Sunday, December 6, 2009

10 Ways to Die Slowly and Enjoy It

I spent two years in Japan and the first thing I noticed, besides the fact that I didn't know how to read, was how small everything was. Just about everything is built on a 2/3 scale. The cars, refrigerators, streets, cameras, semi trucks (hilarious, they look like toys), food portions, apartments, and people are all 33% smaller than they are in the good ol' USA. In Japan, space is a commodity. In the US we could barricade off an area the size of Japan's arable land, use it for testing nuclear weapons, and no one would be close enough to even notice. If you don't believe me, drive through Montana. Or Nevada. Or any state in the barren wasteland between the Rockies and the Mississippi.

What I'm trying to get at here is that I never would have realized how much space we have here if I hadn't gone to Japan and experienced being squeezed onto a train by tiny little guys in uniforms.

I think it's pretty rare to be able to experience your own culture from an outsider's point of view. I had one of those moments right when I got home from the Japan, and the first thought that went through my head in the airport was, "Americans are HUGE." I mean everyone is just so big. I thought the guy waiting next to me at baggage claim was going to eat me. I didn't let him leave my peripheral vision in case he made a move towards me. No wonder Japanese people wouldn't make eye contact when I tried to talk to them.

Anyway, this point that Americans are huge (and why) was emphasized to me the other day at the doctor's office. As Shayla and I were in the waiting room filling out paperwork the floor started vibrating slightly, and three enormous people walked in. I mean sweat-pants-wearing, belly-hanging-out-of-the-shirt, haven't-seen-their-toes-in-years, still-exhausted-from-the-elevator-ride big. Now I just clocked in at 240 myself so I'm no slouch, but this little club was... mammoth.

We live in a culture of acceptance, tolerance, not blaming people for their choices, and all that crap, so I just figured maybe they had a gland disorder or hormone imbalance that made them gain weight faster than you and I. But then I heard them talk.

As we sat there, filling out paperwork, their conversation (between gasps of air from the "lower oxygen content at this elevation") was about the relative merits of fast food restaurants. They talked about fast food the way men talk about sports. It was a detailed discussion on cost, flavor, speed of service, depth of menu, and every other aspect of slowly killing yourself you can think of. Their devotion to their respective team would have been inspiring if it weren't so disgusting and visibly unhealthy.

On that note, my next post is going to be about the best burger joints in Provo.

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