Another Great Escape

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pepperidge Farm

A post inspired by a packet of Pepperidge Farm (baked not fried!) snacks!

I have a thing for most things American. When I saw the packet of Pepperidge Farm snacks I just couldn't resist. I know it's money in Tesco's pocket, I know I probably didn't need to buy these snacks, but it was American.

My affection for things American is a mystery at times. I sometimes wonder, for a split second, whether I was adopted, or whether the years of American TV has brainwashed me. Some people I know really dislike American's, although most of those have never been there or met someone from the states. Maybe the proliferation of American food places (we now have Subway - Wendy's next please) is to blame?

My first exposure with real Americans (BA Baracus, Rocky and Superman doesn't count) was at Church. I was 9. There was something about their outlook and attitude that really attracted me as a nine year old. They were positive, friendly, off the wall and generally just nice people. I remained in that church for another 10 or so years, making friends and doing the growing up thing. At each stage in my life I was injected with a bit more Americanism. If it wasn't for an American Pastor I wouldn't have become a Christian. Now, I don't want too much emphasis put of these people - I can't discount the A-Team, Dukes Of Hazard or MacGyver for their influence either.

My attraction hasn't eased, infact, with the dawn of the internet things have got worse - We're on to our 2nd PT Cruiser. I've had the opportunity to travel and live in America a number of times. Each time adding an extra American segment to my life. My first trip, infact my first trip out of England, was at 18 years old. This really made me - I was a shy, spotty teenager with a dodgy dress sense before. I was forced out of my comfort zone, I was 4000 miles from home, with no Marmite, no Tetley Tea or access to Twiglets. I had the added bonus of speaking with an accent though. Meeting, working and getting to know other people of my age was what I needed at that time in my life. I came back, confident, still spotty but with an improved dress sense. I also developed a thing for Tootsie Rolls and Root Beer - this addiction is still something I struggle with!

Americans (generally speaking) have a completely different attitude to life. One that is so different to any other I have come in contact with. There is an unbridled enthusiasm, an unstoppable energy - something that is just different to what things are like here. I'm not selling out on Britain or my Britishness, and although I have often talked about it I don't think I'd permenantly move to the states. Whatever I do, wherever I travel, whatever I watch/eat/drink, it doesn't take out the Briton in me. The fact still remains that I am drawn to a nation/people/concept/image/place that is different to mine.

The people that I've met have had the most influence on me. Like I said before, in every segment of my life I've be in contact with Americans. The fact that we both speak a similar language shouldn't detract from how different they are. Their whole concept of doing things is just bigger, better, in someways more naturally professional - Just watching certain TV programmes - Extreme Make over: Home edition, for example, where they basically demolish a house, rebuild it 3x as big, furnish it from Sears, by the family a car or two and then fund their children through college or pay off their mortgage. In comparison, we have Changing Rooms with its £500 budget, MDF cupboards and Laurence with his frilly cuffs. There is so many other examples.

The way they do church is different too. Whether it be mission, worship, whatever - it just seems more real. It might not be, maybe I just haven't come across a similar British church or I'vebeing duped. I'm not talking about the tele-evangelists with big hair and booming voices or the super-dooper-mega-whoop-de-do churches with 3 zillion members, with buses, coffee shops, etc, etc. I'm talking about honest people who share their faith in a way that doesn't alienate, that reflects contemporary culture and makes me want to go on sunday or wednesday or tuesday night.

Maybe you have a thing against Americans, maybe you don't like the proliferation of their culture on the global scene - but they do things well and we could learn a lot from how they do things.


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