Oh, this is rich...loved every word. You've been served. Go - read. Spew beverage.
Of course, Birmingham has an elite who travel all over Europe. But only one-sixth of all Americans possess a passport,
That’s because our nation is HUGE, pal; of course Belgians all have passports;their country is the size of an average American rumpus room. They've burned out every available domestic vacation option by the time the kids are six - whereas this joint is so big our senior citizens retire, buy moving houses, and devote themselves to visiting each of the fifty states. Plus, we don’t need passports to go to Mexico, which one could spend another lifetime exploring. Europe’s wonderful, but sometimes when you think “vacation” you’re not in the mood for rain and indifference, no matter how much aristocratically-commissioned beauty you have.
. . . and in Alabama the proportion is much lower. One suspects the European geography of many people here goes no further than the playground rhyme:"I see London, I see FranceI see ------- in her underpants."
Let’s recap: our correspondent is sitting in an Olive Garden chain restaurant - a successful chain devoted to celebrating the cuisine of another country, a chain whose menu is full of references to old Italia. He has deduced that the food is generous, filling, and does not vary from outlet to outlet. From his window seat, he concludes that Alabama stretches in all directions, and when it bleeds into another state, there is no significant rupture in the taxation structure or rules of the road. The one chap he has engaged has been able to name three European countries, and has a job piping satellite TV (According to the home page for the Birmingham Dish TV affiliate, the first upgrade package includes the BBC channel). His conclusion: “one suspects” that they know nothing more of Europe than a children’s ditty. One suspects that poor Steve will be the only local cited in this story - especially since the night clerk at the Holiday Inn turned out to be an International Relations major at the local college, is writing his thesis on Chamberlain and Disraeli, and engaged the correspondent at length the other night until the correspondent wanted to shout I don’t know, okay? Just because I’m English doesn’t mean I know what Gladstone would have done in a postcolonial diplomatic construct! Christ!