Walmart, McDonalds, Arby’s, Walmart, Wendy’s, Jiffy Lube, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Dollar General, Dollar Store, Walmart, Gamestop, Barnes and Noble, Michael’s, Wendy’s, McDonalds… broke-down trucks, signs that say “OUTLAW SODOMY!, and a billboard that says “Got Faith?”
America was a place for which you had a severe distaste when you left for Europe. God, the excess, the waste, the bloody IGNORANCE! The people who could tell you all about the Red Sox and the Patriots, but couldn’t give you the latest on the presidential campaign. The habits, the car culture, the vastness, and the cookie-cutter development plans city after city.
As it turned out, that development model–the American infrastructure of Walmart’s and McDonalds–was the very thing you had wanted so desperately in Europe. When you had a problem, you’d say, “If only there were a store like Rite-Aid…” What you would have given for a good thrift store, a 59 cent cheeseburger, a giant cheap bottle of conditioner or ketchup…
That model was the thing you’d wanted to escape. But you whined about its absence, soon enough. And now you’re back. And everywhere you go, it’s the same signs, in practically the same sequence. You know that if you see a Walmart, there is always a McDonalds nearby, but that’s a given, because McDonalds is always IN Walmart. That’s great, because there if free overnight parking in Walmart, and large bathrooms, and free WiFi in the neighboring McDonalds. And hell, the next morning, if you didn’t want the one-dollar coffee from McD’s, you could venture to the Nearby Dunkin’ for a massive crack-filled brew instead.
God Bless America, and how it has managed a most predictable type of simplicity, given that nothing below the surface is that simple. This nation is huge. HUGE. Really, try to drive across it. It goes on and on, sign after sign blinking past your vehicle, varying only in regional flavors or themes. For example, the McDonalds in which you are sitting here in Colorado has an interior design reminiscent of saloons from the olden days. Buffalo Jerky instead of Beef Jerky lines the shop shelves, and the architecture, as Alexis says, “Has gone from small town New England Charm to Colorado Casual.”
You just spent the last two and a half days driving almost continuously. You went from Niagra Falls in Ontario practically to Denver. And along the way, though the not-so-barren-but-in-fact-hyper-productive lands of Iowa and Nebraska, once you thought you couldn’t be any more brainwashed by your American McCulture, you found a little Jesus. “Got Faith?” Bible Camps. Tires hung on fence posts lining the motorway saying “Jesus Saves,” and four carloads full of nuns at a random rest stop half-way through. Oh, and you won’t forget the greatest sign of all, on same poor, bored, opinionated farmer’s land, “OUTLAW SODOMY!” Too bad you’re Big Gay Truck sports Hooters, Equal Opportunity, and Rainbow colored female stickers. You, in your boots, white cap, pink aviators, and Sorrel work vest, are like a giant rainbow-colored bulls-eye for hetero-normative-white-power-white-trash terrorist attacks.
There is a lot of flavor here. A lot to take in. And how much to savor? You’ll be sure to find out.