I think back to this time two years ago. It was a regular occurrence for me to stay up until midnight to walk down in the blackness of night, lit dimly by the moon as it glistened on the frost crystallizing on the road that I was trudging down. There would inevitably be a cow that was in the process of, or thinking about, calving and needed someones attention. That attention often belonged to me. The trip to the yard sometimes involved getting shoulder deep inside a cow and then having to wash in cold water in the colder night before trudging back to bed and setting an alarm for a couple of hours later to repeat the process completely. Except for the fact that I would be dragged from my warm bed and my deep sleep next time.
Fast forward to this year, following more than a year in America and I feel almost ashamed of myself. A couple of days ago I purchased a remotely controlled device that would allow me to turn the outside Christmas lights on and off without having to leave the comfort of the house. The thought of putting on shoes, running out the back door and around to the front of the house, pulling out two plugs, and running back inside filled me with a crippling lethargy that drove me to go out and spend $15 on a clicker. My entire outdoor distance to cover adds up to 28 total yards and would take approximately 11 seconds. There would be no long walk to the yard, no gates to climb and certainly no full arm inside a cow – and I still couldn’t do it. I took the easy way because it was available to me
In my eyes, that is America. And I blame America for the change. This is the country where almost everything can be done from the comfort of your home or from inside your car. Most banking can be done online. In fact, I do most of mine on my phone. If you ever need cash, there’s a drive-thru ATM. For fear you would ever need to set foot in a bank, there are drive-thru tellers to avoid that possibility. If you need an emergency bucket of chicken or a large iced-coffee you don’t need to get out of the car. In case you are too fucking lazy to park outside of Walgreen’s, walk in and get some drugs, there is a drive-thru pharmacy for your shopping convenience. If it is too much effort to walk around a big store like Home Depot to find what you’re looking for, you can buy it online and pick it up at the service desk just inside the door. It means leaving the car but less walking.
Thankfully I have never used any of these services except, on occasion, for fast food, and even then I increasingly find myself parking and going inside. There is a simple reason for this. It is faster. There is usually a long queue for the drive-thru and nobody inside. I had assumed that the reason for drive-thrus was because they were faster and easier but apparently it’s a laziness thing.
It is true to say that America hasn’t changed me fully but it is trying to consume me in the same way many of it’s citizens consume a cheeseburger – quickly and in as few bites as possible. I am fighting back but I am losing some battles. I now high five people when our team score a touchdown. I now have a team that scores touchdowns. I use the word “awesome” liberally rather than ironically. I eat appetizers. I often drink light beer. It is no longer the off-licence but the beer store. I sometimes leave the “u” out of words and swap the “s” with a “z”. I celebrate Thanksgiving and July 4th and not Arthur’s Day. I complain at the fact that my favourite meal at my favourite restaurant has downsized it’s portion from “huge” to “still way above anything you’d get in Ireland especially at that price”. I have a favourite restaurant. I know someone named Randy. I now know temperature in Fahrenheit. The month now comes first when writing the date. I know someone named Miguel. I put up outdoor Christmas lights.
Obviously, ’tis far from many of these things that I was rared. Proclaiming things are awesome and high-fiving are unfortunately choices I have made that allow me to fit in better. For the rest of the list I am just a victim of circumstance and OK with it. It is a simple fact that Ireland and America both have their upsides and downsides. I’d much prefer to sit on a high-stool in The Hawthorn drinking a pint than sitting at a table at Chili’s, drinking 8 oz and leaving a tip. I’d demolish a snack box any day over a 10 piece McNugget meal. And I would definitely prefer a solid 3-day wedding complete with stag and hen parties over a six hour one with a bridal shower.
On the flip side, I prefer watching Tom Brady throw a TD to Welker in double coverage than seeing Galway face Wicklow in the qualifiers. I’ll take lounging in a pool on a lilo with a beer in my hand with 90 degree F sun beating down on me over having to strip naked any time the sun peeks from behind the clouds to increase the chance of tanning some skin. I like being able to buy a t shirt for $7 and getting 30% off my next purchase rather than forking over twenty five euro for one.
And I most definitely prefer having my right arm submerged in an over-sized bag of potato chips than the womb of an obstreperous heifer. Even if that means having to refer to them as potato chips.