The fourth of July in New Zealand was actually yesterday. We celebrated with chocolate bars and nachos, mainly because the red solo cups are only sold at the American store here and driving down the road to that store seemed like an especially grandiose effort to exert for another country’s independence.
I also took the liberty of celebrating the fourth in the most American way I know…
Now today is a completely different story. It’s the true fourth of July in the U.S. so the celebration must go on. I have received multiple “congratulations” from people here who I can only guess are congratulating me because they think I’ve had a hand in our freedom. It’s a fine assumption because I really want them to like me. But it has gone horribly wrong today and I’m now considering grabbing a pack of red solo cups that could hold something nice for my solo night of emotional self-pity.
It’s Andre Agassi’s fault. Our team was having one of those moments where our inner thoughts hang out on the street together and banter until they don’t make sense and one of us feels we’ve been kicked in the mouth by someone else’s inner thoughts. It doesn’t always end like this. Sometimes we share chocolate bars or they help contribute to my celebrity crushes Pinterest Board. Such was the case yesterday.
Today Andre Agassi ruined the zen.
(Adele) Andre Agassi. I really like him.
(Poppie) Oh, Andre Agassi. He’s still such a heart throb.
(Me) Who’s Andraye Argarsee?
(Poppie) How do you not know who Andre Agassi is? And you call yourself American!
(Me) Is he American, too?
(Poppie) He’s American. And he’s a tennis championnnnn!
(Me) Oh, tennis…? Well, that’s why.
(Poppie) His a 50+’s dream. Like Harrison Ford. The shining boy from the magazine covers of 1994.
This conversation sounds nice. But then they brought up Pete Sampras, another lame tennis star that I’ve never heard of because he wasn’t in the NFL. Stone me. Next we discussed the American dream. I was informed that the New Zealand dream is something about owning your own quarter acre of land and a flock of sheep. Poppie says the New Zealand dream is to leave New Zealand. That made a lot of sense to me.
Then my inconsiderate American mouth had to say something stupid because the conversation was already going so well: I think Americans act like they are more proud. But Kiwis are actually more prideful.
Picture now: Slow turning heads from around the room. The new guy (who really is new… started two hours ago) says, “Are you kidding me??!!!” A recap of what happened next:
By this time, I’m very sad. Prideful is a real word, it means to have a lot of pride. Even with dictionary.com on my side, I’m being eaten alive. Kiwi water-boarded. It’s terrible. So I beg all my colleagues to do me this single favor, if I ask them nothing ever again….
(Me) Suzi, can you tell me just one good thing about Americans?
(Suzi) It’s really scenic in America. And Americans embrace success — you are happy when other people are successful.
(Poppie) Yeah, we’re not like that here.
(Me) Poppie, tell me one good thing about Americans.
(Poppie) The decadence… and New York.
Interrupted with a Skype from Matt who saw this on my plate of homemade brownies for whanau day (if you don’t know what ‘whanau’ is, Google it along with “Andre Argassi” who you’ll see is a total cheese):
[3:09:23 p.m.] Matt: “Why are you putting that note on there, Lindsey?” “…because Matt will see it and just help himself!”
After giving Matt a brownie:
(Matt) I don’t like generalisations. And I cannot generalise 160 million people. But if I had to… I like the parts of America that tackle bullying. And… you don’t care what anyone else thinks. Like the red-neck Olympics.
(Poppie) Oh no. That’s a terrible thing about Americans. (*Editor’s note: It’s better if you try to hear these words with a Kiwi accent, they are much more like sharp daggers instead of marshmallows)
And more answers.
(Xena) Some of the movies you make. Not all of them, but some.
(Liz) Alcatraz… I loved it when I visited there.
(Me) You mean… where we used to keep our prisoners? That’s the only good thing about Americans?
(Adele) You are so overly friendly. And just helpful. I love America!!!
And the answer that redeems all the other answers and restores my faith in this entire country and my own country…
(A random passers-by-er that I forced into giving me his own answer) You are all the most fascinating people in the world. You walk down the street and you see 58 people doing 58 different things. The sense of individuality is strong, but the sense of belonging is equally as strong. And the York peppermint pattie.
Happy birthday, America. We love you!
*Also, I don’t have a colleague named Xena. She said she’d like to be nameless. So I named her after a warrior princess. And Matt would also like to be called Jason Bourne. I don’t have many issues with it so in future posts, I’ll refer to him as J. Bourne.