea that I love this country. I like this country. A lot. I like Krispy Kremes and silly stop-start sports and pretty women with pretty accents and the movies and the predominance of the colour yellow. Well, I guess the last one is really just New York. But still. I like it.

But I don't love it. There is a lot that I really don't like. Here is a nonexhaustive list of bĂȘte noires, which I will add to in comments whenever I come across more/have had a bad day:

1. The whole point of America to me is right there in the Declaration of Independence: all men are created equal. Clearly this is something that everyone can sign up to. Indeed, most Americans purport to. Now I'm not going to write a whiny left-wing rant about the betrayal of these egalitarian values (if you're interested, look up anything else I've ever written); but I am going to moan about how every American tries desperately to pretend that he isn't American. "I'm Italian". No you're not. "I'm Irish". No you're not. "I'm African". So is everyone, dickhead. JESUS. (He wasn't American, incidentally.)

2. How hard is it, pray tell, to calculate the tax levied on a particular product or service, and add it to the bill? Why do businesses confined to New York still not show tax? They never sell their product with any amount of tax other than that levied by New York City and State. So why not let us in on the secret? And chains tend to charge more in New York, anyway. So not including sales tax on the price tickets isn't saving them any time. It's just infuriating consumers and generating awkward amounts of change of which you can't rid yourself. Who wants to hold up a queue counting cents whilst the cashier glares at you? The homeless of Manhattan would be screwed if shops showed tax on price tags, because people would actually bother to spend their change.

3. Stop wearing sneakers. They are not acceptable work wear. And, if you've chosen to wear black trousers (despite the fact that it's ninety fucking degrees out), please deign to wear black shoes. You wouldn't want to look like a fucking dishevelled cretin now, would you?

4. Whilst we're on the subject of clothes: Yankees caps. I want to see into the mind of any of the two million New Yorkers who has walked into a sporting goods store and thought: "You know what would make me look cool, distinctive and unique: a Yankees cap! Truly I will stand out as both an individual and a discerning sports fan. By allying myself with the most successful franchise in any sport's history, I will subtly induce a halo effect. Passers by will notice my affiliation and determine that I am successful, ruth-less (see what I did there? I'm quite proud of that joke) and unstoppable, in life as in sport. On and off the field, this symbol of sporting prowess will invoke fear and respect. Who cares if I haven't been to a home game in two years, and actually last month I went to see the Mets because it's cheaper?"

More to follow.

1 comment:

  1. 5. I've said it before ( and I'll gladly say it again: I'm very enamoured with American biscuits. But - and I say this tentatively, as I know how annoyed Americans get by British bores preaching about their linguistic inadequacies - 'biscuits' is a silly name.

    It's not just because the British use the word for something else, I promise. And as far as I'm concerned you can call a liquid 'gas' and play a game of 'football' without your feet ever touching the ball 'til the cows come home, you crazy cookies (I mean biscuits).

    But you are limiting yourselves. America is a nation fluent in sweet snacks, so why limit your vocabulary?

    In England, we can distinguish between 'cookies' (soft, chewy - think oatmeal cookies) and 'biscuits' (hard, brittle, sweet - not unlike Graham crackers).

    "Aha!", I hear my one reader cry. "We call hard cookies 'crackers'!" "But then how do you distinguish between sweet and savoury, wise guy?" "Oh bollocks". Quite.

    So, here's your new world order:

    - The words 'biscuit' and 'cookie' generally reference sweet snacks, the former being brittle and the latter chewy.
    - 'Scone' refers to a soft, doughy cake - sweet or savoury - akin to your 'biscuit'.
    - 'Cracker' is reserved for brittle, savoury items, such as you might served with cheese and fruit.

    If comments permitted, I'd lay out in a 3x2 table. On one axis: brittle - chewy - doughy; on the other: savoury - sweet.

    Now, I know what you're thinking (thanks for sticking with me, John): "How do you distinguish between savoury and sweet 'doughy' items?"

    Well, we don't. Even England isn't perfect; we call them both scones. This is regrettable, but 'biscuit' is already taken. I propose scones be reserved for the sweet, and 'pebbles' coined for the savoury. "I'm just having some cheese and pebbles". Lovely.

    What's that? What about chewy + savoury? Well who the hell would eat that?