Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 59

Some little stories about America

Mike the Mechanic

“Hello there,” (Best British Accent), “there is a light on my dashboard and I don’t know what it means. Can anyone help me?”

Room of mechanics turns round. (There are times being blonde and British help A LOT.)

I am greeted enthusiastically by Michael. Michael has a broad New York accent and is super helpful. He has those blue overalls on with his name embroidered in because they know he is going to work there forever (like in Ghostbusters – you know the type), and a scar on his cheek. I like Michael, although he is a rubbish flirt:

You from New Jersey?

Um, no.

Just kidding, that’s a British accent, right?


Anything wrong with your car, you just call me – here’s my card. You call me, you hear – any time. Cars, drinks, you got my number.

Anyway, Michael gets my tires sorted (they only need air – I had checked what the sign on the dashboard meant on Google, and was just chancing my luck that I would get it done for free, instead of doing it myself at the air thingy as am pretty rubbish at that sort of thing……so who’s the clever one now Michael?).

I drink free coffee  in the soulless customer lounge, look at the other customers in the lounge: one asleep;  a couple I am sure have just had a row; one bored; one engrossed in TV; one very loud grandma on her cell phone telling her friend Julie, and the other lounge customers, what’s up with her turn signals – that indicators to my Brit chums; and one eating the entire contents of a microwaveable popcorn bag), and I watch a brief 8 minutes of the USA equivalent of Homes under the Hammer, or other such nonsense (for info, it was a very pretty gay couple who were looking for an up-market pad in Santa Monica area, and from what I saw were v fussy indeed – didn’t even like the Spanish style villa – I would have taken it, but not my call).

After this eventful lounge session Michael takes me outside to show me the car is fixed and I am ‘good to go’. But I’m not, because Michael wants to have a chat, and there is something about Michael’s demeanour that makes me think I should probably stay (in the cold) and listen to what he has to say, because I’ve begun to put two and two together and Michael is definitely Italian, and as much as I love the Godfather and all other gangster/mafia genre films, I do not fancy a horse’s head in my bed (my parents are coming to stay for God’s sake) or a body in my trunk….

So, Michael tells me ALL about how he proposed to his wife (‘You wanna hear it? I’m gonna tell you.’ I nod enthusiastically.) I shall summarise it for you, because it was a long story (I found out what they ate, where they ate, what she was wearing, what wine they drank etc).

Here goes:

It’s their third date, Michael has spent all his wages on a ring, he gets too nervous to ask over dinner, so they get to the parking lot and he thinks now or never. Homeless guy taps him on the shoulder and asks does he have a dollar just as he is about to go down on one knee and do the deed.

Michael says if he gets the right answer from his lady then the guy would get fifty dollars. To cut the next bit very short, the homeless guy gets fifty dollars, and Michael and his missis have been happily wed for 17 years. I could tell you about Michael’s son and daughter, but even I’ve had enough. If you’re reading this, only kidding Michael 🙂

Taco Bell

Every time we pass Taco Bell, I say to my other half: we must go there – it’s sooooo American. He replies (every time) that it is the sort of place that, after you’ve eaten at it, you come out feeling all disgusting and sick. But it’s soooo American!

Stop press, though, and I mean no humour in reporting this. There was only a bloody shooting there the other night. The manager of Taco Bell. Five miles up the road. He’s in a critical condition. Now, it was 1am when it happened and it was in the parking lot, so it might have been totally about something else (oh, I am going to do that awful jumping to conclusion thing that I hate, but….potentially drugs related / he was in wrong place at wrong time…?). Anyway, I’m kind of cool with giving Taco Bell a miss from now on.

Black Friday

OMG! Black Friday! This is going to be a whole new experience.  My new American GBF told me today that on Black Friday (which is the day after Thanksgiving) it’s a mad shopping frenzy across the entire country. It’s sale time! I’ve heard and seen the adverts for Black Friday sales, but I did not realise the scale upon which the frenzy is feasted.  It’s a bit like Boxing Day back home, I’m guessing.

Stores actually open at 12.01am on Black Friday for the mad rush. You can go online to a site dedicated to the Black Friday sales listings and opening times. WTF?!

I shall share this Black Friday experience with you next week then!

What is Thanksgiving?

I realised that I actually did not know what we were supposed to be giving thanks for next week, so I geared up Google to give me an answer….and here’s the history lesson:

Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has officially been an annual tradition since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.[1] As a federal and popular holiday in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. Together with Christmas and the New Year, Thanksgiving is a part of the broader holiday season.

The event that some Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621.[2] The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, and was attended by 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.[3] The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought, though the 1621 events were likely not a religious observation.[4]

In my neighbourhood the decorations are already up – I had no idea I had to get some. Oh hang on, maybe they are Christmas ones? Oh, I am so confused. Oh bloody hell, that means I have to get out the Christmas decorations soon, and we all know how much I hate tinsel….

Iced tea

Today I tried Iced Tea for the first time.

My conclusion? It tastes like cold tea.

I may grow to love it.

Two observations

People are clearing up fallen leaves from their yards and gardens. Apparently there are some rules about this – that we have to do it. I hope they are still there when my mother comes – she loves a bit of gardening 🙂

There is an awful lot of roadkill about, especially deer. In their dead state deers’ legs seem to point very rigidly up to the sky….or perhaps Michael is preparing a little surprise for me……

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11 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 59

  1. This really made me laugh! it’s uncanny really,I had a very similar experience in a garage in Toronto where being blonde and British also got the nitrogen (yes nitrogen?!) topped up in my tyres for free! It’s the Canadian thanksgiving I October and being hostess for the first time I also googled what we were celebrating just in case someone asked me! Iced Tea…Yuck! I tried it for the first time in the summer, tea is meant to be hot and served with milk that’s all there is to it! And lastly the leaves thing, I only do it because the neighbours do, although I think it’s like a bylaw or something. Has anyone told you you need to shovel the snow up too???? :-0

  2. Sarah says:

    When I lived in Dallas, we went to a Taco Bell and I asked them if they had anything that wasn’t too hot (as in spicy). They looked at me blankly, had NO IDEA what I was on about, I could have been speaking Welsh for all they knew.

    Anyway, eventually I chose something at random after my then husband told me to just get on with it, and I would agree with your husband’s analysis. We didn’t go there again.

  3. EmmaK says:

    I have never been to a Taco Bell either. But it may put you off that they use dehydrated beef that they reanimate with water!

  4. MusicaliseMD says:

    From what I can tell from traveling and my British in-laws, Black Friday is like Boxing Day. But ugh…. unless you need the season’s hot toy, don’t go first thing in the morning. Some people start lining up before Thanksgiving even starts, just so they’re first in line!

  5. ThatOtherGuy says:

    This is the quintessential “confused Brit in America post”. I love it. Esp. the Black Friday insanity. It’s like when people hear you’re from New York City they say “You must go to Times Square for New Year’s Eve every year!” Um. No. We avoid it like the plague.

    Black Friday it up to you but for a similar experience you can just attend any sporting event where there is a riot or fire during the game and attempt to get out. You’ll have equal luck purchasing anything and the trampling will be about the same.

    Thanksgiving is, however, awesome.

  6. Great post and thanks for clarifying Thanksgiving i’m completely lost on that one.
    Do we really have to clear leaves? I notice my neighbours get Mexicans in to do the job. I raked mine into a pile because my garden bin was full – maybe I should move them now (if we ever get a dry day)

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