THE BLOG
08/09/2014 08:02 am ET Updated Oct 08, 2014

When Did America Get So Weird?

After living the first six months of 2014 in Provence, France, my wife, Kathy, and I figured we'd face some minor cultural readjustments coming home to Boston. Coffee mild enough so that it didn't grow hair on my chest, for example, or showers, with four walls instead of three, that didn't bathe the entire bathroom floor.

I figured I could handle this. What I didn't expect was to feel like Rip Van Winkle, re-awakening after 20 years of sleep.

I mean, things are getting strange out there.

Some evidence:

1. We went to the movies last night. On the way, NPR told the story of a Calgary radio station (OK, it's Canada, but it's close) that's decided it will play only half of every song from now on because listening to music for three- to five-minutes is simply too long. What? "I [delete] get [delete] satisfaction?"

2. We arrived at the Woburn, Mass., cinema to find that all the seats had been ripped out and replaced by faux leather lounge chairs that allowed us to lean back with our legs stretched out. Leg room galore. The seats, however, were so far apart that it was nearly impossible to talk or, heaven forbid, hold hands. The seats also made it incredibly difficult to get up and buy $18 popcorn and $12 sodas. Seemed sort of un-American.

But these seats are Big, man. Sort of inspired me to be the first in my town to tear down a wall and double my house size. Oh, never mind. I guess I'm not the first, after all.

3. Before the movie started, one of the string of ads was promoting new digital tablets that surely would shoot the sharpest of Selfies to send to your friends. (I'd look up and smile, but I'm too busy examining my naval.)

This was in the course of just one evening. Reading the news, since my return, I've discovered the nearly impossible: Our Congress is doing less. I'm serious. What it is doing is talking non-stop about impeaching the president, whom the House, I believe, has already sued. Odd, no? Look at it this way. How many of you have sued your boss because you don't like him on Monday morning before coffee break?

There is, thank goodness, always baseball. It is summer and America's national past-time is at, um, full speed. So I turned on my super-sized entertainment center -- well, TV -- to watch last year's World Champions, the Boston Red Sox, and ...

Wait a minute. Who are these guys? They're in last place, you say? They traded 19 players last week? Today's starting pitcher just graduated from high school?

No, this really can't be 2014.