Disclaimer: I won’t be discussing the ongoing aftershocks of the E.U. referendum at any point. It’s sinister, imbecilic, and rather than “giving us control” has only empowered the vilest elements of our national culture. In any event, I would much rather wax lyrical about American lemonade.
You quickly discover that one of the best things about an 8 hour transatlantic flight is that you can indulge in a movie marathon without anyone daring to question your life choices. I managed to plough through four (The sturdily built suspense thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane, heartwrenching sci-if fable Midnight Special, delightfully naughty parody Deadpool and early Scorsese Alice Dosen’t Live Here Anymore) , which ultimately meant I didn’t get a wink of sleep for 23 hours.
You see, I had to rise at the unlawfully early time of 5.30 to meet our 12.15 Heathrow flight to Chicago, and with any other destination I would be as lively as fresh cadaver. But this time, my anticipation for Americana was spiking to dizzying, almost atmospheric levels, although a bubbling tonic of Coke and Dr. Pepper may have helped.
We touch down on American tarmac for the first time at Chicago’s O’ Hare airport, and the differences are swelteringly immediate. Remember those tin tunnels you walk through to board and leave the plane? They do an excellent impression of a Scandivanian sauna in a 90 fahrenheit heat, and it became rapidly became apparent that most Americans spend their entire lives migrating from soothing air conditioners to the cooling oasis of an ice machine. Stupidly, I even found the lobby quite surreal. It’s quite a thing to see a “Restroom” sign with your own bulgingly disbelieving eyes than through the reality distortion filter of a film screen.
Even the airport toilets are startling. The seats were tightly clad in a cling-film like wrapping which, when a hand is waved over the spotless cistern, is sucked behind the loo by a whirring internal mechanism and freshly replaced. For a moment, I honestly wondered if I had stepped onto the idealistically ultra-modern set of Stanley Kubrick’s sweeping sci-if epic 2001: A Space Odyssey. But then again, I would.
Thankfully, we soon had to catch our connection to the destination proper, Nashville, the jangly Jerusalem of Country and Western music and the fastest growing city in the country. Our journey would only last a hour and a half, I busied myself with the airline’s exclusive magazine. One article featured a photograph of a smiling suited man surrounded by a list of America’s greatest plastic surgeons. I swiftly tapped in some new entries into my address book and flicked the page. A interview with a local business man, passionately advocating the future of wind farming. His name was William O. Perkins III.
And then the Thompsons stage a surprise welcoming party. They give us stalks with cardboard USA’s on the tip and glasses patriotically moulded in the shape of stars.
Can I stay?