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Man of the House by Chris Erskine

That's rad, Pilgrim

Had the Mayflower landed on the West Coast, we'd be one gnarly country.

November 27, 2003|Chris Erskine

In THE HARSH AUTUMN weather, the Mayflower bobbed around like a rubber duck, without satellite navigation or even ship-to-shore radio. You think the Titanic had problems? It's a wonder the Pilgrims found America at all.

So what if, due to some historical double-reverse, the Pilgrims had landed on the West Coast instead of in stodgy, cold New England? How would Thanksgiving -- and our ever-humble little nation -- now be different? Nibble on these giblets:

-- Nevada would've been one of the 13 original Colonies.

-- Maine would've been the 50th state.

-- The landing party would've been "clothing-optional."

-- The Indian women would've arrived for the feast wearing miniskirts and Ugg boots.

-- At that first Thanksgiving, a Pilgrim dad would've begun the evening's prayer with, "Yo dudes, listen up."

-- USC would've been jokingly referred to as the "University of Spoiled Colonists."

-- At dinner, the Indians would've explained, "If you think life in Holland was hard, stay out of Hollywood."

-- You know that big boulder up in Morro Bay? Plymouth Rock.

-- Where the San Fernando Valley now is? Brooklyn.

-- The Indians would've greeted the Pilgrims bearing sunscreen and spec scripts.

-- Upon arrival, the Pilgrims would explain that they were religious zealots looking for a fresh start. The Indians would nod graciously, then make plans to move to Oregon.

-- Capt. John Smith would've been a long-boarder.

-- Miles Standish would've been known fondly as "Moondoggie."

-- Pocahontas would've been a hostess in one of the nicer Indian casinos.

-- Pilgrim elders would've sent notes back home, complaining: "You wouldn't believe California. There's no there there. And the restaurants all close before 10 p.m."

-- But Pilgrim teenagers would say: "We totally love the New World. You can ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon."

-- The Mayflower Compact would've mentioned "foreign distribution" and "points."

-- By their second year here, several of the Pilgrim moms would've had tummy tucks; two others would've had their chins done.

-- William Bradford would've run for governor of the new colony, often mentioning his immigrant background.

-- The settlers would've purchased Balboa Island for $24.

-- The Ivy League would now consist of Stanford, Berkeley, Caltech, UCLA and USC.

-- Those witch trials? In Orange County.

-- The signing of the Declaration of Independence? Bakersfield.

-- By the third year, two of the Pilgrim husbands would've run off with a couple of those Indians in the Ugg boots.

-- You'd have salmon in the oven right now, not turkey.

-- Instead of cranberry sauce? Guacamole.

-- Tonight, we'd all be eating the traditional Thanksgiving dessert -- creme brulee.

-- To raise money for the new colony, the Mayflower would have offered a three-day, two-night cruise to Ensenada.

-- In later years, Horace Greeley would've urged, "Go East, young man. Go East."

-- Instead of an eagle on the back of the U.S. quarter, there'd be a beach umbrella and hibachi.

-- New York would be a great big freeway.

-- L.A. would now be known for its great subways and far-reaching mass transit system.

-- The Statue of Liberty would be located in Newport Harbor.

-- The Louisiana Purchase would've included Atlantic City and Scranton.

-- Somewhere, the Bill of Rights would've mentioned tanning salons and implants.

-- Centuries later, people looking for a fresh start in life would be moving to Connecticut.

-- By 1680, a nice three-bedroom Pilgrim bungalow in Santa Monica would've fetched $1.2 mil.

-- To protest British policies, the colonists would've staged the San Francisco Tea Party. It would've been nonviolent.

-- The nation's capital would be located in Portland.

-- After the big Thanksgiving feast, everyone would've chilled for a while, then climbed into an Indian hot tub.

-- The War of 1812 would've lasted only six hours, halted by environmentalists filing an injunction over air quality and noise.

-- Our national anthem would now contain the phrase, "those gnarly bombs, bursting in air ... "

-- In football, run-and-gun offenses would now be known as "East Coast offenses."

-- In 1958, the O'Malley family would've moved the Dodgers from L.A. to Brooklyn.

-- The first winter, the Pilgrims would've had far more meat and grain than they could have ever eaten.

-- And a little too much wine.

-- And fresh roses on the table that they'd later fashion into gigantic parade floats for other holidays to come.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Chris Erskine can be reached at

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