April 08, 2005

Welcome To California

There's a huge California for whom public self-absorption is a right (even a duty) rather than something shameful or mildly repellant.

A billion years ago on my first trip to California (a Pan Am 747 from London to San Francisco) I watched in amazement as a flaky-looking forty-something woman in bad tie-dye clothes got up mid-flight and spent thirty minutes or so earnestly doing rather self-dramatizing Tai Chi excercises in the middle of one of the aisles towards the front of the cabin. People struggled to get around her, people struggled to see the movies past her, but she seemed oblivious to everything but her own performance. I tried to squeeze past her once with a meek "Excuse me..." (in my best British accent) before accidentally hitting one of her outstretched arms. My little "Sorry!" was met with a careless flick of the hand and a loud imperious "That's OK."

I didn't know it then, but she was saying Welcome to California...


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