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Rob Jenkinson's Letters from America #10 Rob Jenkinson's Letters from America #10
by Rob Jenkinson
2006-11-19 10:31:27
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Howdy Ovi readers!

Those of you who read last week’s letter will remember that I was taking it upon myself to sway as many votes as humanly possible. Well, I take full credit for the result of the mid-term elections. Where's my thanks? Only joking. I can only take half of the credit.

So, if you did read last week’s letter, you may remember me mentioning that I was going to Nashville. Well, that’s where I’m writing to you from now, the not so Deep South, but pretty south. Nashville is a pretty cool city and isn’t only about country music as you’d think it would be. They have western as well! Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week. No, really, I’ll be here all week.

As I said, Nashville’s great, so imagine my disappointment when I was told that I’m going to be 30 miles away. Now, if you’ve spent much time in suburban America, you’ll know that it all looks the same, so it’s hard to feel out of place because they have all the same stuff. Here’s the checklist:

1. A mall with the following: Macy’s, Sears, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Aeropostale, Express and Brookes & Noble.

2. Retail parks with the following: Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, Wal*mart, Sam’s Club, Borders, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Home Depot.

3. In addition to McDonalds, Burger King & Wendy’s, there should be the following sit down restaurants: Chillis, Applebees, TGI Fridays, Chicago Uno, Boston Market, Red Lobster, Lone Star, Outback Steakhouse, Steak & Shake and Olive Garden.

That covers your basic suburban American shopping options. Food supermarket chains vary from region to region and you get various different fast food outlets in different areas. As a rough example, you only get Waffle Houses south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

I think Americans find this refreshing. They know exactly where to get what they need, no matter where they are. Personally, I find it depressing and do my best to help local businesses by eating or shopping there. The trouble is that when you’re in suburban Tennessee, you just don’t know what you’re going to get.

I had sometime to kill, so, being a musician, I decided to check some guitars out. By-passing the national chain of Guitar Center, I went into this tiny shack (that’s not an over exaggeration) and found two delightfully drunk hillbillies (one worked there and the other, well, I don’t know what he was doing) playing guitars out on the porch and laughing at blonde jokes that were being generated by a Joke Master toy. I quickly tried to get the hell out of there before I was forced to listen to the jokes and embarrassingly have to laugh politely at them.

Sadly, the drunken non-worker cottoned onto my plan and started making small talk about how his house is on the river and you can sit in a boat and go to New Orleans, but I was advised not to try it. Terrified, I asked where I could find an ATM, to give me an excuse to get out of there. It fell on deaf ears and he asked me if I wanted to go for a beer at the local neighbourhood bar, Sputniks. I politely declined and got the fuck out of there.

Now, I know they were harmless and indeed were very nice, but after a few weeks in New York, you learn to fear the friendly. So I have to snap out of it before I completely freak out at the world famous Southern hospitality.

It’s just plain creepy!


 
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