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Diary of an Atheist Priest_4
Visiting USA and American hospitality
I feel very fragile this morning. Mrs Smythe’s husband is visiting the USA and she thought it opportune to spend the night at the vicarage. God, what an insatiable woman. And on top of it all, she seemed to be inspired by her manse surroundings as she kept quoting biblical references throughout our symposium, such as ‘get thee behind me Satan’. Very distracting for a man of God, even an atheist one.
I envy Mr Smythe. Not because he is married to such a talented, imaginative and versatile woman as Mrs Smythe, but because he is visiting a place with such genuinely wonderful people, as the USA. I have been there four times for different reasons and each time I have been captivated by the people there.
As soon as I stepped off the airplane, complete strangers treated me like a long lost brother. Even the person who stamped my passport bathed me in smiles and wanted to know about my flight, my family and my garden at home. People at the airport would smile and want to chat, appearing apologetic that they had to rash off in order not to miss their flight.
Restaurant owners in the USA stand alone. They appeared to place bets between themselves as to who would be able to stuff me with more food than the other.
Same for American Mayors. They seemed to want to give me the keys to their city and invite me home to meet the little woman and kids. When I would finally manage to tear myself away, they insisted that my absence from their city will spell irretrievable ruin for one and all and that the sunshine would go out of their lives for ever. That was a bit of exaggeration on their part I thought, but it was nice to hear anyway.
The people of Appalachia in particular captured my heart. They are called hillbillies for some reason. I can tell you that their chicken and possum gizzards with pigs feet in aspic do not deserve the unsound reputation they currently appear to enjoy. They were, in fact, delicious after a couple of pints of their excellent homemade moonshine, when one simply exists on an altogether different plane. My hosts there could not have been kinder. They gave me to understand that I stood between their happiness and black depression and they just could not do enough for me. Only the thought of my departure appeared to irritate him unspeakably.
When I finally managed to tear myself away, the sunshine appeared to go out of their lives and I could hear the wailing of the natives all the way down the hill to the train station.
I did not know that such hospitable and generous people as the Americans existed on this earth. Every time I visit there I am treated like a billionaire bachelor uncle in his nineties, ready to drop at the slightest cough. When I leave, I am given the impression that had I stayed a little longer, the people would have included me as beneficiary in their life insurance. It’s a thing of mystery and beauty.
If it wasn’t for their politicians, who, like ours, are awash in mediocrity and completely unmoored in principle, the place would be paradise on earth.
To be continued…