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So what is a newyorksubalien...

I’m a New York subalien. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly legal – it’s just my loving other half, official alien that he is, comes with a so-called “supermodel” visa that apparently denotes him as one possessing extraordinary abilities (falling asleep within 5 minutes of sitting down in front of the TV, remembering only 2 of the 3 items on a mental shopping list and not knowing where the dishwasher tablets live after 2 years in our apartment are just some of his many talents).

The same visa leaves me extraordinarily unable to possess that most American of entities - a “social” i.e. a Social Security Number. Calling it a “social” makes it sound like the password to some party-filled, fun-packed lifestyle. That’s not far wrong as without these all-important 9 numbers, you pretty much can’t have a lifestyle at all - no bank account, no credit card, not even a driver’s license.

So what does a subalien do? Well, like over sub life forms waiting for evolution to give them a leg up on the ladder of existence, I have plenty of time to observe and these, dear reader, are my observations…..

Friday, February 18, 2011

Measuring up in Planet Big Apple and being cut down to size

We’ve had an Irish Winter this week in Big Apple - or at least that’s what I’m calling the inverse of an Indian Summer, especially given how I’ve already mentioned we come to each of our new planets bearing gifts of EWP (Extreme Weather Phenomena).

After the snow, the ice storms, the bitterly cold temperatures, we are currently basking in highs of 16 degrees Centigrade or as they would put it over here, around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I should actually call it an Irish Summer as with these temperatures, many of the inhabitants of the little Green Island would be out in shorts and T-shirts.

The Fahrenheit as opposed to Celsius thing isn’t really too much of an issue as basically we’ve found Big Apple seems to have two seasons – very cold and very hot. When skiing, we’ve even known the two measuring systems virtually to merge and when it’s that cold, you don’t worry whether it’s minus 32 Celsius or minus 25 Fahrenheit, you just know you’re minus - usually your toes, fingers and the end of your nose.

But metric child that I am, I do struggle with the old (to us) system of pounds, ounces, feet and inches. I've recently discovered that what looks like the Imperial system is actually called the U.S. Customary system here - virtually identical but evidently more democratic without being demi-metric.

This causes me most grief when being asked weight and height of Male Mini-me and Mini-Mum at their annual check-ups. Apart from the fact that Male Mini-me in particular seems to bean-sprout up some colossal amount each year, I feel such a pathetic mother that I can’t reel off the data without blinking – or resorting to a calculator. And when weight-wise everything is in pounds (as in hundreds of pounds as opposed to stone and pounds), it doesn’t exactly boost the ego.

I still prefer to be imperialized when it comes to the kitchen but there we have another great American tradition – the cup. If you’re like me, you have many cups in your cupboard but they do tend to vary in size. After several culinary disasters, I’ve given in and bought one of those marvellous sets that allow me to measure perfectly my half-cups and third-cups but I still can’t bring myself to use them when adding the cooking wine – where’s the fun in that! Irish measures rule there.

Where we European femaliens love Planet Big Apple is when it comes to clothing as we all go down a size – or two. Much is made about Size Zero but from one make to another, the smaller sizes seem to cover a lot of ground – and a lot more girl than you might think. For the more mature figure, you don’t even have to think numbers – just kisses. “Woman’s sizes” as they are called here are very simple – 1X, 2X or 3X and every designer brand from Ralph Lauren to Calvin Klein has its own woman’s section.

Different dress sizes I get as to me there is no doubt different nationalities have different body shapes. In another existence as a journalist in Rio, one of my favourite stories was about trying to buy a Brazilian bikini in an European body. The Northern/Southern hemisphere reverse also applies to the female silhouette, if you see what I mean. But shoe sizes? Why does crossing a stretch of water mean that my feet swell up 2-1/2 sizes. I know they do swell up during the flight but not permanently.

So here we are, supposedly bigger of feet, smaller of body, buying half gallons of milk and weighing hundreds of pounds.  And this just because we flew over 3,000 miles – at least we agree on that one! 

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