Thanks to my selective video capture, the presentation I give to my students once I’m back in Japan will likely elucidate the following things about The Home of the Brave: we eat huge, extravagant meals, shoot guns, shop in stores where there are fifty kinds of cheese and an entire aisle of potato chips, and our houses are enormous. Is this America? Well.
The story of the trip has been shopping, and going to places to shop, and being in stores and not shopping, and buying stuff anyway. America is truly the Land of the Deal, and the perpetual promise of weekly sales, deep discounts, and huge stores with shelves full of items keeps the hunt entertaining if totally unnecessary. I have acquired enough Blu-rays and PS3 games to last me longer than I’ll ever have to watch and play them. I have three new card and board games, a bag of stuff for Jessy, plenty of exotic snacks, and fifty pounds of flight allowance on a second checked parcel, should I choose to exercise the option. Currently I am leaning toward wrapping a box with string and tape and filling it with mac & cheese and Triscuits then lugging it awkwardly all the way back to Japan.
With a Spanish .380 pistol in my hand the other day I found myself squeezing off a few rounds at the Buena Vista Gun Club, an impossible novelty after a while in the Central Land of Reed Plains, where guns are like lasers, or ninja stars to Americans–Hollywood inventions, manufacted nethecite. Surely I am better a person for knowing how to load and discharge a variety of firearms safely for entertainment or self-defense. I often run into arguments with people from other countries or those who support the total abolishment of guns. I don’t ever have much to say to them because handling both sides of the guns/no guns debate is like juggling handfuls of sand in a wind tunnel. But shooting guns ain’t as easy as you see in Hawaii Five-0. You don’t hear anyone arguing for the abolishment of bows, and I saw this TV show the other day where a hunter shot a balloon from like two football fields away holy shit. Anyway we are all still alive, and the guns didn’t jump out of our hands and murder anyone for drugs or because of a baby mama, because we are not idiots.
Last night was New Year’s Eve, which we spent watching the hometown Sioux City hockey team playing like total amateurs (which they basically are), compared to the Pittsburgh hockey I am used to seeing on television. I drank two huge cups of cheap draft beer from a plastic cup and swore more loudly at the ineptitude of the passing game as time bore inexorably on. We lost, poor bastards, and to celebrate I came home and ate buffalo chicken wings and mozzarella sticks.
To make a list of all the stuff I’ve eaten here that I can’t eat without a struggle or can’t eat at all in Japan would be an exercise. Can I remember it chronologically? Doubtful. Giant Culver’s mushroom and swiss burger with cheese balls and a root beer, beef burrito from Estas, Red Hot beef burrito from a gas station, chicken Pad Thai from Thai Kitchen, pork chops, steak, big bowls of soup, a country-fried steak and gravy biscuit from Hardee’s, Chic-fil-a spicy chicken sandwich, spicy Pad Thai in Storm Lake, some Taco John’s burritos, a few frozen pizzas, delivery pizza, chicken and noodles, curry rice, deli chicken, mac and cheese TV dinner, and a bunch of other totally unhealthy garbage.
Today, as retribution, we are having cornish hens. This makes up for it because they are entire hens, and each person gets their own.
They are cornish, which must count for something.