The Road to Beverly Hills

The Road to Beverly Hills

Notes from different corners of the world.
Oct. 7 1999 9:00 PM

The Road to Beverly Hills

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Dillon, Colo.; Wednesday, Oct. 6

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We were somewhere around Kansas when the drugs began to take hold. Benadryl, Prednisone, and Cimetidine make a potent little combination. I was out for three hours, during which Bob violated our carefully negotiated cassette agreement by playing two of his loud Germanic rock tapes back-to-back. In the middle of my drugged-out stupor, I believe I heard something on the radio about how Jenny Craig is paying Monica Lewinsky $10,000 for each pound she loses on Jenny Craig's weight-loss program. But wait a minute. Why would this convince an average overeater that the Craig program works? The average person isn't going to be paid $10,000 for every pound she sheds. The McSalad Report: Since Hagerstown, I've been unable to find a McDonald's that sells the McSalad Shaker. In fact, most McDonald's staffers look at me like I'm an escaped lunatic when I ask for the product. (It doesn't help that I'm still wearing my hospital identification bracelet.) Using the power of the Internet, I calculated the chances that any given McDonald's will carry this major dietetic innovation. The news is grim. There are approximately 12,000 McDonald's outlets in the United States. There are only 900 outlets that carry the McSalad Shaker, and 550 of them are concentrated in Southern California. That leaves only 350 for the rest of the nation. Even if those are equally distributed, this means I only have a 1-in-32.8 chance of walking into a McDonald's that serves the McSalad Shaker. Good grief. The odds that I'll sleep with Bob are better than that!

New thought: I've noticed that nobody in the United States says "You're welcome" anymore. In Canada, where I'm from, "You're welcome" is still the customary follow up to "Thank you." But here, when you say "Thank you," the best response you can hope for is, "No--thank you." Sometimes you get total silence. And the most common response is "Yup" or worse yet, a low, honking "Uh Huhhh."

Is there any deep social meaning to this shift? Is it that Americans are becoming more sensitive and "You're welcome" sounds immodest, even aggressive, as if a huge favor has been done and is owed? (Indeed, the only accepted use of "You're welcome" seems to be as an actively hostile reminder of ingratitude--"You're welcome," as in "You forgot to say thank you, you asshole.") Or does it just sound too formal? My own theory (which I admit may be a stretch--but remember, I'm on drugs) is that it is part of a large anti-community trend: People want to have as little to do with other people as possible. Elaborate exchanges of respect imply a degree of entanglement Americans now wish to avoid.

Another disturbing trend: Bob has taken to removing progressively more of his clothing in my presence. The first night, he was walking around the hotel room without his shirt on. Then, the next morning, he casually mooned me. And yesterday, I looked up into the large mirror on our hotel wall only to see Bob emerge from the bathroom en déshabillé. "It was an accident," he claimed. "Who knew the mirror was there?" The man is so transparent.