American adventures (Part 3)
(Parts 1 & 2 can be read on the "Archives" of this Weblog)
...Well, I had made it....the target of
of miles in Greyhound buses, travelling through places like Denver,
and god only knows how many other places.
Of course, what I'd seen was just the bus station of all these places,
but I could now honestly say "I'd been there....!"
3 days, 2 nights of jiggling up and down in buses, but with the
exception of the food, I'd enjoyed it, and I could say that I'd
Now - I couldn't look another fried chicken piece or a Hamburger
face without feeling ill!
Of course, as tradition has it, I had arrived in Colorado Springs,
USA without luggage....it was probably on it's way to New York,
had what I stood up in, and I could always borrow one of my
"Reverend" shirts and clerical collars....!
In the end, I only had to wait for a week or so, before
my luggage, in California as I recall, getting a suntan....!
I was here in the "Rocky Mountain State" for a month, with
who had lived here for a few years already.
North Carolina was behind me, Washington DC and Europe lay ahead
and the first thing to do was to try and get some stuff into my
to eat and drink!
Being teetotallers, no alcohol was allowed, but their "Condominium"
called "The Satellis" had the ground floor full of boutiques and a
with more importantly - a BAR, where happy hour seemed to take
place all day!
Placed right next to the swimming pool, in between the pool and the
the bar became a second home!
Just over the road was the Golf Course, and between there and the
a well known route - to me!
...Of course I spent time
the area and driving my parents as well, in their hired car...
They had decided
to make a "holiday" as well, so we went around
the "Great Sand Dunes" - a strange
- desert in the mountains... and - of course - the "obligatory"
trip to Denver,
State Capital It was spring/summer,
so we had no trouble with snow nor even rain.
As usual, I rapidly made "acquaintances" amongst the locals.
Bars and Restaurants
are good for that, and the ground floor also had many boutiques
I became friendly with. The first three floors were hotel rooms,
the "permanent suites" in one of which my parents were accomodated
University, on a permanent basis. Not bad for a couple from
in Glasgow, Scotland!This photo is from the 1950's
the period just after my parent's
My first encounter in my search for FOOD (edible stuff of which
too much in America) took me to Walmart - although I recall that
more my mother who wanted to go there, for non-edible things.
Now I'd never heard of the place, so I went along with my wallet,
and I found to my surprise that they had little plates and bowls of
foodstuffs (at least they called them foodstuffs) hanging around, for tasting.
Most of it was either dried out, or just didn't look to safe, but I found
a couple of plates with some kind of "liver patee" drying out on top of
curling up at the edges "rye" bread.
Actually recalled British Rail sandwiches, but I stayed polite and poked
around to find a piece that was less curled up than the others, found one
and popped it in my mouth, when I heard a voice snarling behind me
"You touched that - get it eaten up....!"
Turning - I saw my first encounter with that American species - female,
65-70 years of age, just wandering around with her Mother, no
buying anything, just looking for trouble....!
With my best English accent, I replied "I do beg your pardon, Madame...?"
Reply - "Don't gimme none of that crap - you touched that - eat it...!"
"Dear lady, I poked around with the little stick which you may observe
on the plate...."
"You touched that - get it eaten....!"
"You don't seriously wish me to eat that stuff, dear lady....?"
"Never mind the dear lady bit, you touched that - get it eaten."
Reverting to French, I hit back with a few choice words, concerning
l'il old ladies, and she suddenly beamed and snarled....
"You gonna eat that or what....?"
Acknowledging defeat, I took the plate and managed to trip in such a way
that the contents slid off onto the floor. I picked them up, one after
- put them back on the plate - amid gasps from l'il old ladies, and then
the whole damned thing into the close by bin.....
With great "Tttttssscccchhhh'ssss" - they disappeared and went off -
arm in arm
- to find another foreigner to upset....!
.....such was life...!
Thankfully not ALL encounters were so friendly...
I had a couple of problems wherever I went in the United States, apart
from the food!
I was running out of my favourite cigarettes, French Gauloises or Gitanes,
and even in North Carolina (tobacco state nr 1) I could only get them by
going to the airport - a long way to go for stuff like that, and now a new
problem was showing up - wine and liquors....!
Frowned upon in any case, like the Puritan Fathers....
the liquors were available, but only in
the liquor stores, and then of course everybody knew what you were in there
for....and when you came out with your purchases in little brown paper bags,
you felt like somethin' out of Prohibion. I never could understand the puritan
attitude towards these things, and being European, certainly wasn't prepared
to accept it....!
