Today is a day to sit back and recall the many absurd things that have happened in our lives or things that are still happening each day. It’s also a day to actually add to this list by doing something completely ridiculous and random that you’ve always wanted to try. For example, I have been harboring a strange desire to doodlewash a flying pig, so this was a good day for that.
Sometimes it’s rather difficult to determine what’s actually absurd. It really depends on who you are and where you are. I’ve mentioned before Philippe’s shock at discovering some of America’s habits, but these aren’t considered absurd, just part of living in this country. So if you’re American, and stumped on how to celebrate this one, it’s equally likely that to someone in another country thinks you’re already doing it.
When Philippe was first visiting from Paris, I took him out to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. I thought it would be fine as it was actual Mexican food, not the horrible Tex-Mex version which is really just a game of “food hide-and-seek” in a pool of orange cheese. Unfortunately, the restaurant had decided to serve it with American-sized portions and Philippe ate the entire thing out of habit. The remainder of the evening was spent with him clutching his stomach in pain and taking short breaths as though he were about to deliver our first child.
Beyond the absurdity of portion size in American meals, there’s often the complete lack of vegetables or any meaningful fiber, which always leads Philippe to ask, “How do Americans poop?” It never occurred to me anymore since I mostly eat vegetables now, but this was a very good question. I watch people out eating, as every green thing on a plate is pushed to the side and treated as garnish, and have to wonder the very same thing.
When we first went out driving here, Philippe would ask about all the American flags. I’m so used to seeing them that I’ve totally blocked them out, but he was confused as to why people had them everywhere. “I don’t understand,” he said, “yeah, we’re in America, we get it!” as a too big to be driven in the city truck burped past us with flags flapping on each side. “They’re just proud of this country,” I said as a man wearing a coat that looked like a flag walked by. And that’s when I realized it was actually absurd.
Everything from weather to cooking was made needlessly complex for Philippe because America is one of the only countries in the world not using the metric system (the only other two are Burma and Liberia). “It says a heaping cup,” Philippe remarked while cooking, “what the hell is a cup? Which cup? Heaping?” I pointed him to the measuring cups and he said, “C’est pas vrai! That’s so stupid and imprecise! Why don’t they just measure in handfuls or fingernails?” The next day we bought a scale that measured in grams.
But the absurdity didn’t stop in the kitchen, of course. I was questioned as to “whose feet” one uses to determine distance. This is a bit embarrassing as feet and pounds are things that were necessary in the old days when people didn’t know any better, much like The Electoral College. To still be using these antiquated systems today, just makes us seem well… rather absurd (though Fahrenheit is still twice as precise as Celsius when setting your air conditioning so there’s a tiny something we got right!).
America is already an absurd place, so maybe that’s why so many people like it. We’re not weighted down with horrible logic, we just live happily inside our absurdity bubble assuming everyone else must be wrong. So today, add a heaping cup of absurdity to whatever it is you plan to do and have a ridiculously good time!
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!