A favourite pastime of bar staff in the US is asking for ID, regardless of how old and haggard a patron may be. One time I didn’t have it on me, so I said ‘You want my ID, ok, here’s my ID’, smiled and pointed to my face. ‘Now, tell me if you honestly think a 20 year old could generate this many wrinkles. I spent the first 25 years of my life in the sun. I’m fucked’. My girlfriend gave a consoling pat on the back. ‘Now hand me that Sam Adams.’ ‘Ok sir, I’ll give you a drink, just promise you wont smile for the rest of the night’. She then turned to my girlfriend, ‘Mam, I know the USA worships freedom like it’s a burger and fries, but you’ve taken the concept of freedom too far, this man is twice your age.’
‘It’s with good reason mam, this man works in an industry I too wish to work in. It’s like buying shares in Wal-Mart, it’s not right, but it secures my future. I have my tits in the till’.
‘You said that was only a rumour, I thought you loved me’.
I do, just not in that way’.
‘Oh’. Another comforting pat on the back.
My fetish for black culture meant I insisted on spending an afternoon in Harlem. We went to the Lennox Bar, which Lonely Planet strongly recommended, with words such as, ‘classic, lounge, jazz, big names, favorite, beautiful, historic’. I think those words were code for, ‘seedy, shit, ghetto, surly-black-folk, hunched-at-bar, unwilling-to-serve, speak or acknowledge, awkward white middle class tourists.’

We waited to be acknowledged, before breaking the silence with, ‘Um, may I please have a beer’, holding bills aloft to confirm our commitment. Nothing. Ok, the polite white guy bit isn’t working, time to change tact. I casually leant over and whispered in a smooth, confident voice, with self-assured grin, ‘C’mon man, I know the score, I’m from Brixton, now how bout that beer’. Finally, we evoked response, albeit a bemused, Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction styled one, ‘Firstly, what is the score. And secondly, what the fuck is Brixton?!’
‘Ah’, Smug grin, ‘it’s a predominantly black neighbourhood in South London. We recently hosted a night of the London riots and the biggest UK riots of all time in the 80’s, the Brixton riots. Plus it hasn’t been taken over by hipsters, graphic designers or people who work in marketing. It’s real man, and I live there. I’m street. That’s the score. Bottle of Sam Adams thanks’.
Get out.
C’mon man. See that, (pointing at girlfriend hunched in corner looking afraid) she just graduated from Uni. Not only does she have no money and no job, she also has a 90 grand debt. She’s poor, real poor.
What’s your point?
She’s poor, like you, you’re poor right?
Get the fuck out.
Ok, you want ghetto? My brother battles addiction and has 2 kids, a body full of tatts and lives in a crap house, he’s legitimate ghetto. He’s what the hipsters try to be like. He has a beard because he can’t afford a razor, and it’s so big he now doesn’t know how to get rid of it. His jeans are tight because he set the temperature too high when washing them and now can’t get them off, so he just wears them all the time. Once he slept in a city park. And he’s my best friend. He’s street, I’m street, now give me a fucking beer you classist black fuck!*
That was our cue to exit.
*Story embellished for effect. And I say ‘black fuck’ sarcastically, I may be Australian, but I’m not racist, quite the opposite. I need diversity.

Worst introduction of the trip:
Hi mate, nice to meet you.
Nudge, that’s a chick. Oh Shit. Yeah, we call everyone mate in Australia/UK; woman, men, animals, kids, grandparents. The way you guys say like before every word, we say mate, mate. Bullshit cough.
Most disappointing news:
A sign on a Chicago train said ‘No gambling allowed on this vehicle’. I looked up at the sign, ‘Damn! Where’s the luck!’. I then packed the cards and roulette table back into my bag. ‘Sorry guys, we can’t gamble as planned on this train, better try a bus’.
Biggest contradiction.
Reading a billboard advertising the 12 commandments while on the road, then immediately after seeing a giant sex shop called the Lion’s Den. Not just one, several while driving down the highway. What sort of person is so into sex that their needs can only be satisfied by a giant sex store?
All American Hero Award:

I stuck a Communist sticker on the bumper.
The second piece of disappointing news

‘This just isn’t my trip is it’, as they confiscate my backpack full of chainsaws before boarding a plane.

Other interesting insights
American woman say like, like… a lot.
All the men aged 35plus in DC look exactly the same.

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