It Depends…

The Boffin and I had the pleasure of entertaining my lovely sister-in-law and her family for a week.  Now, this is not the first time R, my sister-in-law, and B, her husband, have been over here, but their two children, ages 7 and 4, were experiencing America for the first time.  Nevertheless, while we were donning our tour guide hats and stuffing their faces mercilessly, The Boffs and I were left fielding lots of questions about our ways.

We remember giving lots of wishy-washy mealy mouthed answers about how we do things.  A lot of our sentences began with “Well…”  Or “it depends…”  There were a lot of pauses, sighs, and gatherings of thoughts.  How do Americans live? How do the Chicago natives live? Are we talking South Side or suburbs? Ah, segregation. Here we go. Let’s put my American history degree to use.

Another thing I need to point out is that United States stays together because of a written legal document, the Constitution with an emphasis on states’ rights.  Some people think the Federal Government is too consuming over here.  However, when compared to the U.K., its power is really quite small.  While the U.K. may have regional differences, they do not have the same level of autonomous political power that individual states do over here.  So, it is difficult to create a set way of doing things when you could have 50 different approaches theoretically.

I think the only direct answer I could give was, “What is Hamburger Helper?”  Answer:  In the box, you have pasta and mystery powder in different flavors that is there to make a one-skillet meal.  You are supposed to cook beef mince and add milk to bring it together.  Now the Britons can sleep tonight knowing this information.

And I didn't even tell them about the creepy, detached hand that used to jump around in the adverts. Photo courtesy of Joe Haupt. https://www.flickr.com/photos/51764518@N02/16211351099
And I didn’t even tell them about the creepy, detached hand that used to jump around in the adverts.  Photo courtesy of Joe Haupt.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/51764518@N02/16211351099

These conversations only made me realize just how much of a patchwork of shades of gray our society is and just how valuable it is when people look in at the United States from outside.  Damn, we are complicated and maddening.

23 thoughts on “It Depends…

  1. “Another thing I need to point out is that United States stays together because of a written legal document”

    I am not sure I agree. Can I try my hand at it?

    Another thing I need to point out is that United States stays together because of Hamburger Helper

    It is what binds us together in, oh, so many ways.

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      1. Canned spaghetti on toast also gives me the dry boak. I wouldn’t eat Hamburger Helper under any conditions since I don’t eat red meat but it is so easy to whip up some mac and cheese from scratch that I don’t think I will even try the organic box kind. I get that there is probably some sort of stomach memory involved and tastebuds go blind when overwhelmed by nostalgia. I am sure there are British foods I am fond of that Americans would recoil from.

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      1. The sinks were deep enough to contain the sewage that came up the drains, thank goodness! There was just rain water to mop, so no stinky stuff on the foors! We still have to worry about mold, though.

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        1. There is a really good spray cleaner they sell at Ace Hardware called Wet and Forget. We have friends who had a flood they didn’t discover right away because it was in basement storage, and that was what their contractor recommended using.

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    1. I think a lot of Americans do, Mark. They are the immigrants who are trying to figure out who they are and how they fit in. And their children ask the same questions too. It may be the ones who are more established who take things for granted more.

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