Monday 19 April 2010

Ode to Q tip

When you live abroad it’s the little things about your home country you end missing – barring the no-brainers like family, raiding your mom’s fridge, having your clothes washed so they appear white for the first time in years, and weather – unless of course you are a resident of somewhere hot year round and then I have no pity for you.

Number one on my list of things I pine for: a dryer. You have no idea how much you miss them until they’re gone. Without one you are resigned to crunchy clothes, towels that exfoliate a layer of your skin off (when I’ve run out of body scrub this can sometimes prove beneficial), and the lovely scent of mildew on anything thicker than a T-shirt. As well, your house ends up looking like an obstacle course of half wet laundry that you have hung on every conceivable surface. I have even taken to using the hair dryer to fast dry a few items in a pinch – note to self: if you smell a burning odor, it’s done.

For a lot of my ex-pat friends it’s food that they miss. For me that’s never been a problem; These days in London you can get pretty much anything you want, and contrary to old myths, they do most things very well now [of course if you want a plate full of greasy slop, you can find that too]. Although that said, if anyone can tell me where to get a good bran muffin I’m all ears [I’m Californian, my standards are high on this one so no time wasters].

Then of course it is the staple items one has grown up with. It's a simple fact that in the States we make ass kicking Q-Tips and ziploc bags. I know you’re thinking who really cares, but I assure you, a bad Q-tip would make you care. And trust me, if you accosted an expatriate that is flying back to Europe (not recommended), and ransacked their suitcases, they’re packed with those two items. For some reason – and I can’t speak for the continent – England’s ‘cotton buds,’ as they call them – have as much reason to be in my ear as a sharpened stick. People, it goes in your ear, softness should be your primary concern! [By the way, if anyone from Johnson & Johnson is reading this, I’d like a lifetime supply please]

Then there is the American ziploc bag. One could feel perfectly comfortable filling it with sulfuric acid, turning it over and shaking it over their naked groin area, and I’m telling you, nothing is escaping that thing. In fact, that should be their new ad campaign. Not the case in this country. Here it’s a bag that gives you the impression that it will close if it feels like it, but it is certainly not making you any promises.

The other thing I miss – I can almost hear Willie Nelson singing “On the Road Again” in my ear as I write this - is a good old American road trip on a four lane highway with a cheesy diner just ahead. Fine, I am limited when it comes to consumption of diner food, but the idea fills me with nostalgia. I suppose I could do it here, but the roads are a lot smaller, Willie Nelson is not really appreciated, and something about driving on the other side of the car (the different side of the road doesn’t seem to bother me for some strange reason) freaks me out. I think it must have something to do with a lifetime of accustomed left side depth perception, and now every time I drive here and I’m on the right hand side of the car, I close my eyes and squeal when I have to pass someone as I have no idea if I’m going to take off half their front fender. This does not inspire confidence in my passengers I assure you.

I’m off to shower. Today I think I may air dry and save a trip to A&E. May the force be with me.
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