A spoon full of sugar and some guns

United States 2005

Last night I ate my first dinner out in the States. Brian and I met up with two of his friends, Jay and Rich, and we travelled out of the city to somewhere you would drive through without thinking in the UK, but in the US is a destination in itself. It’s hard to explain, but if you’ve been to the US you’d understand. Jay and Rich are two nice fellows, Jay an ex-president of St Louis University students’ union with a dry sense of humour; Rich a bubbly, happy bloke who has one of the best jobs around, reviewing computer games for a magazine.

We went to an Irish-themed restaurant that could have been trite but was in fact really nice. We got to sit in a booth which was great because eating in a booth is always more fun than eating at a table. When I own a dining room I want it to have a booth.

We had a nice meal, although mine was a little salty (this may have been because I poured a lot of salt on it). To compensate for the saltiness I drank a lot of Pepsi. This is dangerous in the States because a) the drinks here have a lot more sugar and b) once you’ve finished a drink you get a free refill. I drank a lot of Pepsi. I’ve not drunk any tea or coffee since I got here (I’m dreaming a lot about tea) and my body wasn’t ready for the caffeine or sugar; thus I entered the child-like world of a sugar-rush. I was a little excitable so they took me shopping. I saw computers (around which I had a sugar-rush inspired bit of banter with a shop assistant about Apple Macs), iPod accessories, digital cameras, DVDs, books, and the biggest televisions you could ever imagine. Jay talked himself into buying a $4,500 TV, but is waiting until the weekend when he can get ten per cent off.

Update: Jay had a minor car-crash a few days later (he was unharmed), and can no longer afford the television. Doh!

As with all good journeys the best was saved until last. In my excitement I asked if they could take me somewhere that sold guns. And so we went to the cultural centre of America: Wal-Mart. It was everything I thought it would be: the shop was so big you couldn’t see the other side; it had white-trash chowing down on White Castle burgers; it had a person so fat they had to go around in a little buggy; but most importantly it had guns for sale.

There were huge shotguns and rifles sitting just centimetres from my face. Next to them were tall high-calibre bullets sitting proudly on top of boxes and boxes of ammo, looking like skyscrapers sprouting up from a city. Having these weapons so freely available was anathema to my English sensibilities and I didn’t know what to do. So I took some photos. My Yankee tour guides seemed to find it quite funny.

Jay bought a large house plant for his living room from Wal-Mart. I seem to have picked up more horticultural knowledge from Sarah than I thought so I gave him a few pointers on how to keep it. he looked at me like I was mad. It was probably the sugar.

And in a tenuously linked sort of way, happy birthday to Sarah, who was twenty-five yesterday.