Saturday, October 25, 2014

America the Bountiful

LOCATION: 38,000 feet; east bound, somewhere over the North Atlantic

Yup, another US holiday under my belt—literally.

This visit was something of a revelation: apparently, what has been missing from my life is people telling me I’m fat. If just one more person references my girth it will have been the perfect vacation…oh, wait…the winged waitress just told me to fasten my seatbelt so my fat stomach doesn’t jiggle all over the people sitting next to me. Okay, she didn’t actually say it, but I could tell that’s what she was thinking.

None of this, by the way, was my fault.

We’re not new to America; we know what we’re up against, which is why, throughout the fortnight before every visit, we eat light breakfasts, have a carrot stick for lunch and dine on thin soup for dinner. The idea is to acquire as much of a buffer as possible before heading off to the land of plenty. My wife did all right, and I was doing well, too, until that unfortunate incident with the sausage roll vendor.

With five days to go, feeling fit (and slender) I took a stroll through the town market, as I am wont to do, and came upon a new stall selling sausage rolls. They were large—not the bit-sized variety you find in Waitrose—and boasted fresh, locally sourced ingredients. They did look good, and I proposed to buy one someday. Not that day, of course.

Then I noticed that they sold a variety made with blood pudding and, curious, asked about it. The lady told me they didn’t have any left (which was fine; I only wanted some information) so I thanked her and left.

From there, I wandered into the mall, did some window shopping, and then went into W. H. Smiths to see if I could find a good book for the flight. As I was perusing the best seller titles, someone standing behind me kept saying, “Sir! Sir!” I never think that anyone would call me that, but as there was no one else in the aisle, I turned around.

It was the Sausage Roll Lady, holding a sausage roll.

“I found one,” she said, her cheeks rosy with exertion and glee.

I was incredulous, dumbfounded and more than a little bit chagrined that she had chased me all that way just to sell me a sausage roll I hadn’t actually intended to buy. I was also left with no choice but to accompany her back to her stall and buy it. When we got there, I was still feeling that she had gone through a lot of effort for a small sale, so I bought five (on special for a tenner) and, yeah, that bit was kinda my fault.

So instead of a light and healthy lunch, I had a large sausage roll for my noon meal, on that day and every day from then on until we left. The result was, instead of boarding the plane with a buffer zone, I was carrying a handicap.

And then we arrived in America, with its buttery biscuits, Reuben sandwiches, clam chowder, proper bacon, tall stacks of pancakes, chicken fried chicken, Brueggers’ chili, corned beef hash, Goldfish (don’t get excited; it’s a cracker) and extra-large bags of Chex Mix and, well, apparently (if my critics are to be believed) what I need now is a tee-shirt with “Goodyear” emblazoned across it.

So now I’m wondering what is worse: the thought that I have left my American friends with the impression that I am letting myself go, or all the carrot sticks and bowls of soup awaiting me upon my return home.

On the other hand, those sausage rolls were really good; maybe I’ll visit that stall again, and then see if there’s a place in town that makes novelty tee-shirts.