Clueless in America. Chapter 35

This chapter was gratefully sponsored by contributors to coffee fuel. If you would like to sponsor a chapter of the ‘Clueless in America‘, please click on the button.

35. Please Notice Us, We Are From Wisconsin

Californians know that they are loud and obsessed with fast cars. Texans know that they are not really part of the USA and that the USA could not exist without their bigger and better existence. Canadians know for sure that it is not part of the USA, evidence of that is through having provinces like British Columbia and towns like London and Cambridge. And Wisconsin…. well, um Wisconsin, poor old Wisconsin. Wisconsin just does not seem to be happy in her own skin. Wisconsin is quite similar in a way to New Zealand, she spends her days like a sulky teenager, too bored to care about the rest of the world and then spends her evenings jumping up and down screaming for someone to notice her. If I was to make a tee-shirt for Wisconsin, it would read ‘Wisconsin – Validate Me’. South Carolinians have drawling accents, Texans have good manners, Amazonians have air-conditioning, but Wisconsinites, they have low self-esteem. I loved understated and unassuming Wisconsin, it was like God had carved out this state for me to feel comfortable in. I could feel securely insecure here without being noticed.

Another thing that was managing not to be noticed here was KFC. We couldn’t find one and ended up stopping at some insecure, sulky, grotty service-station excuse for a restaurant. The tired-looking wrung out waiter only just managed to squeak out a hello from his excessively drab and boring face. He served us with all of the panache of a seagull drowning in an oil-slick and the food itself resembled that seagull a few days after its passing. The absence of the obligatory American flag left me wondering if indeed we had found our way back into Canada.

Regrettably and I mean regrettably, we drove straight through Milwaukee without leaving the interstate. We Map-Quested our way north and then west and ended up way ahead of schedule in the town of Cedarburg. It was November and during this time of the year in the north of the USA it starts getting dark shortly after daylight begins. Consequently it was dark when we arrived. And, oh my goodness, did Cedarburg just look like the most cutest and quaintest wee town. We drove up and down the main street just gawking out the window. Because of our earliness we ended up being forced to wait in the evil empire of Starbucks. This Starbucks was actually very warm and welcoming, but once again the waitress had not been trained in the School of  American Service Industry. This pleasant enough lassie was wonderfully self-absorbed, lost in a conversation with a friend and was delightfully oblivious of my presence and desires for coffee. Surely I was in Canada, I mean the rain felt like the Canadian stuff. With such blasé service, I could have been back in Aotearoa. When we left I let out a cheerful American good bye. Little miss I-don’t-seem-to-notice-you behind the counter, simply let out a cheerful ‘bye’. There was no ‘have a nice day sir’ or ‘see you you next time’. I was beginning to feel as if I was in some kind of rehab clinic and was being detoxed from the USA. I was noticing Wisconsin.

Our friend met us at the Starchucks and we followed him through the cool air back to his home. I had always considered him a little weird for an American, but now I realise he is not weird, he is just from Wisconsin. I mean people from Wisconsin are just like Americans with the sound and colour turned down and they are just like Canadians but friendly and with the slightest touch more self-esteem. And it is amazing, your average Wisconsin person is about as diplomatic as a UN official after her morning coffee. Yet you go south of the border and your average person from Chicago is about as diplomatic as a pallet load of bricks flying through the front windscreen of your speeding Mercedes. America is extremist and I have yet to find the middle ground.

Our friend’s house was utterly gorgeous. One thing that Americans right across the country can do exceptionally well is cute. And cute in context; if I plonked the décor of this house into mainstream suburban Kiwi-land, people would be entering the home and vomiting with disgust. We hate cutesy. Americans love it and seemingly know little else. They know that the Polish sugar bowl would look perfect on the windowsill beside the five different-coloured egg cups, with the rainbow-house-thingy sitting at the end. Whereas in New Zealand, windowsills are for transistor radios, pot-plants and the glass that holds your false teeth. Americans do tartan well, in fact they get away with putting it everywhere. There is probably more tartan in your average American state than there is in all of Scotland. In Scotland it is the wearing of tartan that makes a man look like a man. In America it is that little strip of tartan hanging above the kitchen window that makes a cute kitchen, really cute.

America, it is tartan not plaid. Over the centuries many a Scot has lost their life in battle defending the right to wear their tartan, defending the land it is from and defending the family that it represents. How do you think it feels to have this honoured by hanging it in your cute kitchens and turning it into things like oven mitts and pencil cases?

I was so pleased when our hosts decided to take their dog for a walk. I was feeling all gluggy from spending a day eating nasty road-side food with a side salad of Southwest peanuts. Cedarburg looked like a leafless movie set for me. Lots of yellow, green or blue two-storied wooden houses, flanked by wide streets and large fence-less lawns draped in dead leaves. Everything about Cedarburg was lazy, subtle and, well just quietly  and quaintly American.

Tune in for the next issue and read about those Americans and their sport shoes that never see sport.

For past chapters click here. Or look on the side panel.

You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry!

Thank you so much to those of you who donated to the writing of this posting of ‘Clueless in America. This chapter was written in the very comfortable Chu Chus Cafe, West Kildbride Scotland.

Thank you so much for reading out for lunch. If you would like to contribute toward the running of out for lunch or donate money towards my writing projects, please click on the donate button. Thanks Kel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *