Monday, 22 June 2009

American question of the week

Before I get on to my latest question about America, readers of the last post might be interested to know that I have now established that I CAN get a permit to work, AND a social security number. Although it might take months and months to come. But there is light at the end of the legal alien tunnel. In other news, The Doctor took the theory part of the driving test, and passed with 100%. Half the questions were related to drink-driving and the others involved recognising road signs such as 'Stop'. I'm glad they ask people to recognise that one.

Now, onto more pressing matters. My question this week concerns basketball hoops....

1) Why do so many American homes have a basketball hoop in the yard? I mean, it's not just the odd one. It's as if you were driving along the road in Britain and every garden had a soccer goal in it, or a cricket pitch. It's just SO ubiquitous I have to ask. And in the spirit of the driving test, I'm going to allow a multiple choice answer.

Is it

a) Because all Americans love basketball, simple as that?
b) A sort of middle class emblem; a sign that you are a normal family with some kids, 2 and a half cars, and a big enough house to erect a basketball hoop outside?
c) Because people put them up in the hope that their sons will grow to be 6ft professional basketball players?
d) A discreet sign that you are a member of some kind of cult? (a bit like Pampas grass in a front garden is supposed to signify that people are swingers. According to my friend Peter, that is).
e) None of the above?

Answers from non-Americans and non-expats also welcome.....

18 comments:

Dumdad said...

a)

Potty Mummy said...

Oooh! At last! Another person who knows the pampas grass theory!!! (I don't personally, you understand, but my sister is very suspicious of people with their front windows obscured by the stuff...)

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Note to self - must get rid of pampas grass

mothership said...

F. All of the above!!!
It is the centerpiece for the shrine at which you worship the American God of suburbia. In order to be part of the church you need the holy trinity: SUV, basketball hoop and power hose.
The cult is the "Hey neighbour, have a nice day!" one and they are COMING TO GET YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN
but actually it's quite nice..

Millennium Housewife said...

Just spent a happy hour catching up with you, hope all's going well MH

Iota said...

It's definitely B.

BUT having said that, there is nothing to beat it, when your two boys come home from school, and head straight out to shoot baskets (is it shooting baskets, or shooting hoops? I can't remember), and play happily for up to an hour without bickering, come in tired and happy, and have expended much more energy than the winter alternative (slumping in front of Spongebob). So don't knock it - although you'll have to wait a few years to reap the benefits with the Littleboys.

Actually, we are in the ideal situation. Our neighbours have a hoop which they invited us to use whenever we like. Their kids hardly ever use it. So we've never even had to purchase one (and they're expensive). We've only had to replace a broken plant pot and plants.

Great news on the potential work visa.

Home Office Mum said...

I've decided that I have to stop reading your blog because it just makes me so jealous every time I do that I get maudlin for the rest of the day.

Incidentally, I also think it's B. And the reason there isn't the equivalent in the UK is that a) football isn't typically a middle class sport and therefore is something to be hidden rather than flouted b) rugby and cricket are far harder to play on your own whereas shooting hoops you can and c) Americans always do everything to the max. Which is why everyone has them, unlike the brits who just don't apply themselves to a cause with the same intensity. Hence the failings of the English cricket team

A Modern Mother said...

I guess the equilavent here is three kids, a Volvo, and a NHS Trust membership...

We had a basketball hoop growing up and my parents put it up after growing tired of constantly being pestered by my older brothers...

Mud in the City said...

Pampas grass? Really?? Must nip out and get some for my hanging baskets....

nappy valley girl said...

Dumdad - you're probably right. I know nothing about basketball apart from a cartoon of the Harlem Globetrotters that I used to watch as a child. And OJ. Which is not a lot.

PM - aha, now that is interesting. I believe your sister lives in the West Country? And the friend who told me about this also lives down there. So maybe it is a West Country thing?

CTTF - oh, but could it not make live more interesting?

Mothership - not forgetting the Weber barbecue, of course. Well, we have none of the three. Better put up a hoop and start practicing my netball skills!

MH - is that a happy hour catching up? Or a Happy Hour, catching up, while drinking cocktails? Hope it was the latter - sounds fun.

