50 American Facts or Fictions?

Good day folks. Having lived in the Unites States of America for ninety days without getting shot, I would like to take this opportunity to dispel, or confirm, fifty myths or misconceptions that I may, or may not, have believed were true before I started this journey. Admittedly, sweeping generalisations are made throughout but most of what I write is based on experiences I had in the states. Hope this illuminates.

Burgers, Cola & ObamaCare:

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  1. All Americans are obese. Untrue. Contrary to popular belief, not all of them are overweight. Many states even have healthily-sized people. Colorado, for example, and… let’s just stick with Colorado for now.
  2. But they have the fattest people I have ever seen. True. By some considerable margin. Principally in Texas. Usually wearing tie dye and jeans and always sat in motorised carts.
  3. They drive everywhere. True. Possibly the reason for the above. Unless you are in a large city with a pedestrianised centre, driving is the only option. No pavement or ‘sidewalk’ to waddle on.
  4. Eating fast food is frowned upon. Untrue. No, not at all. Taking the family out to dinner or an anniversary meal at McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s is not in any way shameful.
  5. But you will be mugged if you visit the McDonald’s branch in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. True. I have no idea why you would be visiting the McDonald’s branch in downtown Wilmington; Delaware is a netherworld of torment and misery.

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  1. Portions are all super-sized. Untrue. Apart from the ludicrously sized Coca-Cola cups which I could fit my whole arm in, everything else is boringly normal-sized.
  2. Americans are addicted to sugar. True. Even more than we are in the UK. More aisles in the supermarket are dedicated to junk food than to fruit and veg and indeed anything healthy, combined.
  3. Beer is absurdly cheap. True. Cheaper than bottled water in some cases. Canada’s major downfall.
  4. You must add T&T – tips and tax – to everything you buy in a bar or restaurant. True. Or a bombshell awaits. Unless you are in the beer tax haven of Wyoming.
  5. They don’t drink Guinness. Untrue. Nearly every bar we went to in America served Guinness, whether it be called McDougall’s Laughing Leprechaun or Aunty Poulet’s Deep South Bar & Diner.

Trucks, Trailers & RV’s:

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  1. Petrol is incredibly cheap. True. Apart from sheer laziness, probably the reason why they drive everywhere. Sometimes even cheaper than beer.
  2. Unless you require to fill-up inside of a National Park. True. No competition means prices are more than double some other parts of the country. If you want cheap gas, head to Missouri. Probably the only valid argument for going to Missouri.
  3. They don’t have roundabouts. Untrue. They do. But not a bloody clue how to drive around them. We were cut up more than julienne salad.
  4. Traffic cops pull over every Canadian vehicle they see. Untrue. We were not pulled over once. The only time we were, even though they were apologetic about it, was in Canada.
  5. If you happen to walk off the pavement, or jaywalk, you will be thrown to the floor and assaulted by the police. Untrue. Unless you are black and living in the South, then it becomes a high possibility.

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  1. Every American family owns a pickup truck. True. Even if living in Miami or New York or Los Angeles, a pickup truck – either a Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado or a Dodge Ram – is absolutely essential.
  2. Every retired American couple owns a fifty foot ‘recreational vehicle’. Also true. The bigger and more beige the better.
  3. They love a drive thru. True. Not just fast food restaurants either. Drive thru pharmacies, banks and even churches all make life easier for the average American.
  4. American highways are littered with more roadkill than could be viewed in a zoo. True. Many zoos’ in fact. From small squirrel to massive moose, over one million animals get killed on their roads every day.
  5. But they use animal road bridges. True. For all the good they appear to do. Again, one million every day!

Culture & United States of Americanisms:

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  1. You can hunt or fish anywhere you can’t see a sign saying otherwise. True. Perfectly reasonable. Includes all city parks and water fountains.
  2. Wearing full camouflage gear is suitable when doing neither. True. Not war veterans, just your average family having a day out in Walgreens, dressed head-to-toe in camo.
  3. They like to hang deer outside of their houses. True. Allowing the blood to drop and congeal in a neat pool outside the front porch. Mainly up North.
  4. Every state is alike, yet completely different. True. Speed limits, both maximum and in some cases minimum, can change drastically when crossing over a state line. Traffic police sit just across borders to catch out unknowing motorists.
  5. As well as climates. True. Just a few hours’ drive from a sweltering desert and you could be in a ski resort. From Santa Fe to Aspen, for example.

