I was born in Texas. You might have picked that up. And in Texas, from the moment we take that first earthly breath it is drilled into us that our state is the best place, with the best people, ever. Indeed, the indoctrination may begin sooner -- it is not at all hard for me to imagine a cowboy standing and screaming Lone Star patriotism at my mother's stomach. That famous scene in "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" is factually based.
I'm more mature now, I've seen a little of the world; I realise that Texas is not actually better than every place else. There are some places that, in their own sort of way, are as good as Texas -- for example, Minnesota and Wales.
But having said that, it's important to remember that no place is better than Texas. Any persons having the audacity to claim otherwise are not only intolerably arrogant but an insult to intelligent people everywhere. This fact is at the heart of why I do not like New York City (a).
Natives of that city haven't a fucking clue about the rest of America. They don't even know where we are -- a New Yorker once looked blankly at me when I told her I was from Minnesota and said: "That's down near Idaho, isn't it?"
No. No it is not. Neither Idaho nor Minnesota are "down" from a New York perspective, and they are only near each other in the way that they are not near China. How massive is the distance that encompasses Minnesota and Idaho? How many millions of square acres does it contain? It is a fucking great huge chunk of the country and she doesn't have a clue about it.
Yet New Yorkers bill themselves as being all you need to know about America; everything that is America lies within the five boroughs and any venture beyond is academic.
My mind fires when I think about NYC and all the things I don't like about it. The deep insult to my Texas core is too much for me to handle, I suppose.
I was thinking about all this stuff on the train Wednesday, mumbling angrily to myself like a mad man as I bounced toward Cardiff Central station. I was thinking about it because I was going to be interviewed for Welsh-language television and was psyching myself up to take a stand.
I was being interviewed for politics programme "CF99" about the Super Tuesday results. The interview was to be held in Cardiff's New York Deli (b). I was OK with that. Although I have always refused to go there because if its name, I realised that it made sense to do an interview about U.S. politics in a place that had lots of U.S. flags. Admittedly, when the producer had told me where he wanted to do the interview I had blurted out, in English, "I'm not from New York," but that's not what was eating at me.
What I was mulling on the train ride into town was his suggestion that he would film me eating a bagel and drinking a Coca-Cola.
Now, generally, I want to be an easy interview. They pay you to do interviews in this country and I would be happy to build a reputation as someone to turn to when the Average American opinion is desired. I am eager to please -- how else would I have once found myself wearing a baseball cap ('cause it looks American, see) and sitting in a tree (never understood that bit) reading a Welsh dictionary for the sake of a South Wales Echo photographer? (c)
But a bagel and a Coke. No. I couldn't do it.
First off, would you do that sort of thing to anyone else? If you were interviewing someone about Irish politics, would you give them props of Guinness and a potato? But even that I could get beyond. You know, I'm American but I'm speaking Welsh. My accent when speaking Welsh doesn't really betray my being from the United States, so, you know, it's nice to have visual clues. Otherwise I'm just some bloke.
And the Coca-Cola I could handle. It's an international beverage. In my head I associate it as much with soccer as anything else.
The bagel, though...
Just thinking about it, I could feel my soul dying. I don't have a great deal of shame. I will lower myself to all sorts of things. I am no man of high principle. But I will not be filmed in a New-York-themed deli eating a quintessentially New York foodstuff.
Thankfully, the issue never came up.
When I got to the deli, the producer bought me a cup of tea and set up for the interview. No Coke. No bagel.
Maybe the deli doesn't have bagels. Maybe he picked up from my "I'm not from New York" outburst that I wouldn't be keen. Maybe he thought better of it. I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he had, in fact, been taking the piss -- Welsh people have their own experience with being put into silly boxes.
We went through the interview and, with the exception of my stumbling in trying to pronounce "dychymyg," I was pretty happy with it. Although, when it aired, my words were at times difficult to hear because someone had confusingly chosen to add a sound bed of "America" from "West Side Story."
Being associated with Puerto Ricans -- Yeah, I'm fine with that.
(a) Or, to a lesser extent, California.
(b) My aversion to all things NYC aside, it actually looked like an OK place and the woman who ran it seemed really nice, so I will go to the trouble to tell you that it can be found in High Street Arcade.
(c) Thankfully, that picture, and the story that went with it, never ran.