This is not merely a transparent attempt to get Batty to move to America (and carry me around). My transparent attempts to get Batty to move to America usually take the form of me saying, "You should move to America." And by America, I mean New York, or as I like to call it, "Europe Lite."
Have you ever done squats? Rather, have you ever been fat and done squats? You feel fine until you wake up the next day; then you feel as if your legs have been turned inside out, like Dr. Brundle's early teleportation experiments, and reattached to you. But that did not stop me today from assembling the secondhand IKEA shelf I bought and lugged home and primed and painted a wonderful juicy limey green all by myself. You must understand that home improvement projects are not part of what my therapist calls my "family culture," and that I'm quite proud of this relatively humble accomplishment. My family culture is one you can get a sense for by listening to Rodney Dangerfield routines, particularly the one called "Handy Husbands." It's about how there are two kinds of husbands in the world, handy husbands and Jewish husbands. With a Jewish husband, changing a lightbulb is the most you can expect in the way of home improvement. "STAND BACK, MABEL, IT'S A SIXTY-WATTER!"
In fairness I learned about this routine from my parents, who may not be able to nail two boards together, but who are self-aware about it. The theoretical gentile husband in "Handy Husbands" is Cliff, who "built the patio," and throughout my childhood Cliff-who-built-the-patio was evoked as an avatar of this particular type of worldly achievement. I'm not on Cliff's level, but I felt quite competent choosing a color at Home Depot's paint department and asking for a quart of it in eggshell finish and could you tint this primer for me? It improves hiding, I read that on the side of the can.
I'm going to try to keep this in mind on Wednesday morning when I'll be flying with my parents to California for Thanksgiving, which means security theater anxiety. As always now when I fly, I am afraid that they'll try to bully me into the backscatter machine. And I mean really afraid, you guys, this yanks on something inside me. Maybe it will help to remember that I'm Cliff who built the patio and no one can push me around.