Come on, baby don’t you want to go

After a while, all cities in the United States begin to look like one another. Toll roads, twists of cloverleaved Interstate highways, twenty-four hour restaurants, skeins of power lines slicing a blustering gray sky. I flew into Chicago O’Hare half an hour ago. The overhead lamps in this restaurant are festooned with plastic twists of pine and red bows. A color-coordinated set of teddy bears loll on a high shelf to my right, next to a patchwork Santa with beady black eyes. To my left are four jars of syrup that look exactly like the four jars of syrup on the table next to that, and the table next to that, and so on, stretching in a complete chain of pancake restaurants, all the way to San Francisco and back again. Butter pecan, blueberry, strawberry, boysenberry. You take your choice of exactly four focus-tested, shelf-stable, can’t-go-wrong flavors. America!

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