I’m out on tour with The Walking Papers, and this is our first extensive U.S. jaunt. We have a four-man crew with us, two of whom are from the U.K.. These two lovely foreigners have never been to America, and it has been totally hilarious to witness some of their first impressions of “Merica,” because both these guys have killer senses of humor.
I’m sitting here now with Paul Spencer, our Manchester-born guitar tech, and we are drinking coffee on the tour bus which is currently sitting in a massive parking lot at a venue in Mansfield, Massachusetts. We aren’t actually playing in cities, but rather the amphitheaters outside of them, similar to the Gorge, which is nowhere near Seattle. We’ve been to places like Darien Lake, N.Y., Saratoga Springs, and Hartford, Connecticut, with a day off in Lake George, N.Y. While these are all cool places (and often scenic and beautiful), this isn’t exactly a metropolis tour.
So, what the hell are some of Paul’s observations of our country thus far?
Bigger Is Better: Paul has yet to have a meal in America and “clear a plate.” He is being nice, and doesn’t want to offend us, so he simply says that restaurant food portions are “generous.”
The Beer Sucks: Except for Seattle micro-brews, to Paul, the beer here is quizzical. He has been drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, and it’s a bit hard for me to try and explain to him the hipster resurgence of this redneck culture brew.
People are Really Nice: Obviously, he hasn’t been to L.A. yet. Period.
We Don’t Get It: Paul’s uniquely British (read: dark) humor will sometimes leave a light-hearted American scratching their head. Unless you are able to access the more twisted nether-regions of your psyche, the English sense of humor may leave you calling home for your mother to soothe you back to normalcy.
America Is HUGE: New York State itself is bigger than England proper. It’s got to be a head trip for a visiting Brit.
Truck Stops: “Bloody hell, you could do your weekly shoppin’ in these!” Ah yes, we show our visitors only the best America has to offer.
The Ladies are Friendly: Paul says that he believes the women folk here may have a thing for his accent. He also states that back home, his accent—more succinctly, the things he says with aforementioned accent—will often just get him a slap in the face. But not here. Paul has a safe haven here in the warm cocoon of the bus. Poor bugger.
People are Welcoming: I explain to him that because we saved England from speaking German back in WWII, we have a savior-complex that pushes us Americans to be nice to our little English pals.
Sports: Everybody loves sports in America. He is fascinated with all of the different leagues, and college sports are MUCH bigger here than in the U.K. He’s impressed with how our MLS Soccer is coming along and even likes our Sounders. Yea, us!
We Have Some Things to Learn About Slang: Paul cleared U.S. Customs at the lovely JFK Airport which took two hours of standing in a line that seemingly didn’t move. It wasn’t “ream” (cool) says Paul. He didn’t feel like a “playa” (uh, player or cool guy), or even a “LDP” (little d*ck player). “He was right wanker innit,” Paul exclaims (translation: “Wasn’t he a slow man with an attitude?’). He had to wait so long that he had to go strait to the “loo” (bathroom), and “drop King Kong’s finger” (um…yeah).