FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND 

FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND

To some people, going on holiday means stuffing their pack with gear, learning how to use their whisper light stove, strapping a sleeping bag to their back, and venturing out into the great wilderness. I am not one of them. To me, roughing it is ... well, what I did last week. Spent four days in two rooms overlooking the beach with the other five members of my immediate family and an HBO connection. It was quite fun, actually. I got to practice my championship water ballet routines in the hotel pool, jump waves in the Gulf of Mexico, and perspire during several one-set matches of tennis. I also got to sit under the sun (slathered in 45 SPF sunscreen, of course) and read until my little heart s content. I had gone to the bookstore near the beginning of the trip and picked out several fictions that I thought would be rather fun: contemporary yet intellectual, beachy though not trashy. The firstI devoured, the second I relished, and the third ... I stopped short. A pattern had emerged: All my books were about people in England. I kept reading references to EastEnders and CV s (or is it VC s?) and not really knowing what they were (a show on the telly and part of a job app). And then it was all about quid and pounds and the tube and Manchester United. I thought I was going to be reading hilarious tales of credit card debt, Internet matchmaking, and a faked adoption. Instead, what did I get? A load of bloody BritS. Not that I m actually complaining. All the books were quite amusing during my little vacay. But it got me wondering: Did Bridget Jones kill the American protagonist with her off-the-wall antics and flaky charm? (Don t get me wrong; I read and liked both Bridget Jones books -- there was two, yes? -- and, at any rate, found Hugh Grant to be quite smashing in the film.) Or, did I pick up all the English authors because I subconsciously fancy the life of a Londoner? I m not quite sure what exactly is the answer. I can t think of a city more different from Memphis than London (okay, I ve never actually visited London, but I ve certainly read all about it and it sounds quite dissimilar), so it might just be a general Memphis ennui rearing its ugly head. Londoners do have those yummy accents, but I like Southern accents, too (mine is Midwestern blah). And their movies are mostly just Hollywood products released a few months later. And I hate rain (it s why Seattle and I don t get along). Despite all that, I think I might be over America. Everything looks the same to me (Target, you gotta love them, certainly isn t helping) from sea to shining sea. A veteran roadtripper, I ve gone places that looked exactly like places I was 200 miles before. Sure, you get your little regional differences, but at the heart of it all, America is America is America. So London. I think I could really get into a spot of tea every evening; I already have an intense dislike for coffee. And snogging gents in taverns, that sounds delicious. But perhaps London is just the next big thing and I m just another jaded consumer looking for the next big thing. We ve already stolen their game shows (which I hate, but that s besides the point). And Madonna moved there and Madonna is hardly ever wrong in her trendiness (had she not achieved superstardom and motherhood and all that, she would have made a perfectly lovely trend spotter). And she adores London. She even has a touch of an accent at this point. Of course, when I mentioned all this to a friend, she suggested that before I move across the sea, I go ... camping. That s right, sleeping in a tent on the ground. See the real beauty of America. Maybe I ll try it on my next week off. Yes, I ll go camping, you know, on a big boat headed towards the Virgin Islands. That sounds just about perfect.

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