Another in our series focusing on little moments of expat experience — moments that at the time seemed pifflingly insignificant.
As far as I can gather, the main advantage of Independence Day for many people seems to be the opportunity to dust off and wear that stars-and-stripes leather jacket that they bought back in 1979.
Wishing to get into the Independence Day spirit, it was clear that I also needing something “appropriate” to wear if I wanted to blend in successfully so I headed over to Target, a fine American corporation that would hopefully have even finer American clothing for me to purchase.
Finding the Target employee that looked the most patriotic — the telltale signs are a sensible haircut, good posture, and a strong jaw line — I asked where I might find the most patriotic T-shirts in store. Leading me to a selection of T-shirts featuring the stars and stripes, it was difficult for me to contain my disappointment with this somewhat anemic selection.
“Hmmm, do you have anything more patriotic?” I asked.
The patriotic youth seemed a little confused, a look that made him seem increasingly un-American.
“I was,” I said, “looking for something with a little more pizzazz. Something more OTT. I was kinda hoping you’d have one where Jesus is cradling the liberty bell while a bald eagle looks down approvingly?”
He just stared back at me. I’d been wrong about him. His jaw line was not as strong as I’d thought, his posture a little crooked, and his hair-style now I was closer was greasy and ostentatious.
“Why would we have that?” he sneered.
“Because you love this country — that’s why!”Though difficult, I tried to calm myself down and keep my temper in check. “Okay, have you got anything with a bald eagle in full flight in front of the stars and stripes, but, and this is the important bit, with a kick-ass explosion going on behind the flag? No? Nothing?”
“Have you tried Wal-Mart?”
I wandered off disappointed. This must have been how Benedict Arnold felt. You try and give this American lark a try, but you just end up getting kicked in the teeth. And that was when I saw the above little number, which I decided would from now on be my Independence Day T-shirt.
A version of this post first appeared on Culturally Discombobulated
STAY TUNED for Thursday’s post, in which Kate Allison debunks some common myths about the UK vs the USA.
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