Last night wasn’t particularly eventful. We went out to dinner with some guys from work to celebrate Christmas break. The restaurant wasn’t very fancy and we spent a normal amount of money. Then I put on my Third World glasses and screamed, “Holy shit!” When you compare your average American’s night out with the 50% of the planet who live on less than $2.50 a day, you realize we are gods. America is a country built on mind-boggling inventions, remarkably diligent entrepreneurs, and unfathomable mountains of hard work. We take all this greatness and indulge in opulence that makes the Roman Empire look like a trailer park. What is everyone complaining about? Right now we’re celebrating a tradition that involves getting drunk with people who love you, eating until your stomach hurts, and opening tons of presents. What the hell is in heaven, cheaper beer?
It’s impossible to starve in this country. In fact, our biggest problem with the poor is they’re getting too fat. Everyone has a smartphone, even homeless dudes. There are more cars and guns than there are people and it’s virtually impossible to find a home without a fridge and a TV in it. When I put on my magic glasses it is impossible to understand why every so-called oppressed minority doesn’t thank their lucky stars Fortuna’s deadly wheel plopped them down on American soil.
My boss ordered a couple of seafood platters for the table and what was once some boring lobster bits on ice became glowing examples of intense magic. New York is an island, but we’ve deemed the fish around us too unclean to eat. So we hire fishermen from around the world to find us cleaner sea fare. Men in Maine work around the clock catching us lobsters they then freeze-dry and FedEx to the restaurant for overnight delivery. The shrimp came from China and were shipped here by boat. The unfathomable marvel of just the planes and boats that were involved in this appetizer boggle the mind. The short film I, Pencil focuses on one tiny facet of our incredible existence, but it can be applied to everything. You know what aboriginals in the South Pacific do when they see a plane? They assume it’s God himself. They’re kind of right. When you peel back the onion and discover the millions of people behind pencils and planes and boats, you realize there is an omnipotent force uniting all this talent. Atheists say it’s just the meritocracy of evolution, but they have a knack for staring into the eyes of an infinite universe and going, “Meh.”
We didn’t finish the seafood platters because we were saving room for the main course. Eating in America involves taking small portions of each course so you get to sample everything. If I’m less than halfway through my steak and I start feeling full, I eat faster so I can get more in before my brain shuts the whole thing down. After we’re done, we drink coffee or digestifs such as cognac, which are really just chemicals that trick the body into digesting more than it was designed to. A vomitorium by the coat check would not be out of place.
The appetizers we didn’t finish will be tossed in the garbage. We throw 33 million tons of food in the garbage every year. This is food poor people from around the world slaved to create. Even here, a chef will spend twenty minutes creating a crème brûlée we will take one bite of and then shove away because we’re stuffed. New York is so lousy with food, there was a rat walking down the stairs carrying a slice of pizza. In Vietnam, they eat rats for dinner.
One of the guys at the table was a 23-year-old virgin named Ben who I’m convinced is a closeted gay. If we were in the Middle East, he would have been hurled off a building long ago. In Africa, he’d probably have tires put around his body and be set alight. I don’t think there’s a Caribbean country where homosexuality isn’t illegal. Like most people in this country, we could care less what his sexual proclivity is. If he’s meant to be gay, go bananas and grab yourself some wieners. We are so self-deprecating and negative, instead of appreciating how great it is for gays and maybe getting a thank-you, we punish anyone who doesn’t effusively embrace them.
One of the waiters was black. I don’t know his feelings about America, but he was probably making a few hundred bucks that night and he likely has at least a little animosity toward this country. If his ancestors were slaves, they were sold to us by nonwhites and we ended the whole process not long after. Is there a black person in America who thinks they would have been better off in Africa? A few gave it a whirl and ended up with Liberia, a shitty nightmare with Ebola. This country wasn’t built on slavery, and any money it did make was gone after the Civil War when our balance was in the negative. Even if you believe reparations are a good idea, we already paid them.
The waiter refilled my glass of water, and again this new take on reality left me gobsmacked. The water he was pouring likely came from 150 miles away at one of the nine upstate reservoirs New York uses for what has been deemed the champagne of tap water. It gets here via gravity through an incredible aqueduct system built by a few brave souls who were sick of New Yorkers getting sick. Nobody dies of dysentery in New York, but it’s the No. 1 cause of death in the Third World.
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