It is like a different country. I mean California compared to Texas. Today's stroll on the sunny Laguna Beach with the supertanned surfers and yesterday evening's fat-free frozen yoghurt at Golden Spoon in Irvine, Orange County is worlds away from the loud drunk named Ross floating down Guadalupe in a tube shouting "Yeehaa", the no-attitude openness or the steaks of mid-Texas. Even the slogans are from different worlds. When a shop in San Antonio sells T-shirts saying "Don't mess with Texas", even the font on the license plates in California communicates sun and chilling.
Our first encounter with the local was exciting. As we waited for our shuttle bus to Orange County, the girl handling the orders decided to brighten up her and our day with a chat. "Welcome to LA! You did not expect to run into a crazy black girl, did ya!" Or that is what I think she was saying. My education in Queen's English was leaving me in the cold with her thick accent.
In the 10 minutes of waiting she told us the story of her life. By now I am fully convinced that every American has a good story to share. Hers was a moving one but spiced up with Jennifer Hudson-like body movements and shaking of the head and hand. The Super Shuttle girl - as she called herself - had come to LA from New Orleans after Katrina, lost her uncle and aunt in the catastrophe and had been forced to stop her studies in medical assistance. But the American dream was relived again in her final remarks as we boarded our shuttle for the two-hour ride across town:"I am gonna get back to my studies but it is hard. But I tell you, I am gonna make it here. So you boys, I am telling you, don't you forget the Super Shuttle girl!"
She popped into my mind today while watching morning television. One of the 300 channels played once again the dumb-ass remarks of Barbara Bush as she was visiting the shelter for the Katrina victims:
"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."
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