For too long, Australia, I’ve been squinting at my writing schedule, tapping away at my keyboard, and then sending my essays strapped to digital pigeons wafting over the oceans to your shores, merrily ignoring the vast cultural gulf that divides me and thee, Australia.
This stops now. I am here and you are there, and even though we are all Catholic, there’s no sense in pretending that we are the same. Globalism, schmobalism. It’s time to set the record straight. Here are some things you really ought to know about what things are really like in the United States.
1. Everyone loves to tease Australia about being Monster Island, where all the animals and insects want to kill you, blah blah blah.
True enough, but at least your existential threats are corporeal. Did you know that the United States has more ghosts per capita than any other contiguous land mass in the world, causing an estimated loss of $46 million in lost wages annually? That’s right, kleptogeists are rampant, and yet congress refuses to act.
2. Because we are upside down compared to you, our drains work the wrong way. Toilets, especially, require extra encouragement to flush.
Walk into any American home and you’re likely to hear the telltale sounds of firecrackers (sometimes known as Supplementary Percussive Lateral Underwater Technologies, or SPLUT) employed to counteract the effect of all that upside-down Northern Hemisphere torque. It’s considered bad manners to remark on it, though. Just keep walking.
3. Speaking of bad manners, many Australian visitors to our fair shores are prepared to tip waiters, hairdressers, legislators, and others in the service industry, but they somehow never learned that we consider it insulting to simply turn over cash.
Etiquette requires you to offer a little kiss as well. It doesn’t have to be passionate, as long as it’s sincere.
4. In the United States, the father of your father is called ‘grandfather’, and his father is called ‘great grandfather’, and his father is called ‘great-great grandfather’, but his father is always called ‘Aloysius’.
5. Most major intersections have land mines embedded in them. In retrospect, most city planning boards regret this choice, but we don’t know what to do about it, other than wait.
6. It was only in 1983 that the number four was declared legal for public purposes below the Mason Dixon line.
People used it, of course, but it was technically considered a class B felony, and a zealous and vindictive prosecutor could ruin a man’s career over it. When the law was finally changed, Arlo Guthrie was heard to sigh loudly, loosen his shoelaces, and express relief that he could finally relax and four.
7. Most of our horses and some of our goats can talk. They just don’t want to.
I hope this helps you get a clearer picture of what things are truly like, way over here in the back of beyond. Keep in touch, weirdos!