Oh yeah. This.
So in the “be careful what you wish for” department, I’m in America. It’s great. It’s almost totally great.
My pretend actual birthday was fantastic. I give it an A+. It was exactly the kind of day I would usually have on my birthday, going out alone and taking myself on dates to all my favorite places, and then meeting up with good friends later and going to some unknown bar where weird things are happening.
In this case, the weird thing was an unplanned upon performance by a semi-avant dub reggae band of six white dudes. Perfect. Whatever you might think about this type of thing, you at least have to admit that it’s not the kind of thing you’d ever see on a cruise ship. You just have to take my word for it. The ship is pretty much art free, which means that it’s also strangely pretense free, so even a little artless pretension, like, say, a semi-avant dub reggae band of six white dudes, is refreshing. It was great.
And I have a phone now. If you call me, then I will know that you called me, and I will be able to call you back. Within a maximum of like 4 days. It’s revolutionary. Instead of talking with a 4 second delay and a shoddy connection with the ship phone receiver pressed so hard against my ear it hurts, and instead of feeling like I’ve got to say something important because I just spent 20 bucks on a phone card with less than an hour on it, I can just call you and talk as much or as little as I feel like. It’s amazing. Now I know what Watson felt like.
Oh, I had a burger. A real burger. A good one. One that wasn’t sitting out under a heat lamp. One that was made from meat that was once meat.
I ate a slice of pizza. Real American thin crust New York style pizza. I folded it up and then I ate it and I thought, “this is my favorite pizza ever.” Because it was. It was really my real deal favorite pizza ever from my favorite pizza place in the world.
I went to a record store and bought music from a guy who spoke English.
I peed in four different Starbucks. Bathrooms. Starbucks bathrooms.
I went to a Thrift Store, where there are perfectly stylish clothes available for less than ten dollars of American money.
I drank a beer in a neighborhood bar at 2:00 in the afternoon and overheard a bunch of worker dudes who weren’t working complain about their union rep and how many commercials there are now on the Don Imus show. They did not pronounce their R’s.
I walked across the Harvard bridge, measured by Smoots, through the M.I.T. campus where my Dad went to school forty years ago, and back across the Longfellow bridge, across which I once stumbled home drunk in a cowboy outfit after a Halloween party.
I drank soda. Cold Dr. Pepper. And I got a free refill which I didn’t technically want, but still I got it because, hey, free refills.
I hung out with friends that I know. Friends that I have known for a while and who know me and we are comfortable hanging out with each other and we laugh like how friends laugh instead of how comedians laugh, like they’re humoring you so they can be funnier that you in a few seconds. It was nice to laugh like that and to be around people who were also laughing like that.
America is great.
But, we’ve now got American passengers on board the ship, and, well, they’re awfully American.
There is a pretty sizeable inner conflict I have that is I think due to conflicting messages that I’ve been instilled with since childhood. On one hand, I’ve always been taught that every person is equal, that there is good in everybody, and that nobody is inherently worth more than any other person. On the other hand, I was always expected to make good grades and excel in school because I was “special.” So on one hand we’ve got the message of “I’m great and special and capable of great things if I insist on excellence,” and on the other we have, “Get over yourself, everybody’s equal. You’re not special. Shut the hell up about ‘excellence’ and take what you can get.”
I’d imagine this is a pretty common inner conflict that people have.
Anyway, this is the type of thing I think about when I’m in a crowded buffet full of big, dumb Americans. When I was in Europe I routinely had the thought “Well, at least I know now that America doesn’t have the market cornered on being lazy and fat and dumb. There are lazy fat and dumb people from all over the whole wide world who go on cruise ships. I find this oddly comforting.”
And now in America I’m thinking, “Man, those Europeans were refined compared to these baboons.” And then I’m also thinking “shame on me” for thinking that.
But yeah, just know that America might not have the market cornered on lazy, fat, and dumb, but we have elevated it to a sort of effortless fine art. It’s like watching a professional athlete glide down the basketball court and jump fifteen feet in the air and reverse dunk a high outlet pass and then run back down the floor with a look of calm confidence that says “I’m unimpressed with what just happened.” Except for being lazy, fat, and dumb instead of playing basketball. It’s kind of astounding. American cruise passengers are the LeBron Jameses of lazy, fat, and dumb. Europeans are merely the Hedo Turkoglus of lazy, fat, and dumb.
And again, here’s where the self-aware part of my brain screams, “Get over yourself, you fucking high and mighty intellectual liberal cityboy. You think you’re so smart. What do you do for the world that’s so great, huh? You do a little comedy show for a bunch of lazy rich slobs who don’t care if you live or die. What a guy. What a fucking indispensable and not at all fraudulent way to make a living.”
It’s tough when a large part of your sense of self involves bullshit detection. You’re not exempt.
The point is, there are Americans all over the place on the ship now, and I’m hiding out in my room because I don’t think I can deal with it. I’m clearly too delicate. And I hate crowds in general. I’m allowed to. That’s ok.
God Bless America.
Also, I just found out that the ship won’t be able to broadcast the Patriots game tomorrow. Judging by the amount of Patriots coats and hats I’m seeing on the ship, I expect there to be a full scale riot. I’ll let you guys know if I survive.