The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

Single story America today



One day of life cute american town: work, home, food, shopping. And one mysterious castle.
“No, no, sir,” said Mr. Adams, “you must not be angry. You are in a small American town. " Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. "One-story America." Eighty years ago, journalists Ilf and Petrov sailed to America on the ship "Normandy" - to denounce capitalism. A year later, they released a book in which a demonstrative fixation of vices and a carefully hidden, but still obvious respect for the achievements of another civilization were surprisingly intertwined.
They traveled almost all of America, I hooked only a tiny part. And today I want to tell at all about a grain of sand - a small town in the middle of an island in the state of New York. But single-storey America consists of such grains of sand - this was 80 years ago, this is how it is now. It is even surprising how little has changed since then.
Normal sunny winter day safe American town. The life of one street. Work and home. Food, binge and shopping. Alive and dead. And one mysterious castle.

Instead of joining
“There are, of course, several cities in America that have their own unique face - San Francisco, New York, New Orleans or Santa Fe. They can be admired, they can be loved
or hate it. In any case, they cause some feeling. But almost all other American cities resemble each other, like the five Canadian twins, who are even confused by their tender mother. ”
The first time I saw him was in the summer. I took a taxi from New York to the island - to my school. It was early morning. We turned off the freeway and entered a small town. Red brick, closed restaurants, silence. Rabbits were jumping on the lawns. I grabbed my phone and sent an SMS to Moscow: “I see rabbits !!”. To be honest, they impressed me as much as Times Square.
Over the months in New York, I have seen many of these towns. In the summer - with the Chinese woman Sally, who occupied all my weekend, trying to squeeze the maximum out of the Russian, who had come in large numbers, who was lucky for adventures. We left our car on the only street of the next town and went deep into the evening. Dine in a restaurant, dance in a bar, look at the locals. Go out to the ocean if there was an ocean next to the street.
I saw women on the street. Over forty. Silk blouse, expensive trousers, moccasins, gold jewelry. White teeth and deep wrinkles. They walked by the hand with their husbands. Husbands looked younger. Nearby were their adult daughters and almost always a dog. They went to a restaurant - Chinese, Italian, to a pizzeria. Once in a bar, we had a long discussion about a tall handsome man. He came in and everyone rushed to shake hands with him. Take a selfie. We thought - sports star. It turned out just a guy who has a wedding tomorrow.
These towns were similar to each other, like two drops of water. They would surely tire the traveler. They may have tired their people. Probably a year later I would have died there with boredom. But every weekend I was terribly attracted to another single street. Often - stronger than in Manhattan.
In winter, I immediately noticed such a town from the train window. Another hostess sent me there - to eat sushi. This January I have been there three times. Alone she wandered down the street, ate the same lunch in "her" restaurant, chatted with a familiar saleswoman in a local "boutique". It was a very prosperous town. Expensive, respectable, boring. Stability itself is what I needed in January.
In fact, in its name was the word "village". He, like most of the fellows on the island, had only one main street. The street of my town for some reason was called the Seventh. I honestly tried to find the previous six - alas. Ilf and Petrov described smaller towns.“Syracuse, Pompeii, Batavia, Warsaw, Caledonia, Waterloo, Geneva, Moscow, lovely little Moscow, where the pharmacy serves breakfast number two: hot pancakes; doused with maple sap; where sweet pickles are relied on for dinner; where the movie shows a picture of the life of the bandits - a purely American Moscow. "© However, the city is one big village. And vice versa.
Point one. Job
“The architecture of the houses of the main street cannot bring artistic pleasure to the eye. This is a brick, the most outspoken brick, folded in two-story cubes. Here people earn money, and no distracted jewelry is supposed to. ”© Seventh Street can be walked in five minutes. But in these five minutes almost everything that makes up the life of a modern person is laid. I think, if desired, and good health, you can not leave the city for years.
There is a bank here.
Law office.
Travel agency and laundry.
Fitness Centre.
Of course, a huge pharmacy.

