I’ve spent the last few days in Cleveland, Ohio visiting Shalene – and even though I’ve been in America for the odd week for quite a few years, it’s the first time I’ve been over here since 2005, and I’m not sure if I’ve changed, or if America has changed.
Certainly, the temperatures seem worse. But this is probably more how I’ve changed – it was about 24 Celsius in London before I left. Right now it’s apparently 30 degrees Celsius outside – a fact that prompts Shalene to gloat about how it’s going to get hotter and hotter before I leave. But then the buildings have got their air conditioning turned up to maximum – so here I am, in the veritable British tourist uniform of T-shirts, shorts and sandals, while everyone else is wearing jeans and shirts. How they don’t sweat when they walk outside, I don’t know – I took a short stroll to a nearby Starbucks (I needed the wi-fi!) and I was getting close to sweating by the time I stumbled in. Having nearly caused three traffic accidents – don’t they have pedestrian crossings over here ?!
Another change seems to be how the bargains in American shops just aren’t as compelling to me as they used to be – but then I did indulge in a mini-orgy of shopping at amazon.com before I left. Heaven knows how I’m going to fit Rock Band: Special Edition into my suitcase though.
The biggest difference seems to be how nobody understands me here. Especially when I ask for water. The conversation in restaurants seems to go thusly:
Me: “I’ll have some water, please.”
Me: “Warrrr-terrrrr” (trying to speak slowly)
Me: “Warrrrrrrrrrr terrrrrrrr” (going Ice-Age speed at this point)
Waiter: “I’m sorry, sir”
Me: “Wader!” (in a cod-American accent)
Waiter: “Ahhh, wadderrr!”