I listen to a lot of British talk radio, because I’m odd, and callers to the programs often accuse Americans of being arrogant and self-absorbed. They point to some always-changing statistic that indicates the low percentage of us who own passports. It’s proof that we have no interest in the rest of the world, you see, and go around wearing our own arses as hats.
But I’ve never thought that was an entirely fair criticism…
I certainly can’t speak for all Americans (nobody would benefit from such an exercise), but lack of curiosity and/or interest has nothing to do with it. Not for me, anyway. It’s more to do with money, and the massiveness of America.
This place is pretty freaking huge, ya know? A person could spend two or three lifetimes exploring it, without seeing everything worth seeing. I crunched the numbers last night, and believe I’ve only visited 24 states so far. And I cheated with Arizona, having only been inside the Phoenix airport a half-dozen times…
Twenty-four states, or 48% of ’em. And I don’t consider myself to be a hermit. I haven’t yet seen the Grand Canyon, made it to Alaska or Hawaii, Yosemite or Yellowstone, or even Seattle. Is it due to lack of interest, or ass-hattery? No, it is not. I want to go to all those places, very much. As well as dozens of countries around the globe.
I could be wrong, but I believe it would be somewhat easier to call myself an international-traveler if I lived in a place where the countries are small, and packed together like that New England jumble up in the right-hand corner. Know what I mean?
If I could walk out to my car right now, drive for three hours, and be in a foreign land… Well, I guess that would make me more worldly and sophisticated, right? And I could look down my nose at people who live in U.S. states as big as a whole shitload of Luxembourgs, in a country surrounded by two enormous oceans.
Then maybe I could take a bike ride to yet another country, with a big loaf of bread tucked under my free-range armpits, while wearing a tight striped shirt?
Do I sound defensive?
I overslept yesterday, and everything above is what I wrote toward an update. I considered posting it and asking how many states you’ve visited, but decided against it. Too lame, I thought.
But now my stomach is betraying me, and it’s becoming clear that I’ll have to go with yesterday’s plan anyway…
I don’t want to be too graphic here, but I’ve been experiencing a series of high-pressure lightning-strike sit-downs. And while it might sound like fun in the abstract (wheeeee!), reality has a way of ruining things. As Iggy once said, probably about something other than what I’m talking about: no fun.
And so, here’s a list of the 50 states. How many of have you visited so far? Is my 24 low, high, or just about normal? Help me out, won’t you? And if you want to expand it to countries visited, go for it.
And for the record, I do know a few arrogant, self-absorbed Americans. Clive’s callers aren’t completely off-the-mark, but I don’t think it’s as common as some of them choose to believe. Pass the Marmite, goddammit.
Here’s something I posted at Mockable this morning, in case this one ain’t enough for you. I think it’s funny, but I’m incredibly biased.
I leave for work in a few minutes, and I’m very concerned about my 25 year (or so) streak. Oh god…. The planets are aligning for an unthinkable tragedy. I’ll let you know how it goes. Your prayers are certainly welcome.
See ya tomorrow.