Exploring the U.S. philosophy ‘the bigger, the better’

<strong>The writer at Bolsa Chica Beach last November, relishing California’s “huge” waves</strong>

The writer at Bolsa Chica Beach last November, relishing California’s “huge” waves

Andrea Ciccolini

[Ed. note– The following piece, written by Signal Tribune intern Andrea Ciccolini, was only lightly edited in an effort to preserve his “voice” and writing style, as he makes his transition into learning English.]

Is it oversize? It is American. Why? Because “big” is one of the first features that comes up to the mind of an European when he thinks about the U.S. By now I spent in California more than three months and sometimes I’m still impressed by the dimensions of American things.
To explain this perception I will analyze a normal day in California comparing it with a day in Italy.
I wake up and I open the fridge to take something for breakfast. My roommates eat cereal with milk. Normal size of milk here is one gallon or more; in Italy is one liter (it means less than one third the size of American size milk). Also for cereal the American size is twice the Italian size. But I cannot drink milk so I focus my lazy morning mind to find orange juice, ham and cheese. I will take the coffee on the way. I found the orange juice bottle, oversized like the milk bottle. Cheese and ham packs of 20 slice or more, when in Italy is 6 or 10, are in the corner behind the big butter jar of 45 ounces. In Italy, in the fridge, we have the half of that amount.
Is it oversize? It is American.
After all the morning rituals I hit the street. The American roads. A small street here has two lanes. In my city a small street is so small that if you have a big car probably it will be impossible to leave that place without at least one scratch. And it’s unnecessary to explain how bigger are the American freeways than the Europeans.
Of course if the street is big also the cars must be big. In the U.S. a normal car size is considered a big car in Europe. There are a lot of jeeps and pickups with a high cubic capacity. Impossible to have so many big cars in Rome. Sometimes it is very difficult to drive in some street and find parking also with a small car. One of the most sold and useful cars in my city is called “Smart.” Here I have never seen this model. In that cubic car there is place only for two seats, no trunk, and the dimensions are: length 8.85 foot, width 5.11 foot, height 5.05 foot.
And, if you don’t have fear of driving a motorcycle, in Rome, the best is the smallest– the motor-scooter. Here, in the U.S., the best is the biggest– big pick-up truck with the door of the same size of the motor-scooter.
Is it oversize? It is American.
Driving in the large American roads I get to the office of Signal Tribune. After some hours of working, for the lunch break I decide to go to eat in a fast-food restaurant. And, of course, also here everything is bigger. A small American size drink glass is a mid size Italian glass. The same for the fries, the sandwiches and the chicken nuggets.
Is it oversize? It is American.
After lunch break I start working again. After a few hours I give the draft of my column to the managing editor, and I can go back home. But before arriving to my apartment I have to go to the supermarket. A place so big that to go from the egg section to the beer section and, after that, finding some pasta and tomato sauce I have to walk more than in the New York Marathon. Of course the eggs are in 12 or 20 pack, while in Italy is 6 or 4 pack. And also beer. Here is common to find a pack with more than 12 beers; in Italy 6 is the biggest.
In the line to pay, it is easy to let the mind jump from a thought to another. It is easy to think that also the bodies and the buildings in the U.S. are bigger. The parking lots and the theaters too. It is easy to ask: “Why is it oversize?”
It is difficult to find an answer. Maybe the reason is that here there is more space than in Italy to occupy. But the feeling is that sometimes too big is unnecessary and too often means more consumerism.
But in California there is also another thing bigger than Italy. Waves.
Without these waves, probably, I have never had the chance to try surfing in my life. “What a sad life,” I can say now that I’m almost addicted to surfing. Everything that surrounds surfing gave to me strong and positive feelings. To stay in the water with only my body and my surfboard riding a wave and feeling the power of the ocean beneath my feet is something amazing. It is something which feeds my soul.
Thank you, California, for having the waves bigger than Italian waves.

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