“We stopped in a small town and had lunch at the pharmacy ... When large American businessmen turned their attention to the pharmacy business in pursuit of profit, they were primarily interested in what pharmacists were doing behind their partitions. What are they there, it is important to scow their faces, rub them with pestles in their thick earthenware cups? Medication? Well, how many have these drugs in the world? Fifty, one hundred, well, one hundred and twenty, finally! One hundred and twenty febrifugal, stimulant or analgesic drugs! Why make them artisanal way in pharmacies? They need to be produced on a massive scale in factories.
Because medicines began to be manufactured in factories, the patient did not feel better - medicines did not fall in price. But pharmacists lost their earnings. Pharmacy manufacturers intercepted him. To increase their income, the fooled pharmacists began to sell ice cream, refreshing waters, small haberdashery, toys, cigarettes, kitchen utensils - in a word, they went all out.
© This time I bought vitamins, fruit salad and hair curlers in a pharmacy. Fifteen minutes spun a huge stand with earrings.
- Maybe I can help you? A guy in a blue uniform asked me sympathetically. To be honest, he did not at all look like a pharmacist, let alone a connoisseur of earrings.
“Fenkyu,” I replied politely. - I myself.
Not far from the pharmacy is a block of beauty. A huge number of salons. Nails, hair, teeth, skin, even a huge epilation center.
I wandered down the street and thought what it was like to work in such a town? Know the majority of customers. Is here too, idle talk with a manicurist about the personal? However, in the "village" lives about 20 thousand people.
Point two. Habits
“At the Michigan Avenue barbershop where we cut our hair, one was a Serb, another was Spanish, another was a Slovak, and the fourth was a Jew who was born in Jerusalem. We dined at a Polish restaurant where a German woman served. The person whom we asked for directions on the street did not know English. It was a Greek who had recently arrived here, straight to hell, from the Peloponnesian Peninsula. He had the mournful black eyes of a philosopher in exile. IN
In the cinema, we suddenly heard in the dark a loudly pronounced phrase: "Manya, I told you that you didn't have to go to this piccher."
"Here, here, sisters," Adams said, "you are in real America."
I came to town during lunch. I usually dined at a Japanese restaurant where they served low, narrow-eyed girls.
During my second visit to the restaurant, I unexpectedly met my owner. She - a native of Sicily - dined at a nearby table with a friend, a native Frenchwoman. They, of course, invited me to their table, but I refused. Why get into someone else's life, measured over the years. I ate my sashimi and went outside. A guy was smoking in front of the restaurant. - Well, how is the weather in Moscow? - he quite openly mocked someone on the phone. - And I have 15 degrees! I stand in the street in a shirt. Well, yes, at lunch, waiting for my salmon. For dessert, I sometimes bought myself a donut with a cherry filling and, of course, tea. "Cold or Hot?" - they always asked me again.“In the area of ​​temperatures, Americans are prone to extremes. They work in overheated rooms and drink too cold drinks. Everything that is not served hot is served icy. There is no middle ground. ”©

"- By the way, sirs, you noticed that Americans drink a little wine and
do they prefer whiskey to him? Oh! No, seriously, sir, don't you know? This is very, very interesting and it will be useful for you to know. This is a deep question. I advise you, sisters, to put this in your notebooks. You see, a bottle of good wine calls for a good conversation. People sit at a table and talk, and here one complements the other - without good conversation, wine is not enjoyable. And Americans don't like and don't know how to talk. You noticed? They never sit around the table. They have nothing to talk about. They dance or play bridge. And they prefer whiskey. He drank three shots - and immediately got drunk. So there is no need to talk. Yes, yes, yes, sir, Americans don't drink wine. "
During my six months in the United States, I didn’t often come across American-born people in bars. A respectable lawyer with Italian roots in an expensive restaurant in Manhattan drank whiskey and was not very fond of talking. The owner of a small car service in a bar on the island - German dad, Italian mom - drank ale and discussed geopolitics with inspiration. A pick-up artist in a New York club (British parents) quickly drank vodka with friends. A cheerful kid in a hipster bar in Miami was playing a liter-ball with friends for something strong. I saw a bar where there is no longer any need to talk - on New Year's Eve. And if I were asked to summarize, I would say that in American bars they prefer beer - in bottles of zero three, in the presence of orderly rows with taps of delicious, slightly bitter draft ale. I don't understand this for sure.
Point three. Food
“For a month and a half of our life in the States, we were so tired of American cuisine that we agreed to take any food inside - Italian, Chinese, Jewish, if only not“ brekfest nambr tu ”or“ diner nambre one ”, just not this numbered, standardized and centralized food.
In general, if you can talk about bad taste in food, then the American cuisine is certainly an expression of bad, absurd and eccentric taste that brought such bastards to light, like sweet pickles, bacon, fried to the plywood strength, or blinding with whiteness and absolutely tasteless ( no, having a taste of cotton!) bread. ”
© If sweet pickles and bastards, then certainly not inglorious - out there, even in the classics. The first thing I did in my first American supermarket, the first summer on the island, I went to the cucumber shelf. It was fifteen minutes walk from the supermarket to my then home. That's just why I didn't buy a three-liter can. I stopped by the gay men in Miami with an opened can of sweet pickles. A week later, gays began to understand bastards as well as a supervisor. “Try this taste,” they told me, temptingly opening the refrigerator door. Eric talked about the fact that cucumbers in Russia are sniffing vodka at work. He says he was a great success.
Fried to the fortress of plywood bacon I quietly floated the dog of my winter mistress in New York. How the dog loved those quiet morning moments! And bread ... Here, in general, nothing to add.
Better go shopping and see what feeds a small American town. Shops on the Seventh lot. Fresh meat.

