I hope you guys are enjoying your holidays!!
It's been a tradition in our family that after all the presents are opened, that the "kids" roll around in the wrapping paper and giggle profusely. Well, all of the kids in our family are grown up and moved away, so it's just myself and my older cousin who are left. It was very painful because the giant pile of wrapping paper also includes huge boxes, bags, staples, etc.
|How perfect is this picture, considering I'm paranoid about showing |
my face until my teaching gig is done? Thank you tissue paper for
positioning yourself there. And thank you, uncle's questionable hand,
for looking like you're copping a feel.
The day after Christmas, Yentl, Yentl's boyfriend, Yentl's boyfriend's brother and I went on a mini-road trip to the closest American city, which is about 4 hours away -- 3 with Yentl's boyfriend's brother driving. We usually visit this city about 3 times a year because: a) They have a Victoria's Secret; b) The Canadian dollar has been almost at par with the American dollar since the recession, which means it's really cheap to shop there; and c) They have strange yet awesome American things like biscuits & gravy. They gave us a hard time going across the border, probably because we're four extremely good-looking and intimidating young people. They kept asking us trick questions like, "Are you visiting anyone?" and we'd reply with "no." Then a minute later, they'd ask, "Who are you visiting again?" Very sneaky.
I love traveling to the States for many reasons. Before I tell you why, you should know that I'm half-American. My Dad's side of the family is from Missouri. They (the only 3 that I've ever met, including my Dad) don't know how to ice-skate. They say things like "melk" instead of "milk." Fantastic. So, please know that I'm making fun of half of myself when I tell you why I love traveling to the States.
1) The Food
Last time we went, we spent $200 of groceries. This is because you can find everything flavoured everything that you can't get where we live. Like chocolate Cheerios. Whatever-you-want flavoured potato chips. Chex mix. Spray-on cheese in a bottle...yuck. My aunt always asks me to bring her back these ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING cracker sandwiches that you can't get at home. They consist of 2 fluorescent orange cheese crackers with fake peanut butter in the middle. I want to gag just looking at them. Also, the food items on the menu are quite interesting. You can get fried chicken sandwiches covered in white gravy for breakfast. Plus, the portions are HUGE. I know one can argue that it depends where you go, and that there are plenty of healthy restaurants across the USA, and that where we go is not representative of the whole country. But, the portion sizes really are HUGE. I always forget that most meals come with 3 or 4 sides, which are large, and that you usually get biscuits/breadsticks/whatever before meals. I love it!
2) The Drugstores, Politics, and Speech
You wouldn't think that there'd be many differences between the city where I live, and one that's only a couple hours away in a different country. But there are! There are Walgreen's (a drugstore that's open 24 hours I believe?) on every corner. Also, politics are a much bigger deal. When I visited this city 2 years ago, right before the Presidential election, there were signs on every front lawn. On street corners, I saw groups of Obama supporters with signs and megaphones, while cars were honking. Even now, 2 years later, when I flip on the news in the hotel room, it's always about politics. Additionally, I've been to lots of different States in my life, and the one thing that I always notice is that people very seldom say "you're welcome" if you say "thank you." Instead, people will often say "mmm hmmm" or "uh huh" or "yup." And don't get mad at me for saying that, because it's true.
3) The General Cultural Differences
Thanksgiving is apparently a huge deal in the States, according to my Dad. Almost as important as Christmas, if not more so. And it happens in November, with a giant parade in some big city, with Santa at the end. My Dad said that his family would always eat apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese on top for Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if that's an American thing, or just a gross family thing. The one important holiday for me, which seems to not be a big deal in the States, is Boxing Day (December 26th). Apparently it doesn't exist in the States. Instead they have "After Christmas Sales." Where I live, people line up as early as 4 AM on Boxing Day at certain stores to get ridiculous deals and free stuff. So, although there were some great "After Christmas Sales" where we went, there was nothing amazing. I kind of wish I would have stayed home for the shopping, actually. But I'm sure in awesome, bigger cities in the States, things are much different.
Speaking of shopping, one sales assistant asked me, "Do you even have a mall where you live?" (keep in mind the fact that my city is double the size of the city we were visiting). Oh, man.
And speaking of epic, ridiculous questions, I shall conclude this blog post with a short tale of our Boxing Day evening adventure.
