Friday, July 4, 2014

Pork, Beer and Independence: 5 Joys, 5 Hardships

 
The US may be out of the World Cup in Brazil but it's still red, white and blue in the United States. It's Independence Day - when twenty somethings lounge on party pontoons at the lake as fireworks explode in the sky. Children run in circles in the middle of the street with sparkle sticks clenched in fat little fingers. Moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles tip a cup from lawn chairs on driveways before garages turned into neighborhood party rooms. Families hold hands and lower heads in prayerful thanksgiving over tables loaded with potato salad, hot dogs, chips, dip, 5 bean casserole and coolers full of red punch and Bud Light.
 
Everyone, everywhere, it seems, with shoulders and knees bared, eating pork, drinking wine, celebrating God and freedom in his or her own way.
 
Life in America is more than MTV, People of Walmart and the ability to buy pork and alcohol in any local grocery store wearing a tank top and Nike shorts. Here are five more things a Middle Eastern expat might find fulfilling about a stint stateside:
 
 
1. Benadryl, ice, (fresh) Cheezits and Twizzlers (sorry, Bob) available for purchase at any local grocery store or convenience mart.
 
2. The ability to wash and dry multiple loads of laundry in less time than it takes to walk barefoot across the Sahara backwards carrying loads of soggy misshapen shirts and pants that will never dry no matter how long the machine cycles or the wet air blows.
 
small person, warm rain, great joy
 
3. A dance in the rain - in the middle of the street, at the park, downtown, or pretty much anywhere you want.
 
4. To hug, kiss, hold hands with same or opposite sex friends and loved ones while standing on a stage at a busy mall at noon (or wherever).
 
nope nope nope
 
5. Surf the internet without once getting "this site is blocked by your country" or "this program isn't licensed for viewing in your location."
 
 
Life in America isn't all bare skin, pulled pork, internet excess and champagne. Here are five hardships stateside Middle Eastern expats endure:
 
1. The necessity to open your own doors.
 
2. Entrance fees at museums, exhibits, fairs, the zoo.
 
3. Scrubbing out the bathroom p-trap using a kitchen knife and (ugh) fingers.
 
4. Forget full service gas stations with prices less than $1.00; you gotta pay in advance (to prove you can afford it?) and pump your own gas.
 
5. You must get out of your car, enter the food court or other eatery, collect your own tray and - seriously! - bus your own table.
 
smiling at his daddy, snuggled up to me
 
Babies and grandbabies, the zoo, happy hour, Walmart, chugging water in public at the height of Ramadan. It seems that life in America is perfect. But the Middle East has something the US doesn't: this hard working guy with his can-do attitude, cute dimples and gorgeous shiny hair.
 
Bob, continuing the adventure: year three
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