Fresh market.
“Healthy”, “Organic”, “Useful” - stores compete with fashionable signs. This town is quite rich. Here you can afford organic. I am sure that the big supermarket on the corner will put pressure on "nature."
Surprisingly, right at the entrance are gingerbread cookies.
And baking. You will not pass by.
It became interesting, honored composition. The composition took half of the package on the back. Margarine, sugar, palm oil, a long string of capital letters and numbers. I am not paranoid at all, but the cakes are taken to each other.
Went to the green - to admire. If confused with proper nutrition - not a question. Primordial greens:
Green sticks.
Tomatoes - organic and not very.
Aunts from Downton Abbey.
For those who are too lazy to cook - ready.
When the supermarket - nook overlooking the street. You can have dinner without leaving the counter.
Much of the product is made in the USA. On the packages in large letters stated - a farmer such a syakoy. “Local” cheese, ham, yogurt. In the supermarket giant local I did not come across.
Point four. Shopping
“No, seriously, sir,” said Mr. Adams, constantly leaning out of
cars - you don't want to understand what an American service is. This is the highest degree of service skills.
..In the New York department store "Maisie" behind the clerks
there are posters to the buyers: “We are here to be bothered by you!”
The country respects and values ​​service. And service is not only the ability to trade and achieve some kind of profit. It must be said again: service has entered the very blood of the people, it constitutes an extremely significant part of the national character. In essence, this is the style of work. "
© I rarely go to small private clothing stores in Moscow. Irritation boils in me at the very first glance of the hostess from twenty meters. She stands haughtily in the corner, arms folded across her chest, and saying good-bye with her whole appearance, meaningly silently, says: “I knew it!”.
At this shop was a sign: "Glad glaring."
I pushed the door and entered. In this store it was impossible not to stare. From the very first window counter, I grabbed gloves. They were wonderful. She stood in front of a showcase with jewelry.
Went through a coat hanger with clothes. And only then I remembered the saleswoman. She was standing in the far corner, behind the cash register, talking animatedly about something with a girl with a child. I did not even notice how the girl entered. Because she entered through the back door - like all normal people in this town. The back doors are in shops, restaurants, banks. Because behind them - parking, which stretches parallel to the entire front of Seventh Street.
I stopped under the nose of the girl and the saleswoman - to pull the rings. They greeted, smiled, asked how my day was. I climbed into the box with slippers. It was a store where I liked everything. I spent there at least half an hour.
Behind the cabinet of the locker, I saw a brooch. I called the hostess:
- Can I see?
“What are you asking,” she laughed, “it's open there!
The first time I left with gloves. A week later, she came back again and bought slippers and a ring. The hostess greeted me like an old friend. Sit me in the fitting room to measure sneakers.
Wrapped shopping in a wonderful crispy paper, praised my English, the weather, my bag. And she nodded easily to me: “See you!”.
In this store, inexplicably pulled to buy. For some reason, it seemed to me that the little things from this store would bring me luck.

