Saturday, November 30, 2002

This evening I found myself chatting with an American in the Starbucks in Borders in Charing Cross Road in London's West End. She appeared to be attempting to read all of Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels in the coffee shop in one sitting (a truly Titanic effort) without paying for them. I was reading the December Atlantic Monthly (which came complete with a nice poem in praise of Brunel) without paying for it. I interrupted her and started a conversation (which probably completely ruined the Neil Gaiman experience for her). The question of which bits of America I had been to came up. I mentioned I had visited Ohio, and she said something disparaging about Ohio, as Americans do. I replied with "You, know, there is an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in which....." I was going to complete this sentence by saying "a character says 'Yes, I know there is a lot of demonic activity in Cleveland' into the phone, and my American friends find this line hilarious", but she just burst into giggles without my having to say anything. Americans always find that line to be hilariously funny. And she knew the line I was going to quote, even without my actually having to quote it. (I then admitted to having the first 122 episodes of Buffy on DVD, which is sad, given that only 100 episodes have been released on DVD. What I meant to say was that I had 100 episodes on DVD).

I get that the line about Cleveland is funny because Cleveland is perceived as one of the most boring places in the world, but I don't get why Americans find this line quite so funny. I think when I fully understand this, I will fully understand America.

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