Wednesday 14 October 2015

On not living in America

There comes a time in a man’s life when he begins to regret that he does not live in America. For me that time is approximately five o’clock weekdays. When that feeling strikes the best cure is to get me to the America-themed bar just one train stop away from home. Faux-leather red booths, brass rails, big red hanging lights, plastic menus and ketchup bottles on every table, sports games on TV screens above the bar, walls plastered with sports regalia and American kitsch.

There, amid all that American glory, I find a seat, I solemnly contemplate a pint of American pale ale, I order something from the menu, barbecue beef ribs or burgers with onion rings or buffalo wings with celery sticks and blue cheese dipping sauce. Why is it so hard to get blue cheese sauce outside the fifty states? Long have I pondered the question but the answer still evades me. All I know is that at five o’clock I can walk through the doors and ask for buffalo wings and they will be brought to me on a platter with a dipping dish of blue cheese sauce.

If I am able to look up from studying my buffalo wings I see, on the big flat screen above me, the men in white throwing the ball and hitting it and running and catching and again throwing the ball. I have never been to a baseball game, it is not something I have ever liked or understood. But I feel a certain ineffable contentment to see them playing while I sit here with my honey-coloured pale ale gleaming in the glass and the blue cheese dipping sauce dripping from my fingers. I watch them hitting and running and catching and I raise a buffalo wing to my waiting lips and say to myself: America.

If I lived in America then I suppose, at a certain hour of the afternoon, I would seek out a glass of Australian lager although it is a drink I never really liked. In time I would be brought to such a pitch of nostalgia that I would even go out of my way to get my hands on that most ubiquitous and most repulsive of all Australian foods, the corner store meat pie. And as I raised my beer glass with pie-stained greasy fingers I would gaze up at the big flat screen to see the men in white standing around doing nothing, which is to say playing cricket, a game that I have never really liked or understood, and with a proud tear in my eye I would say to myself: Australia.

But I am already in Australia. So today the pale ale is bubbling in my soul as I lean back into my red faux-leather seat and slowly, with infinite deliberation, eat America, one blue cheese-dipped buffalo wing at a time.


Unknown said...

A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.
-- Humphrey Bogart

Graham Rees said...

The same sage (and it would have sounded better with a pint in his fist) said, "Here's lookin' at you, kid."

RG said...

As an American, I'd like to visit Australia. But then the Cubs are playing the Mets so I'd want to watch the baseball game, too.

Unknown said...

22 October

Hey RG, if you're a Cubby fan, I guess you should have gone to OZ.

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