This I Believe

Donna - Lake Jackson, Texas
Entered on November 25, 2006

I believe I’ve been giving America a bad rap.

I admit this, openly, and I have no excuse.

It seems common for one to critique most harshly that to which one is closest, and I close to this U.S. of A, having not been out of it, save for a couple of brief jaunts in Canada….strange, considering I live a few hours away from Mexico.

I have asked myself, why? Why, when thousands upon thousands of people risk their lives to find the simplest existence within these precious borders, do I hold such contempt for my own land, my own culture?

Perhaps it is because I grew up being called “fat”, yet I often have to decide between paying $2 for a small bottle of water or $.85 for a 48 ounce fountain drink.

Perhaps it is because I feel my soul cringe when I hear a person list among his or her hobbies “Shopping.” That bears repeating: Shopping is considered a hobby. Think on it.

Perhaps it is because, from years of conditioning, when I am in a room with a television, my eyes are automatically drawn it. I could be sitting at a table in a restaurant, engaged in conversation, with a plate of luxurious food in front of me, and I will still look at the screen. Hell, I could have Brad Pitt and George Clooney each respectively holding a gun to my temple and telling me that they would both concede to live with me in fully-financed sin if I would but look them in the eyes. I guarantee my gaze would still be glued to the T.V.

Perhaps it is because, several years ago, my nurse in the stem-cell transplant ward had found her then 26 year-old cancer patient crying uncontrollably. Maybe it was because the hairless wonder had to be on a morphine drip to drink water. Or maybe it was because the hospital’s financial department had just called the patient on the phone (not knowing the number rang in a hermetically sealed room six floors above their offices) and threatened the patient with legal action for money.

Perhaps it is because, if I were to drive 100 miles in any direction from my home, 75 to 90% of my journey would be flanked by strip malls, most of which are about the same color and construct as sun-bleached dog feces.

Perhaps it is because folks in our political administration talk of war in terms of “win” or “lose”, as if it is a late-season bowl game to be played in some far away stadium. (Many of these same people believe the word N-U-C-L-E-A-R is pronounced “nuke-yoo-lerrr”. Go figure.)

Perhaps it is because I’m lonely, and I talk to my cats too much.

Whatever the reason, I realized that I have been too harsh on my homeland. I mean, hey, this is America (or Uh-merr-ih-kuh, if you’re big on nuke-yoo-lerr defense). I am lucky, nay, blessed to be here in this Land of the Free. So, long before the Christmas decorations bloomed in my local chain department stores, harbingering the approach of Thanksgiving, I decided that I need to define what I am truly thankful for (other than common acceptance of grammatic structure that’s ungood). After three half-hour prime-time network T.V. slots, two impulse purchases and a $.68 frozen pizza, I came to the following conclusion:

I am thankful for public restrooms.

Do not underestimate the sincerity with which I make this claim. I am relieved (for lack of a better word) that I do not have to wear large skirts and open-cut knickers for practicality’s sake. I do not have to step over running rivulets of sewage in the streets. I do not have to pronounce my left hand as “dirty” and commit it to the singular service of self-cleaning. As I travel around these United States, commuting daily for hours upon hours, I can confidently know that, on 75-90% of my journey, I am within ten minutes of a restroom, whereinwhich I may safely urinate, or micturate, or… well, other-ate, and all for the low low price of a gallon of gas and/or something that contains high-fructose corn syrup.

It is in this that I find peace and solace, knowing that I live in what may be the greatest nation of toilets in the world.

God Bless the American Standard.