At lunch today I looked down at my sandwich with bewilderment. ‘This six-inch sandwich is bigger than a six-inch sandwich in Scotland,’ I said. And I was given two cookies instead of one. My parents laughed. ‘Everything is bigger in Texas.’
But it isn’t just Texas. Most things are bigger in the U.S. in general. Bigger cars, bigger cities, bigger portion sizes, bigger people. Even the deodorant and toothpaste bottles are bigger. While I have enjoyed visiting friends and family, I have not at all enjoyed being surrounded by the culture of consumption, sometimes being outright barraged by it. To walk into a store and be a rat in a maze of so much stuff, advertisements playing overhead, signs shouting ‘Sale!’ and other cajoles to get you to consume, consume, consume.
‘Where do the clothes go, if Kohl’s doesn’t sell its stock?’ I asked my mom as we walked out of the store. Oh, it’s sent to Marshall’s, or Ross, or T.J. Maxx, or some store like that. ‘But what if Marshall’s or Ross doesn’t sell it’s stock? Where does it go then?’ She didn’t know; perhaps back to a factory to be recycled into new cloth, made into rag, put into rugs. The waste is disgusting. ‘Excess is excrement,’ as Odo in UKL’s The Dispossessed would say.
Not to say that the UK is that much better, or Scotland, or our little town. But when you don’t watch television and your community consists of other thrifty postgraduate students, it doesn’t quite feel like you’re being buried in dung.