At the Council Meeting at North Bend, the Mayor asked me if I could lead the pledge. At all formal gatherings, Americans pledge allegiance to the Flag, nation, etc. I told him that was inappropriate (I didn't say it quite like that) since I was a foreigner. "We're all foreigners in this country", he said, and he went round the room, asking everyone their nationality.
Now, except for me, they were all Americans. But not one gave that answer. The same thing happened, on Monday, later that evening, when I was saying farewell to Oregon. They all use their immigrant-ancestor-nationality as though it was their own, however complicated that comes out.
When I say 'complicated', none of them would be allowed entry at Cruft's. But don't be misled: they are all fiercely patriotic Americans, although it may be where our special relationship comes from: they nearly all have some Brit in them, at least when I'm around (yes, yes, I made that joke as well – go to your room).
One of the topics at the farewell was what the 'Ducks' were. The newspapers talk a lot about the Ducks in the sports section, assuming the reader knows what that means. They said that's the University of Oregon (at Eugene): all their sports teams are called 'the Ducks'. "But", they add, leering knowingly, (it's 'later that night'), "Oregon State University (at Corvallis) are called the 'Beavers', even (nudge, nudge; wink, wink) the girls' teams"!
I am carted home from the farewell by my pool opponent. He possesses a 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ. I fleeting contemplate the possibility that the 'Black Pope' is so named because he is covered in used engine oil, but it turns out that 'SJ' means it's a 'stick-shift automatic', whatever that is.
My eyesight is somewhat impaired at that time of the evening, but I can barely see all the way to the end of the hood/bonnet. What a car! 400 cubic inch engine, which is how Americans do it: that translates into about 6.5 litres (Americans insist on 'liters', although they never actually use the word, or know what it is). I forgot to ask, but it must be a V-8.
Then I am left with my fears. They have talked a lot about my impending visit to the Mohave Desert. They think I'm mad (they could be right). They think the temperature is bound to be a thermometer-breaking 110-plus (that's well-north of 43, in new money (((how's that for a mixed metaphor!)))).
And I do have to say: I am afraid of this next bit.