Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dispatch: America

Down in these parts they call it ‘merica. Not the United States. Not the US or the USA. Not even America. Merica.

Merica is the part of America that didn’t vote for Obama. It’s the heart of the Tea Party. Here dwell confederate battle flag-flying, Second Amendment-loving, concealed weapon-toting, God-loving, abortion-hating, WalMart-shopping, monster truck-driving, ballcap-wearing, fast food-eating XXXL behemoths.

In search of size-M clothing suitable for a barbecue, a Canadian-Estonian visits WalMart and encounters Mericans so overweight that they perambulate through the aisles in electric carts supplied by the store. Under the handlebars often rests a hydration station with a three-liter Big Gulp, standard serving size for all beverages except coffee, which is still legal to consume in one-liter servings.

At the suburban barbecue the guest excuses himself from a pile of ribs to go to the bathroom. Quietly, he opens his Merican host’s medicine cabinet. The labels read like Martian poetry:

Lipitor. Hydrocodone. Vicodin.

It’s all the explanation one needs for the power of the pharmaceutical lobby.

Prinivil. Synthroid. Levorthroid.

Adderall (the kids must share this bathroom). Hydroccet. Hycodan. Norco. Amoxicillin.

Is the Viagra in the nightstand drawer?

Zocor. Zithromax. Glucophage.

Chances are a member of the house suffers from high blood pressure, low blood sugar, diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol, heart failure, or the inability to produce thyroid hormones. Or all of the above.

Xanax. Ambien. Alprazolam.

And depression. Pick-me-ups were prescribed 169 million times in Merica last year; twice more than anti-anxiety drugs. No wonder the host was smiling when he served the ribs. And so talkative.

Where you live? Sure, I’ve heard of it. It’s in Russia. You got football? Only soccer, huh? Well, that’s too bad.

For Mericans, as Professor Alfonse Stampanato has pointed out, there are only two places: Where they live and their TV set.

Like my big screen, do you? It’s HD. Thousands of channels. I got the porn blocked on this one though—heh, heh—since the kids can watch it. Bedroom set gets all the channels. You like Glenn Beck? You don’t get Fox News in Russia?

Programming fills airtime between the advertisements. Advertisements are poetry about pain relief, penile dysfunction, and dependency treatment facilities. And lines like “…Lipitor may cause suicidal tendencies…” are read slowly in grave tones.

He’s a warm host. And not ignorant about the part of the world which touches his business (he’s in sales). China and Brazil are the ones to watch. India, too. All coming on strong. Trade restrictions. Currency manipulations. Merica can’t compete if the towel-heads and slant-eyes won’t play fair.

Culture comes via Bluray, and lines from favorite movies are recited in turn by men surrounding the grill with Coronas in their hands.

I’ve got one word for you, son: Plastics.
Have a beer; don’t cost nothin’.
What we got here is a failure to communicate.
Badges? We ain't got no stinking badges!
Houston, we’ve got a problem.
Toga, Toga!

Howling laughter for Toga.

Liina sees that the party has split along gender lines, and so she takes her place among the womenfolk with their perfect dental work, frosted hair, and sweaters adorned with knitted strawberries or holiday themes.

The talk turns to how difficult it is to be white anymore. How a man can’t say the N-word without getting into trouble. Of course he shouldn’t, anyway. We’re better than that now. Nothing against blacks, of course. We’ve got one as president. Probably a Muslim, too. Light chuckling, as if it’s a joke everyone is in on. The host says he’s got a black neighbor. Nods all around to say I know whatcha mean.

The visitor offers that Tocqueville said slavery recedes but the prejudice to which it has given birth is immoveable.

Well, the host toes at the composite decking, we don’t watch a lot of European films.

The Baptists run this suburb says the host. Church of Christ runs the next one. They want to make the county dry which will mean a 50-mile drive to get Coronas. WWJD? someone asks. What Would Jesus Do? He’d shut up and drive the 50 miles, of course. I’ll drink to that, says the host. And they do.

Where’s that you’re from again? Oh, but you’re really from Canada? Why can’t you live in Merica?

Merica is under attack they inform. The uppity hippies two subdivisions away have banned leafblowers. Gas or electric, no matter. Banned. Just like that. First they took our healthcare. Now our leafblowers. Stay vigilant, fellas. Freedom is something you gotta fight for.

Everyone plans to vote. To do his part as a citizen. If you don’t vote you can’t bitch. It’s time to take back the country. They’ll take both the House and the Senate. And if they don’t they’ll filibuster.

What’s it like in a communist country? the host asks. For the first time, the guest has their full attention.

“God bless America,” says the guest. Amen to that! and the guest is clapped on the back by all.