Iota - of course. And I'm all for it, actually. I love the way American kids all play out in the street when the weather is warm. You just don't get that in middle-class London. Your situation sounds great - our neighbours have a swingset, and I'm hoping they might make a similar offer for the LIttleboys....

Home Office Mum - what do you mean, jealous? Aren't you about to sail off on a huge adventure yourself? Sure you're right about sport. Brits are far too reserved to get really passionate about it.

A Modern Mother - Well, I had an NHS Trust membership in London, but I resigned it on moving abroad. Is this a huge mistake? I don't have the Volvo or 3 kids...

Mud - I'm sure it will go down a treat in Fulham.....

Nota Bene said...

Oy! My mum used to have pampas grass in her garden. Admittedly, back garden. But still oy! You'd be surprised how many houses in Essex have a basketball hoop too. I think it's a secret sign that they're communists from Iran

melanie@oxleywilson.com said...

Dearest NVG, I have missed you. Haven't been reading due to so-to-be-married hell. Anyway..

The answer is, in varying degrees, all of the above. Now I'm about to get a little politically incorrect here so y'all hold on tight.

The basketball hoop represents many things to the average American. Along with baseball and "football" it's THEIR thing. No other country has love or skill in these games like the Americans. Yes the Japanese play baseball, and Russian and Chinese players are drafted to American basketball teams, but note that the World Series does not include any other country. Nothing quite says American like these three sports.

A basketball hoop provides the hard-working American dad the opportunity to spend some quality time with his kids (usual sons) without too much time and effort. 15-20 minutes before dinner or on a Saturday morning will do. And when he's not around, "shooting some hoops" as they call it, keeps the kids out of the house so mom can either do the "housekeeping" or canoodle with the hot next door neighbour. yes, I watch way too much Desperate Housewives.

Now for the un-PC. For the average white middle-class, having a basketball hope represents a lovely dream that will never be had; they wanna be Like Mike. Michael Jordan that is. Never gonna happen but when that middle-aged dad with the belly catches some air, he is MJ. Live the dream pops, live the dream!

Suburban Americans are a cult whose members have no idea they've joined. It's harmless really but a cult nonetheless. It includes: The Pampas complete with hedgerows and state-of-the-art mowers; Billy the Paperboy; Main Street; big ass BBQ which is owned, cared for and defended by The Husband (if it's a black party the local Alpha Male will be in charge), ownership of an SUV, homecoming and prom queen/king. There's more but you get the picture.

Now all these things, may seem amusing and a bit cookie-cutter to us "ferringers", but, and I say this grudgingly, it's a nice way to grow up. It most of these communities neighbours do look out for and support each other.

Long live the basketball hoop. :-)

melanie@oxleywilson.com said...

Sorry, when I said "black party" I meant block party. My bad for not spell checking before hitting that submit button. Sorry!

Expat mum said...

Definitely a suburban thing though. Here in the city, there are quite a few hoops on garages in alleys. Unfortunately, since I live in an historically protected area (sigh) they have left our alley with the "original cobblestones". This not only means that the whole alley floods every time it rains, and becomes an ice rink in the winter, but if you attempted to jump for a basketball you'd break every bone in your feet on landing. Pah! It really does keep the kids occupied though!

nappy valley girl said...

NB - back garden is OK I believe....basketball hoops in Essex? Don't they all want to be the next Beckham?

Melanie - hi, and welcome back. Exciting to hear of your nuptials - when's the big day? I agree with you about the community thing. Although I am laughing at it, I think growing up in American suburbia is probably pretty nice. Am just reading Bill Bryson ' The life and times of the thunderbolt kid' about his childhood in the 50s in Iowa, which I would recommend.

Expat Mum - yup, I didn't see many hoops back in Brooklyn. Your alley sounds fun - surely most Americans would kill for 'original cobblestones'?

"Moaning Mum" said...

the answer is a resounding B! you clever girl...you've cottoned on very quickly :)

2 Brits, 2 Yanks, 2 Dogs said...

Over from expatmum.com - moved to California from the UK, 10 years ago. I think the answer to the basketball hoop question is - you have to be a member of the cult.

This was pretty funny - for some reason I never really thought about the millions of basketball hoops but you are definitely right, they are everywhere.

Anonymous said...

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