On Boxing Day evening, the four of us went out for a fancy dinner. Yentl and I wore our new dresses that we had just bought that day. Our food was amazing, and we were back at our hotel at 9:30. The boys were content to watch TV and eat chips (after just having eaten steak dinners...geesh!) but Yentl and I wanted to go out. The boys informed us that there would be nowhere to go on a Sunday night after Christmas, but Yentl and I were determined. The boys made us go into a gas station and awkwardly ask 2 older-aged women behind the counter where the closest strip club was (strip clubs are open all the time, right?!?) One of them told us that we'd have to drive to a small town about 15 mins away, in a different state, which is nuts. That's because the "good" strip club in the city where we were staying was closed. Also, it's nuts that you can go to a different State in 15 mins! She warned us though: "Only go to ______, because let me tell ya, the other strip club is filled with skanks!"
So, we drove. This small town turned out to be definitely sketchy. The strip club we went to was ten times more sketchy. Because it was a Sunday, there were only 3 other "gentlemen" in the club besides the 4 of us. The DJ, who was wearing the most epic flood pants I have ever seen, had a giant bucket perched on his podium with the words "DJ Tips" creepily scrawled across it. Who tips a DJ? I've never heard of that. Especially when said DJ plays Backstreet Boys with long periods of silence between song changes.
Okay, so I'm guessing you want to hear about the strippers. Well, there were two of them. The first one seemed quite nasty, and the second one seemed quite young and "new," shall I say? I got the impression that she hadn't been stripping for that long. I felt bad for both of them, because the 4 of us were sitting off to the side, which meant that they were forced to entertain the 3 gross old men that were left. They didn't take their bottoms off (which they do were I live) which I appreciated, because it just makes me uncomfortable. Plus, there's often a lot of glow-in-the-dark things usually happening down there on the strippers, that makes it hard to look away, trying to figure out the logistics of getting pierced in places one wouldn't expect to get pierced.
Anyways, after Yentl and I had a few drinks, we decided that we should at least say hello to the strippers because we had been there for so long and hadn't acknowledged their presence. Yentl's boyfriend & boyfriend's brother pretended to seem uninterested in the strippers the entire night, but encouraged us to go up to the front of the stage. At this point, the young-looking "new" stripper was dancing. Here is the conversation that ensued...
The stripper starts dancing. I hold up $5 because I feel like I should give her something (she must have had a difficult time making $$ that night), and because I didn't want to pay enough for any "services." She's dancing on the pole in front of us and then approaches us. Her face is definitely less pretty closer up.
Me: First of all, I love your shoes. (Stripper laughs). Second of all, what do you do to keep in shape? Besides the pole I mean. Your body is fantastic.
Stripper: (Makes her belly pudgy and slaps it). This? Ha, I'm not in shape. I do nothing!
Yentl: You're quite good on the pole.
Stripper: Oh, I can't actually do anything. I've only been doing it for 3 months.
Suddenly, one of the other men in the club comes over and looks at me, throwing a 20-dollar bill down right in front of her.
Old Man: She won't do anything unless you give her 20 bucks.
Me: Oh, um, no thanks. I --
Suddenly, the stripper removes my glasses. Why is she doing that? I wonder. And before I know it, she shoves her boobs in my face, with the "motorboat" motion.
Me: Oh, umm, that was enjoyable. Ummm...not really necessary, though.
Then, she does it to Yentl.
Yentl: Wow, they're so soft!
Me: Best part of the road trip.
Yentl: We're from ______. (The Stripper looks at us cluelessly). Ontario. (The stripper looks at us cluelessly again.) Canada?
Stripper: Oh, you're from Canada!
The old man is still standing next to me, staring at us.
Me: (To old man) This is a girls only zone.
Old Man: But you're in a gentleman's club. (Everyone laughs.)
Stripper: What cities are there in Canada?
Yentl: Montreal? Toronto? Edmonton?
Stripper: Oh yeah, I've heard of Vancouver. Aren't you guys like really strict in Canada?
Me: Ummm, no? There's no Prop 8 (she looks at me cluelessly again). We can drink at a younger age...
Stripper: Right, you can drink at 18!
Yentl: Yeah, in some provinces. In most, it's 19.
Stripper: Yessssss! Wait -- I have to go dance again. I'll come back later!
We talked for a bit longer than what I wrote -- shopping, The Mall of America, shoes, etc. And when we came back to the table, the boys were so impressed. You should know that the boys are probably the two most polite, well-mannered men I've ever met. I've probably been to the strip club in town more than them, and they absolutely do not sit by the stage or even look at the strippers in an obvious way. But they were so impressed when we came back. "What did she say?" "Wow, k-money, you looked so relaxed, with your elbows resting on the stage and everything!" "What did she look like up close?" Yentl told them that "her boobs relaxed and weren't pointy anymore." Geesh. I looked at the stripper's face the entire time she was talking. Yentl, you're such a perv.
So, that was probably the highlight of my holiday: getting boobs smashed into my face. God bless America.