I’ve been home on leave.  We’re required to take time in the US in between assignments. I guess to remind us how great America is and to prevent us from thinking about moving away.

My friends chide me that we have to come back to get the battery in our microchip replaced.  Or to be reprogrammed.

Nonetheless, here we’ve been here. And this is what I’ve seen.

Coloring. This was hitting Indonesia a bit as we left, but is here at an amazing level. The number of mandalas and puppy dogs and sci-coloring books is remarkable. Along with the cords of coloring pencils. Even the local throw away mag has a coloring page. Perhaps, you’d like to print off and color the mandala at the top of this page? How long until this trend is complete? I’ll say by Christmas.

A drive through southern Ohio revealed an astonishing number of confederate flags flying proudly in yards throughout the area. It seems that maybe in the effort to stamp out the festering sore that this banner represents, some of the pus has splattered north of the Mason-Dixon Line and  probably onto the tracks of the underground railway that ran through those parts. In fairness, I did see some rainbow flags. One pizza joint had both flags pinned up, bracketing the door, in a true message of… something?

I went to Lululemon to get some pants hemmed. Their ABC pants are amazing. They truly are travelling pants.You can travel  in them for days. If you need to sit on a plane for 40 hours, these are what you want to sit in.

But, they’re sized funny.  If you normally wear a size 32, you’ll wear a 34 in their pants. While waiting, I decided to try on a pair that was labelled “New Sizing”.  I put on a size 34 and they fell off me.   The lovely clerk said, “Oh yeah, that’s the new sizing.  They’re sized accurately now. 32 inches is 32 inches.  We really listened to our customers!”  I wonder what happened that led them to listen to centuries of international measurement standards.

Perhaps most distressing was a scene I witnessed in the fitting area.  A middle aged man with a slight paunch was trying on t-shirts and examining them far too closely.  I mean, it’s  t-shirt for Pete’s sake A $68 t-shirt, but a t-shirt nonetheless.

“Hmmm”, he says.  “It’s a little long.  Can you hem them?”  Raising the shirt 2 inches, barely concealing his hirsute belly.

“Oh, yes! Of course!” says the shop lady, just as pleasant as can be, like they get this request all the time.

“Ok. I’ll take 4.  Just make sure they’re all hemmed to the same length” If you’re counting, that’s $280.00 on four t-shirts.

And there you have it.  In my absence, America seems to have become a coloring-obsessed, confederate flag-waving, t-shirt-hemming, middle-aged paunch bearing Britney Spears wannabes. Seems I’m not the only one who needs re-programmed.

Oh, America! You are a beacon unto the world! Surely your light can shine brighter than this.

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