Not all Americans ride horses - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

January 21, 2014

Not all Americans ride horses

WELL, to my surprise and no doubt to that of America itself, I have my visa. I went to the consulate in Paris, the building next to the embassy. And obviously things have changed since my last visit because, instead of simply walking to the end of the driveway and explaining my arrival, I had to walk along the side of the embassy to the road that ran in front, cross that, go into the gardens on the other side, walk between the bushes the length of the embassy and then cross back over to get to the consulate.

The barricades, with just this one break, ran as far as I cared to look. There were policemen and soldiers everywhere. There were more outside the American embassy than there were at the French government ministries nearby. America is obviously worried about something, or France is worried on America's behalf.

Anyway, I got inside and had my preliminary interview, and then I sat under the Mona Lisa gaze of Barack Obama (who a caption helpfully explained was The President of the United States), then got up and walked to another ticket office for my more formal interview.

Between the two, I had the treat of listening to a man shouting: "I used to be an American citizen and I paid a lodda taxes and you guys are always right and I'm always wrong." I imagined he was stamping his foot and jabbing his finger. His reasoning was uncertain but the anger wasn't, although I never found out what had upset him. Barack Obama just looked on with that same smile, unmoved by this man who used to be an American citizen and paid a lodda taxes.

The woman who interviewed me was in her mid-30s and from Arizona. She couldn't ride a horse. I know that because I asked her. We got on immediately because I'd never sat on a horse, either. She reminded me that not everyone in Arizona rides a horse. I was on the verge of replying that not everyone in France eats them, either, but the time had come to be serious.

And so I said what I planned to do and she asked which route I'd take, all very conversationally as though she wondered if I was going to be in the vicinity of any of her relatives but all the time listening to see if my story was consistent.

"And that will take three months, will it?", she said.

I pointed out that at my age it risked taking very much longer. She smiled, wished me luck, pushed a button on her computer and said I could expect my passport in the mail.

I was actually rather disappointed that the experience was over. I'd learned something. I'd met an American who couldn't ride a horse. And there I was thinking that they learned that at school.

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