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  1. And accents. True…ish. There are apparently twenty-three separate accents in America, not that many considering the grand size of the country. I only counted three myself. City, country and southern country.
  2. Americans love a British accent. True. But most don’t understand it, leading to some highly repetitive conversations, especially in New Orleans. In addition, the Queen is always mentioned.
  3. They have beef with Canada. Untrue. Despite poking fun at their accent – eh? – they generally understand the close cultural links they share, whilst tourism between the two is at an all-time high. Fascinating.
  4. If you say you are from Korea, the next question is always North or South. True. This is immediately followed by a communal sense of relief when the South is confirmed.
  5. Asking the nationality of any laundromat owner is highly unnecessary. True. They are all from Korea, the South that is – can you feel the communal sense of relief? Shu found this fact very useful when trying to acquire free detergent.

Homeland Security & The White House:

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  1. With their being enough guns for every man, woman and child in the country, everybody has one holstered to their belts. Untrue. Mercifully, apart from on law enforcement, we did not see a single one. Most bizarre.
  2. Guns can be bought anywhere. True. Even in Walmart, high-powered air rifles can be purchased as easily as tinned pineapples.
  3. Cops are all lazy, rude and offensive. Untrue. In fact, all the law enforcement officers we encountered were fairly helpful. None were eating doughnuts.
  4. With the exception of border control and supermarket security. True. Mad with power. Happy to integrate as if in Guantanamo Bay.
  5. The amount of people that are homeless is ridiculous. True. Please give them some bloody housing. Combined with gun crime, I believe it be America’s biggest problem, along with the extortionate price of beef jerky.

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  1. Although Republicans would have you believe their biggest problem is terrorism. True. Yes, it is an issue but nowhere near the scale of the other issues that America faces, and does nothing about.
  2. All Republican views are insane. True. Epitomised by the racist, xenophobic, psychopath that is Donald Trump. Cruz, Carson & Rubio aren’t any more reasonable either.
  3. Americans are the most patriotic people on the earth. True. The star spangled banner museum was complete proof, if any were needed, of that.
  4. But some states are much less so. True. Many Hawaiians and Alaskans, and even Floridians, want to annex themselves from the union primarily because they feel the government in D.C. does not represent them. Where have we heard that before?
  5. Americans still believe they are the ‘greatest’ country in the world. True. Because they have freedom, opportunity, democracy and more freedom. Which no other country has.

Recreation & the Great Outdoors:

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  1. Everybody watches sports. True. Man, woman, great-grandparent, baby, it does not matter. You must follow and support at least one football, basketball, baseball or hockey team. No excuses.
  2. Americans don’t get soccer. No longer true. They watch it more than basketball and ice hockey and I actually think that they may understand some of the rules.
  3. If you go to bar, you will have to talk about sport at some point. True. The great conversational lubricant, that and the weather.
  4. Country music is more popular than Barack Obama. True. Lyrics must include girls, guns, trucks, jeans and whiskey. When driving anywhere in America between Nevada and Virginia, this is all that can be picked up on the wireless.
  5. Unless it is a Christian talk show. True. What amazes me is that all these stations have enough to talk about twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Even if they read the bible cover to cover, they would surely run out of material in a day or so?

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  1. Or an extremely long, rapidly spoken advertisement. True. Always incomprehensible. Either selling life insurance, a pickup truck or a leaf blower.
  2. Americans don’t like the outdoors. Untrue. Oh how we wished this were true when we decided to visit Yosemite National Park on Labor day weekend. Worse than driving through Manhattan during rush hour, nearly.
  3. Every state must have a National something – park, forest, monument etc. Almost true. With the exception of Delaware, actually true, every state has at least one. If the state does not contain any natural beauty or outstanding geological formations or ancient monuments, something trivial will be selected and ‘protected’ as if it were the Garden of Eden.
  4. Any land not inside the National park boundary can be used for anything you want. True. Go ahead. Even if it is of the same natural beauty as that on the other side of the border, feel free to build your fast-food restaurant, used car lot, brothel or nuclear power plant here.
  5. The American road trip has had its day. Yes the Interstate has spoiled it somewhat and the TV exposure, popularity and exploitation of road’s such as Route 66 have damaged its mystique a little BUT, nowhere near enough to say that the American road trip is dead. Hidden gems remain, awaiting the curious travellers who don’t always read the guide books or follow TripAdvisor – as we did too much of the time.

Well I hope your satisfied with your new found knowledge of America. All facts are useful, if not entirely truthful. But there you have the lot.

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J

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