While in D.C. I strolled by the White House. My first reaction, upon seeing it, was “that’s a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be”.
My second reaction was “What are you, nuts?” Because, in truth, the White House is huge for a residence, and it must have been considered even more so when it was (re)built in 1901. But, I dunno — somehow I expected something that, in typical American fashion, would be Completely Over-The-Top Huge, like the Mall of America, or the Cadillac Escalade or, according to obesity statistics, the average American himself.
As I returned to my hotel, I wondered what it was about American society that conditioned me to expect Bigger! Bigger! Bigger to the point where finding the White House to be just Moderately Huge was a disappointment.
Half an hour later I was sitting in my room, watching a press conference in which the skyscraper selected to replace the World Trade Center was unveiled. During the sppech by the architect, the CNN newscasters kept breaking in, breathlessly reminding viewers that the proposed edifice would “be the tallest building in the world”.