I felt like a mini version of Legs Diamond or Al Capone....
I finally found a place where - on the first occasion - a young boy at the
check-out area slurred at me something about "prpr or pltic" -
didn't understand anything, but I finally understood he was asking me
if I wanted my purchases put into paper or plastic carry bags! Didn't really
matter to me, but since I'd noticed that the people who drove me to the
liquor store always parked at least 2 blocks away from it, and didn't seem to
know me until I'd stowed my purchases into the car boot (sorry - trunk), I
chose "plastic" which turned out not to help at all, because plastered all over
the thing was "J&B Whisky" .........
It's a situation I will always recall and relate to the USA, maybe I was just
with the places I stayed in.
On the other hand, I was roped in to participate in a couple of things which
would never have crossed my mind to participate in back home in Europe...!
A couple of "bar" friends offered to show me around a little bit of the night
in Colorado Springs, and it turned out that we were actually doing what they
called "cruisin'" - Now I know what that meant in Europe, and I had no interest
in that, but I found myself "cruisin'" around Colorado Springs, finally ending up
in a bar on a freeway, drinking "jugs" of
- quite horrible stuff.
No - it's not me in the picture....!
Then there was the "karaoke" stuff!
A whole Sunday lunchtime sitting listening to some really awful guys
trying to read and sing at the same time! I declined to sing something in
or English or Scottish or whatever, and a strange thing happened to me -
I found myself almost wishing I'd gone to Church instead!
In fact I ended up trilling a version of "House of the Rising Sun" which wes
rewarded with thunderous applause (politeness) and another jug of perfectly
I decided I'd just keep to the Golf Course, the Zoo and the other Tourist
One of them was rapidly becoming time consuming anyway. The people
in the "Condominium" had somehow found out that my business was "Cheffing"
as they called it!
In other words I became the "French Chef" on holiday here, and they
developed the wish for personal service in their large,
I finally had to stop it, after 4 or 5 whole evenings of cooking and serving,
which of course meant the shopping beforehand...it ended up taking a
large chunk of my holiday up, and although I enjoyed doing it, and they
so enjoyed finally getting something GOOD to eat, it just took too much
of my time.
One of the strangest facts that I encountered was the extreme difficulty
in finding "VEAL"...After all, veal is just young baby cows, and they eat
tons of beef....but VEAL... I did the whole of Colorado Springs before
finally finding it in a little Italian Delicatessen place with horrific prices -
but I wasn't paying - just cooking!
I was also able to find some European cheeses there, and the people paid
up with a smile on their faces...!Up till then, the only cheese I had seen
in America was the processed type, changing in colour, depending on
what State you were currently in....maybe usefull for "cheeseburgers"
but of no earthly use otherwise.......!
Another little problem I had was calling people by certain christian names.
I always found it extremely difficult, for example, to call the wife of the
Goldsmith and Jewellery handler by her first name - as she insisted I did.
She was called "Darleen" but the way they slurred it, it sounded more like
"Darlin'" and I didn't really know the intricate Society problems of calling
someone else's wife Darling!
I never got it right....
..as I never got the female bit right ....wonder why!
I never got the "dress" rules right either. As you can imagine,
in the Satellite bar were many retired Army people to be found,
most of them from Majors up to Generals, and I had promised to bring
back things like Stetson hats and Army shirts, so I'd been buying for
myself as well.
I noticed a decided "cooling off" when
I turned up in the bar one "happy hour" wearing my latest purchase.
I thought it looked rather smart, but........
I had no idea why, until one of my "friends" had sympathy with me,
and took me aside to explain that the shirt I was wearing was the uniform
of some US Regiment made up of "black soldiers" and on top of that,
I was wearing a "Private first class" style...!
The retired Generals couldn't understand why I was private 1st class
at my age....!
It was explained to them, and muttering "stupid tourists," they became
So - all in all, I passed an exciting time, and I found out that the best thing
to put in the garden as manure to keep away Rocky Mountain wild animals
was stuff like bear or elephant excrement, cordially supplied by a resident
who worked in the Zoo....May be good against animals in the garden,
but I can assure you - it isn't conducive to "cocktails in the happy hour"
There are many more little stories that good be told, but my return to
Europe was awaiting me, as was "WASHINGTON DC" my departure point
That will be in part 4 and last .......
(iwmpop) mr le marquis - Vauvert, France - December 2010