Tuesday, November 24

Living in America

Any visitor to any country, will immediately identify three things that truly signifies they are no longer at home. In Nepal, it could be the cows roaming the streets, the garbage flying out the windows, and the constant bartering. In the USA, I found:

1) The huge cars - Attending a soccer game in New Jersey, each auto seemed one version or another of a strange metallic Mammoth species. These SUVs, Maxi-vans (whoever called them mini was clearly misguided), and immense pickup trucks made me feel like Stuart Little.
While giving thanks this holiday season that the roads are equally large, I also realized how fortunate we are in Europe to have roads far too small to accommodate these monoliths. Although they make their presence known, in Italy they are still easy to pick out of a crowd. In the gas-guzzling, super-sized America, there are entire fleets of these vehicles seemingly moving along roads like an oversized swarm of giant locusts.
Now I see why little cars like the Mini Cooper or SMART have such a hard sale here.

2) The grocery aisles or, people's kitchen cupboards - Stocked so full of stuff, it makes their immense pantries and shelves appear bare when there's one item missing from the usual seven different cereal boxes and 12 salad dressing bottles.
The funny thing is, in every house I've been to so far, the kids open the cupboard, blankly stare into a crowded space (but that's only because they're not watching TV, texting friends, and posting on facebook while listening to their iPod and doing homework at the same time), which most foreigners would take for a bomb shelter storage unit, before slamming the door and decrying, 'There's nothing to eat in this house!"
From a foreigner's perspective, it's so routine, that it appears to be an Ancient ritual not unlike saying a quick prayer to the house gods who once occupied little cupboards in 1st century Rome.

3) Toilet paper - For people used to the sandpaper as something to actually bring close to sensitive parts of your body, coming to America is like a dream come true. Not only do they offer nice smelling aloe versions of the stuff, they even decorate them for the holidays. You can find turkeys, pumpkins, and little santas just to make your bottom happy.
Englishmen will recall that up until 1995, they actually used wax paper - pretty much the least absorbent item on earth, as t.p. I imagine that for them, it brings new meaning to 'America is no. 1'...and no. 2 as well.

5 comments:

Carol said...

wax paper?!oh dio! i remember the purple-ish tp the ferrovia provided back in the 80s.

Guido Costantini said...

Not to be the classic snobbish italian... but... toilet paper with Santa? What did the old man do to deserve this fate???? He is always trying to be nice. Bet a very very bad kid designed that once he grew up as a vengeance for missed presents.

Romerican said...

Ohhh, the luxury of American toilet paper! Luckily, the TP situation has improved in Italy. I vividly (and painfully) recall the lavender colored crepe paper-like toilet paper that was common in southern Italy in the early 80s.

Dave514 said...

Francesca:
Remember, many a COLOURED And DESIGN carrying toilet paper is water soluble!!!!!!

Francesca Maggi said...

Ciao Guido - I'm totally with you on the santa front...I mean, it's not like your tush knows the difference...
but, it certainly could tell the difference with that fuchsia sandpaper we all once had to endure...

And, speaking of growing up and taking a vengeance, how 'bout the furbo who branded SofAss paper in Italy???!!!