Welcome to my first American special: Why Americans are awesome. I appreciate that I haven’t actually written a whole lot about America, so you might question my authority — and rightly so! I’ve visited a few times — about two months in total on five individual trips. I don’t claim to know everything about the States but as you probably know by now, that won’t stop this entry from being highly opinionated. Bear in mind then, as you read this, that ‘awesome’ doesn’t necessarily mean really neat, though it often does. Awesome means ‘awe inspiring’ — mouth-agape and stupefied — something you tell your kids about! Awww-sum, dude!!!
That’s why I chose that word in particular. America is awesome, no matter which facet you gaze upon. Either in military might or economic growth, America rules supreme. From the sheer vastness of their natural splendours — Yosemite, Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon — to the rich oil and gold and mineral reserves, America really is an adventurous place.
You have to imagine what it would’ve been like for an Irishman, pushing west across undiscovered America. How it must’ve felt to experience those sense-shattering sights. Mountains, glacial valleys, geysers — it would’ve been overwhelming! As I explored America, I liked to think I felt an inkling of the awe that those tiny colonies of trailblazing frontiersmen felt centuries ago as they pushed west across the New World.
It is perhaps no wonder that Americans retain an adventurous glint in their eye and bounce in their step — an enthusiasm and appetite for endeavour that precious few nations have. I guess, unlike many other countries, they still have something to be enthusiastic about. They’re still looking through rose-tinted spectacles left by their one-sixteenth Irish-blood great grandfather.
They’re big and brash
No matter which way you look at it: over wide, beautiful vistas or around the orbital curvature of an obese chest, Americans are by far the biggest race in the world. It’s no surprise, considering the seemingly never-ending expanse of their virgin habitat, that they’ve evolved into the largest of the Homo neanderthalensis. Animals tend to grow to occupy a given space — in high-density areas, animals tend to be smaller. America is huge and its population equally expansive.
The equation isn’t quite so simple though. The reason Americans are so large is because they are so self-sufficient. They have so many natural resources and such huge swathes of land suitable for agriculture that they have an abundance of cheap, locally-grown food. Couple in the fact that tropical conditions are available just short boat ride away, across the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s really no surprise that Americans are big (see Appendix A).
The brashness comes from being big and knowing you’re a force to be reckoned with, both on a global scale thanks to a huge military, and in the dusty, windswept saloons with your natural body armour. The confidence that Americans ooze is one of the (desirable?) traits that separates Americans from the rest of the world. Perhaps it’s because they’ve never really tasted defeat like most other Western nations, or just because they’re still so incredibly young in the grand scale of history.
The rest of the world knows about its weaknesses only too well. Americans are sure that they have some weakness, some flaw, somewhere… they just don’t stop to think about it. Maybe they’ll stop to think about it after yet another conquest — following yet another war that they can’t possibly lose. Because losing has never been an option.
That’s why Americans are confident.
They don’t have a class system… kind of
While the rest of the Western world is still battling with an archaic, feudal hand-me-down class system, and the undeveloped world still qualifies its leaders by the size of their ears or gonads, America is essentially classless. In England you can spot a millionaire from 100 meters. In America… good luck! A millionaire might wear a suit, or he might just wear jeans and a t-shirt, depending on how he feels. Or what’s fresh out of the washing machine.
This is because America is primarily made of new money. There are certainly a few British-occupation throwbacks — old, rich slavers — but most rich people in America today made their own money. They struggled against adversity to become stupendously rich. Capitalism might be frowned upon by many other developed nations but people forget that America has only had a couple of hundred years to catch up with the rest of the world! Without capitalism, America would probably still be a farming country (and some of it is!)
It’s only classless by definition though. Americans still strive to be better than their neighbours, it’s just more of a low-key, Cold War affair. Bigger cars. Greener lawns. Smaller dogs. Prom, rodeo and Mardi Gras queens. Beauty pageants. Bigger cows; riding rowdier bovines and horses. America is competitive. Without a defined class system, with nothing more than the equivalent of a league of comparitive penis lengths, Americans go out of their way to be bigger, better, faster and wholly more awesome than everyone else.
That continuing, never-let-it-lie attitude of trying to one-up its compatriots and the rest of the world has resulted in their global supremacy.
You can buy anything
Thanks to capitalism everything in America has a price. Really, anything; it’s shocking and at the same time strangely impressive. In most of the Western world, manners, deference, politeness and etiquette grease the cogs of society. In America it’s money. A big, toothy smile helps too — but mostly it’s cold, hard cash.
My trips to America have been liberating. I’ve known that at any time, as long as I have some money in my pocket, I’m safe; I’m enabled. I can (and did) literally anything I could think of. You’ll have to wait for my travel stories from America before you hear about those!
Back in England and Europe I’m fettered, restricted by social norms and expectations: who I’m friends with matters, and possibly who my enemies are too. I don’t think it’s any surprise that people searching for a new beginning travelled to the New World where there were no limits to what you could do or accomplish — no more arbitrary limitations imposed by your family’s history or religious affiliations — just an as-far-as-the-eye-can-see, unspoilt horizon and only one way to measure and compare success: money.
Appendix A: American Food
I’ll continue this tomorrow — there’s simply too much awesomeness in America for one blog entry — but for now, I want to leave you with some truly amazing culinary (I use that word loosely) creations, ripped off from thisiswhyyourefat.com.
The thing I love most about this one is the piece of lettuce. God bless America.
Two Danish pastries. And bacon. And is that the yolk of a sunny-side-up fried egg I see in the mix too?
You probably scrolled off this one quickly because it almost looks internal. Entitled ‘The Cornhole’, this… creation… this… monstrosity means I’ll never be able to look sweetcorn in the eye again. Or anyone else for that matter.
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: God bless America.
That’s a chocolate cake with crispy bacon sprinkles. You can’t see, but right now I have tears running down my cheeks.
Salty-wet trails of pride. The tears of someone that has glimpsed true beauty in the form of cake.
America, you truly are one of a kind. Thank God.