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.
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.