Point five. Memory
“In all these towns and in hundreds of others not named here, on the main square there are monuments to a soldier of the civil war between the North and the South. These are very meek monuments, small in stature and not at all warlike. Somewhere in old Europe, a bronze or stone warrior necessarily brandishes a saber or rushes on a desperate horse and in any case shouts out something like: "Forward, miraculous heroes!" But the monuments of American towns are completely devoid of inspiration. "© In our town there are seven monuments - in a small park in front of the Seventh, opposite the railway station.
Here is the story of all locally significant wars, except that minus North and South. World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
First World, Korean.
The names of the villagers are carved on the monuments. On "Iraq and Afghanistan" - one. The Second World War has a huge list. The entire dark stone in the middle of the composition is dotted with names. Can't understand if so many villagers took part in the war?
Point six. House
"Residenzhel-part", the residential part of the city, is already completely deserted. The silence is broken only by the rustle of the tires of passing cars. Men work in their "business center", housewives do the cleaning. Vacuum cleaners hiss in one-story or two-story houses, furniture moves, the golden frames of photographs are wiped off ...
Houses with courtyards, where there is always a light boardwalk garage that cannot be locked with a key, are never separated by fences from each other. A strip of cement leads from the door of the house to the sidewalk. A thick layer of fallen leaves lies on the squares of the lawns. Neat houses shine in the light of the autumn sun. ”©
I rounded the railway station and found myself in a residential part of the town. The bright winter sun shone, in some places a thick layer of fallen leaves lay on the sidewalk, there was silence. No movement around, only cars rush occasionally: shur-shur. I did not flinch at the sound of the engine, but calmly went forward.
I remember walking down the street in another small town a week after I moved into my first American home. I quickly walked along the sidewalk to the intersection, jerked forward, then changed my mind and turned sharply to the left. The devil will break his leg in these identical streets. A car braked to the left with a squeal. The dark-skinned driver began to lower the window. I shrank. "It will fly in now," I thought.
“Sorry ma'am,” he said to me, “I thought you were going straight, so I didn’t slow down in advance.
This time I went to church."There are several churches in the city — Methodist, Congregational, Baptist.". ©
In this town I found one, but which one. She beckoned me from afar - a black gothic hulk in the middle of a rare and extensive park.
The church did not have a soul. Only squirrels rummaged in the leaves in the rays of the setting cold sun.
I walked around the church in a circle. She frightened, fascinated, pulled. Ugly stone faces angrily looked after me.
The sun was setting, and I was planning to have time to run to another gloomy building, which literally fascinated me at first sight from the window of the train.

Point seven. Brain
“In every small town there are excellent primary and secondary school buildings. You can even consider the rule that the best building in a small town will definitely be a school building. ”© At first I took this building for school. Laconic design, huge windows, dark red brick. I do not even know how to decorate a red brick. In my opinion, it is beautiful in itself. But it turned out - the library.
I went further, turned left - to the highway - and immediately understood everything. The school reigned on the dais.

But I was attracted by another - a little further along the highway. Abandoned, scary, of course, red brick. I stood at a traffic light and eagerly drove my eyes over it. It was only 10 minutes before the train, and I still had to run to the station.
The owner said that this building appeared here at the end of the 19th century. It once housed a boys' school. I am a master at presenting all sorts of nasty things, so I, as in reality, saw echoing night corridors, classrooms with lancet windows, boys locked in ancient basements. I was just about to write this post when I saw in the feed a story about such a school for boys in England. She even looked much the same. The author (if I allow, I will put a link), according to her husband, told how "a hefty teacher hung him out of the window by his feet and promised to let go of his hands next time." I can easily imagine. Out that window on the third floor, for example, right above the tree-top.
Now the school is boarded up. The hostess said, local authorities can not understand what to do with it. Repair is expensive, and they don’t want to give it to private hands.
I wanted so much to come closer, but I had to run. Someday, another time. Perhaps I will return to this town again, eat my lunch, go to my shop, buy a fruit salad at the pharmacy. Or maybe it will just remain in my memory. A small town of one-story America.
"A month in New York brought many impressions, but the more we saw people and things, the less we understood America."© Would you like to live in such a town?

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