We’ve reached the 8-month mark. Alex hasn’t left me for a Silicon Valley investor, and my kids are still speaking to me. At least I think they are. It’s hard to tell these days in that weird accent of theirs.
Anyway, here’s a rundown of some of the American stuff we’ve done.
Bought Girl Scout cookies.
We got accosted outside a grocery store by some kids and next thing we knew, we were dishing out the dollars. Turns out, the cookies aren’t actually baked by girl scouts; they’re professionally made and packaged. Which is probably a good thing. I mean, just the other day I caught Ava picking her nose while helping me make sandwiches. Multiply that level of hygiene by a girl scout troop, throw in some chocolate chips and god only knows what comes out of that oven.
Even on a school night. Because out here you don’t need weeks of planning to get your grill on. Plus, every time I have a pair of tongs in my hand, I get to act like I’m important and start barking orders at Alex: “More oil!”, “Silver foil!”, “Beer!”. I’ve not been successful with that last demand, but I’ll keep trying and eventually she’ll break.
Said hi to strangers.
Out here people are friendly to randoms they don’t know. They say hi to each other when they pass in the street, and make small talk with strangers in Starbucks. I’ve embraced the new way, but with the accent I always suspect I come across like a needy tourist. I ought to just ask for directions and make us both feel comfortable.
Got the car detailed.
I’ve been to a few different car washes out here, and they all look like a front for a meth operation. But no matter where I go, I say the word “detailing” like I actually know what it means, and they wave me straight through.
ID’ed at the bar.
When I was 18, I used to think it was cool if I wasn’t asked for ID. Out here everyone gets ID’ed, so if I’m not asked I take it as an insult and decrease the server’s tip.
Not just any oranges – oranges we handpicked from the tree in our garden. I still can’t believe it: a real tree that grows actual oranges. Until I moved here, I thought oranges grew inside an orange Sainsbury’s net.
Last week at work I spilled coffee down my t-shirt. I reacted in the way that most people do, by muttering as many four-letter words I could think of. It then dawned on me that I live in California, so I stood in the sunshine and dried out in less than 5 minutes. I smelled like a Starbucks apron for the rest of the day, but a win’s a win.
Laughed from afar.
From a distance I enjoyed Arsenal’s humiliation at the hands of Barcelona. Strictly speaking, this experience isn’t restricted to America. It’s an annual phenomenon, and you can go anywhere in the world to witness it.
But the further you travel, the funnier it gets.
Our landlord left a basketball hoop in our driveway, so every now and again I come over all White-Men-Can’t-Jump and slam dunk the shit out of it.
After I’ve lowered it to average Jewish male height, of course.
Picked up the paper from our driveway.
It’s always laying there in the sunshine, immaculately wrapped in a plastic bag, with a tight rubber band to keep it from unraveling. But I feel cheated by this – it’s not what the movies promised. I want to shake my fist and shout at the paper boy, as I fish it out from a puddle. If this drought in California continues, I’ll get the kids to create a puddle of their own and we can role play the rest.
Teared up at the national anthem.
It happened at a San Jose Earthquakes game. Something about being surrounded by grown men holding baseball caps to their hearts, while a sickly sweet kid belted out the Star Spangled Banner, brought tears to my eyes.
Or maybe it was the hot dog relish.
Went to Bass Pro.
We went to a store that sells guns, boats, and hot sauce. And it had a bowling alley too. Because…America.
Took the top down.
Even when it’s been cold out, I’ve driven around with the roof down blasting out classic rock. Because I like nothing more than to be a massive California cliché. Next up I’ll run my own startup and sell for $10billion; but if that’s too much like hard work, I’ll just bleach my hair, cruise around on a longboard and say “gnarly” a lot.
We went to an actual Super Bowl party. And even though there wasn’t a single American there, we did what everyone else does at a Super Bowl party: drank beer, ate meat, watched the national anthem, the adverts, the halftime show and precisely none of the game.
Been confused for an Australian.
I’ve gone 35 years of my life without anyone confusing where I’m from. But I move to America, and all of a sudden people think I have an Australian accent. I don’t get it. So, after I’ve politely clarified that I’m from London, I return the compliment and ask them which part of Canada they’re from. That usually shuts them up.
Next up on the to-do list:
– buy homemade lemonade from a roadside stall
– wear a fanny pack
– get crowned homecoming king
I’ll let you know how I get on.