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Jet-lagged Ramble

Back from Italy. Back in the US of A after a flight that lasted roughly as long as the Inquisition.

Confess your heresy! Or face . . . the coach seat!

For the love of Christ, not Delta! Not Deltaaaaaa!

4,570 miles. That's the distance from Florence, Italy to Chapel Hill, NC, if you believe Google Earth. I left to go to the Firenze airport (Bruschetta Internazionale) at 5:30 am. I arrived at RDU at 11:30 pm. Adjust for the time zones and that's 24 hours. (Disclaimer: me and the math, caveat emptor.) That's an average speed of 190 mph. Better than a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail, but not exactly orbital speed.

Do you watch the little flight progress screen when you fly? You know, it tells you your airspeed, how much longer you have to go, and then fades to a map with a superimposed airplane showing your position? Do you find yourself breathing a sigh of relief as you get close to Newfoundland because you figure hey, worse comes to worse you can swim that last 100 miles to shore? A thousand miles out, that would be bad, but hell, who can't swim 100 miles through the North Atlantic? I'd make a raft of seat cushions. No problem.

Important Update: I found the Nutella waffle mentioned here. I ate it while watching the sun set from the Ponte Vecchio. And, as always, I tell you this only to irritate you.

You know what's mostly bullshit? The idea that Italians all dress like runway models and Americans dress like Mike Huckabee out mowing his lawn. Florentines were looking kind of scruffy, really, which is weird given that a Euro should be able to buy a lot more slave labor-produced Chinese clothing than you can get with a dollar. It was unpolished shoes and black down jackets. If there was a sense of style it was limited mostly to exotic Paul Shaffer glasses.

In part that cliche -- fat, dowdy, stupid Americans moving like water buffalo through crowds of fleet, expensively-shod and fabulously dressed Italians -- is based on a rural vs. urban thing. Tourists come from all over the US, from savage Tennessee to the wilds of Nebraska, and then funnel into Euro-cities. They look as hillbillyesque as they do when they travel to New York. Stack a New Yorker up against a Roman and you'd have style parity. (And a black hole of self-regard.)

In any event, the cliche, which certainly used to be true, is less and less true every time I go over. Americans are less slovenly, Europeans are more so. We're still fatter, God knows, but even that gap is narrowing. I don't think it's that Americans are losing weight, I think it's that they can no longer fit into airline seats.

However, fear of that Ugly American cliche invariably pressures me into dressing up rather than down, when I go. I realized after I'd been there a couple of days that I was wearing Italian shoes, Italian slacks, and an Italian topcoat, and as far as I could tell, I was the only one. The best thing -- aside from the loving family deal -- about getting back home? Sneakers.

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“Jet-lagged Ramble”