In days where Barry Bonds and bridge disasters dominated the headlines, two years of exploring foreign shores and exotic cultures sadly came to an end, finishing the same way in which it began, with some long distance running through the streets of Chicago. Even though severely lacking the physical abilities of two years earlier and weighing in at a hefty 28 pounds heavier, I was more than satisfied finishing the Chicago Distance Classic in two hours. Many of my fellow competitors didn’t share such a carefree attitude, with squabbles, slanging matches and near fist fights breaking out at regular intervals over the 13.1 mile city course.
I was happy to see that the ‘Windy City’ hadn’t changed much in my two year absence, named for the hot air of past politicians rather than the cool sharp winds that often blow off Lake Michigan. Every street was still full of rich architecture, magnificent skylines, and half a dozen or so homeless guys, their vacant white-eyed glares highlighting their lost sanity.
Finishing a long distance race for many people would surely be the weeks highlight achievement. Not for me though. I had an issue far more pressing, something that would grant me a much longer sense of gratitude and well-being; the buying of my fiancée’s ‘true’ engagement ring. Now I was away from Third World poverty and in the upper class suburbs of Louisville there was nothing stopping me from purchasing the real ring, especially considering the $5 original was lost to the waters of Naples Beach during a harmless game of frisbee.
Picking a cheap piece of scrap iron was hard enough, but deciding to buy one that came with its very own diamond using an expired credit card was nothing short of foolish. This left me in the slight dilemma of having to choose between borrowing my agitated fiancées credit card, or embarking on the ninety minute round trip, in sweltering hundred degree temperatures to retrieve a different bank card. Of course, I knew the answer. Who could allow a fiancée to buy their very own engagement ring? Ninety minutes later my future wife was sporting a smile a million carrot rock could never produce.
Engagement was a hot topic during my time in Kentucky, chiefly spent in the city of Louisville, who proudly boast of being America’s 16th largest city. Boasting so much more to the potential tourist offer, I really do believe there are more lucrative opportunities that local government officials can focus upon, such as promoting the high number of strange loners who walk the length of the cities highways, carrying nothing but worn-out guitars. Actually, they do promote the past greats who were born and raised here, including Muhammad Ali and the legendary Colonel Sanders. There is even the Kentucky Six Flags theme park located next to the cities international airport. After a poor girl had both her feet severed on a ride here recently, I think this will be one place I’ll be giving a miss.
Inter-continental weddings are always bound to cause the odd navigation problem. Choosing to host the wedding in England has already led to certain future family members voicing their concerns over possible kidnap threats. Even in this day and age of constant hideous and brutal carnage, I still feel such views of ‘merry old England’ slightly disturbing.
Unless you are English and have lived in the US, or visa-versa, it’s hard to believe the cultural differences of these great nations, with the joys of sarcasm easily being the biggest and most challenging for many Americans to grasp. By now I should learn that making jokes about Catholic priests and paedophilia is always going to end in failure.
I should also know that when visiting a family friends house, whose husband is now in prison for sexually abusing their own son, and who is banned from ever making contact with them again, I should not reply with ‘he looks just like your husband’ when joining a conversation of whom he looks like th