I am in America! Nailbunny’s condo just outside Philadelphia is my first hostel, and very nice it is too. But let’s rewind.

I rolled up at Gatwick this morning having been driven by my dad through the glorious english summer morning, and, after some struggle, navigated Terminal S. Deserving of mention was the wonderful cockney usher who, in between keeping a dozen unruly lines in check, effortlessly deadpanned all incoming questions. “Where’s gate 19? Why, it’s in the airport, sir!”

May he inspire us all.

The flight over was about as well as I could have hoped for. My companions were an intelligent, chatty, social worker wife-of-a-professor, and a mildly obese woman who sometimes dozed, often broke wind, and always smiled faintly. Upon landing 7 hours which were actually 2 hours because oh god time travel later, I was given a brisk, professional check-over at immigration. Which lasted twenty minutes. Ho-hum.

Overwhelming impression is that I am suddenly in the titular land of the giants. Flying over the coastline – the vast, vast coastline – the sense of scale is just staggering. There are huge houses in huge suburbs in huge forests. The land spills out everywhere and rumbles away from any sense of discipline. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Looking down onto England, you’ll see a tame patchwork of fields and carefully contained, hedge-fringed spaces. America just has so much space. It’s just… it’s so big.

Not only geographically, too. The cars are big, the food is big, the houses and roads and trees are big… And, quite often, the people. I saw my first truly morbidly obese person today, heaved belly-first onto a shopping trolley that scraped its way out of Best Buy. Unsettling. One of the supermarkets I went to was simply called ‘Giant’. It was kind of touching in its unabashed honesty, I thought. Here is a store that is not pretending to be anything other than as big as inhumanly possible. There’s not ever any suggestion that America is prepared to do things by halves. It puts our Tesco ‘superstores’ in the shade, and I haven’t even seen one of the notorious Wall*Marts yet.

Nailbunny and his girlfriend took me out to a local eatery of sorts, where there were five different TVs with five different channels on the walls and American Rock blasting from the speakers. It seemed very apt, but nothing would prepare me for the size of the ‘small’ nachos I had picked out from the menu. It was not a meal. It was a minor geographical feature. The tortilla chips were stacked a good four-and-a-half inches high, and there was enough cheese in there to entirely fill two Mills and Boon novels. The two plates it was on were so hot that they melted the varnish and fused to the wood beneath. Men have died for less.

I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with all this scale. I’m only a diminutive chap, after all. Suddenly I am a very small fish in a very big pond, and the pond has salsa dressing and jalapeno peppers.

There’s also a lot of little weird things about America too, especially the omnipotent domination of capitalism, but that’s another post. I saw some of Philadelphia today, including South Street, where I bought a phone. Hooray! I will post it in the PA thread in the form of an image. It’s now 11:30 at night and I am absolutely shattered, having not slept for… I don’t know, I think I may have to borrow someone’s DeLorean. I head back into Philadelphia for further exploration tomorrow.

Nailbunny is tall.

10 Responses to “Brobdingnag”

  1. 1 TK-42-1 13/07/2009 at 4:37 am

    heh. your first morbidly obese person? shit son you have atleast 1,000 more fatasses to see before you’re all through. trust me.

  2. 2 Jobastion 13/07/2009 at 5:31 am

    I counter your tame patchwork, with our exceedingly tame patchwork. Squared. None of your crazy angles and varied landscape… we know the cardinal directions, and stick to them.,-94.473839&spn=0.197995,0.528374&z=12
    (You’ll actually be riding thru this area later on the way to Minneapolis, this looks to be about an hour and a half southeast of it.)

  3. 3 Adam (Melkster/Melkor) 13/07/2009 at 6:19 am

    Jeez, Flippy. You write insanely well. I really look forward to reading your witty remarks for the rest of the trip.

    Especially when it comes to driving through Texas.

    Then you’ll understand what vastness is.

  4. 4 Wavecutter 13/07/2009 at 10:39 am

    “heh. your first morbidly obese person? shit son you have atleast 1,000 more fatasses to see before you’re all through. trust me.”

    I resemble that statement.

  5. 5 nailbunny 13/07/2009 at 6:07 pm

    For reference:

    Yesterday, I picked him up at the airport and we drove into Philly. We drove up Broad St, looped around city hall and then up the Ben Franklin Parkway. We looped in front of the art museum (and Rocky statue), before heading back down to City Hall. From there we went east on Market and turned next to Independence Mall on our way to South St. We parked, and walked around the South St area, including Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River. That’s when he got his US cell phone.

    We then headed back out to Delaware, but got caught in traffic as the Philly’s game let out. Once back in DE, Flippy helped me exchange a TV that had developed a defect. That’s when we encountered the obese woman in the checkout lane.

    Then it was off to the grocery store (Giant), and subsequently, Target for some staples (pretzels, cookies, cereal, and some deodorant for Flippy). Instead of returning along the main shopping drag (Rt 202), I opted to use the backroads taking him through a small section of the Brandywine (Rt 92 to 100 to 52.)

    Once we returned home, we settled for a few minutes and then headed down the block to dinner at Kid Shalleen’s. They have decent food and beers, and that’s where Flippy ordered the nachos.

    Oh, and we happened to get a new puppy on Saturday, a bit earlier than expected. It threw our weekend agenda out of whack. Flippy’s been a sport about that and my girlfriend worked her butt off to take care of the dog and clean up the condo while we were out.

    This morning, I let Flippy sleep in. Since he missed the train, I drove him up to 30th St Station to show him where the train departs from to get back to Wilmington. Unfortunately, they don’t run Greyhound of that station, so I ended dropping him off at the station at 10th and Filbert.

    He’s roaming Philly now, and will call us when he’s heading back so we can pick him up at the Wilmington station.

  6. 7 NotACrook 13/07/2009 at 7:30 pm

    I thought the Rocky statue was down by the stadium complex. Did they move it back?

  7. 8 Arminas 13/07/2009 at 8:08 pm


    So what will you do if Flippy doesn’t call you back? You should install a GPS tracker on him or maybe an RFID chip behind his ear. 😀

  8. 9 rayofash 17/07/2009 at 1:10 am

    You’re on the east coast, it gets very VERY different the further west you go. Those small nachos you ordered? That’s a ‘Super Giant Godzilla Large’ over here. You order a small over here and all you’re going to get is a single tortilla chip with a paper cup full of cheese that’s half the size of a shot glass.

  9. 10 rayofash 17/07/2009 at 1:10 am

    Also, bonus points for using ‘brobdingnag’.

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