Home Sweet Home

Trip Start Feb 07, 2009
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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Back at home in the US for a visit, I'm compelled to comment on some ways of the good ol’ American life that seem particularly odd to me coming in from abroad. Now folks say that Hong Kong is fantastically convenient, which it is in that unique, only in a big metropolis sort of way, but boy oh boy is America convenient too. In fact, I’d venture to say that convenience and obesity just might go hand in hand in this land. Each time I come home for a visit I’m overwhelmed by the sedentary nature of most Americans. The personal vehicle is an American institution, a birth rite and second home, and it’s simply amazing to what lengths we’ll go NOT to have to walk anywhere. At the mere mention of going for a walk after a meal, one will undoubtedly be confronted with a dozen excuses – "but the heat is so oppressive," “ah but it looks like it’s about to rain,” “but the mosquitoes are so bad right now”… It’s precisely all these “buts” that are leading to big butts.

Now, before yal go thinking this is a ranting complaint session, realize that I also come to recognize the beauty of the American ways. First and foremost, the kindness of people in this nation, particularly to strangers, is astounding. We are inherently a trusting and outwardly social people, and for this I am eternally appreciative. I actually think I become afriendlier person when I visit the US. Plus, as much as Hong Kong ishailed as a shopper’s paradise, nothing beats the US. Outlet malls and discountvenues such as DSW are a cornerstone of a budget shopper’s existence and theycater to all sizes there, which as a big-boned girl (I’ve always been fond of this expression) I greatly value. There’s nothing quite as torturing as shopping as a size 8-10 in Asia. Perhaps in the US I am regarded as average, occasionally slender on a good day, but in Asia I am Sasquatch and enormous. I see the Asian shop clerks apprehensively eyeing me when I walk into their establishments, with their inner business voices shouting “Big lady please don’t try to squeeze your abnormally large limbs into my single stitched garments.”

I’d also like to share some experiential nuggets from my trip back home to Lake Charles,
Louisiana. For those of you who have never visited the South, this is a charming area replete with good food and traditional American values, typically conservative. This is an area where
property is cheap and your home is truly your sanctuary that you are constantly improving, where vast green lawns and lots of dogs running in them are common. Not knowing your neighbors is sinful. Families are chief here, and politics rule local businesses. Everybody knows everybody else’s business and if you don’t like it, you’d better just move. This weekend my Dad and I were busting a move to the Cupid shuffle in a casino bar just outside town and within 12 hours my brother was calling to give him hell about it.

Just over a decade ago my hometown also became home to many riverboat casinos, and the casino has since become a way of life. It’s a place to relax, a place to meet up with old friends and find new ones, a place to eat with the family or share a romantic night out, a place to buy a designer dress and see some live music. On Saturday, for example, we visited not one but two
separate casinos – one for the buffet and the other for our choice of entertainment. On the dance floor you’ll find smiling adults doing the local dance, the Cajun two step, and plenty of line dances that the Saturday night female regulars are happy to instruct in.

As a final father-daughter bonding activity, I suggested we do something different than going to eat (horror of horrors) and ended up at the shooting range with a 22 shotgun for the day. Farewell to arms I guess you could say. Yes, Louisiana is very much the kind of place Michael Moore describes in one of his notorious documentaries. Now, full of yummy food and an ungodly amount of melted cheese, extra suitcase with my supersize discount clothes and shoes in hand, I return to the land of the small. Enjoy the family photos.

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