Saturday, September 1, 2007

We Now Return to our Regularly Scheduled Rant

As sadness moves over enough to allow room for other emotions, and we once again thank everyone who showed us such great kindness and empathy, a bit of normalcy begins to return. We start to welcome happy memories, a bit of laughter, and, perhaps most normal of all, the need for a rant.
 
As I write this, one of my sons is in Germany on a school band trip that brings high school musicians from several countries together for nine days of friendship, cooperation and shared education, after which time they will go back to their respective countries and think of each other as unsophisticated savages again. It's a long way from Berlin to New Jersey. ("Mister Governor...tear down that turnpike rest stop!")
 
We sent him off prepared, of course. American dollars for use stateside, Euros for once he's in Germany, or if he lands on Boardwalk or Park Place along the way and needs to pay rent. A voltage converter to avoid a life threatening emergency should his Ipod run out of power. Dramamine and, of course, hair gel.
 
Most interesting to me is this, which was in the handout material given to the students: "You may meet, and most certainly will interact with people who have never met Americans. We would like to leave a good impression that will be a lasting positive experience in our partners' minds. Stereotypes exist of Americans too. Do you fit them? We are all pushy, self-centered and rude. We are uneducated and indifferent about the rest of the world. We only eat fast food. We all own guns. We're all a bunch of cowboys."
 
To the rest of the world we're one giant Jack Black movie.
 
Pushy, self-centered and rude? That's ridiculous. I am not pushy. And guns...I'm sure they know the only one that might get past the airport's metal detectors is that plastic gun. The Glock. And which one of us invented that one, Johann? (Maybe someone can do something really useful for airline passengers and use some of that Glock-plastic to make a nail clipper.)
 
As for being indifferent about the rest of the world, I think I can clear that up. That's just Democrats. Republicans care about other countries so much they send in troops to be greeted as liberators. That balances, doesn't it?
 
Fast food...um, well...let's go on to the next point...
 
It's not true that all Americans are cowboys, of course, but it never hurt Clint Eastwood and I always thought Gary Cooper was very cool. Maybe we should think about it.
 
I hope I've been able to dispel some of these American stereotypes for my overseas readers and foster an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect. I'd write more, but I have to finish my Big Mac and supersized chocolate shake, load up my six-shooter and ride into town for the hanging. And if anyone thinks that's bad manners, hey, I got your manners, right here.   

6 comments:

gazker said...

Most other countries think that Americans are overwight too, but we'll skip that along with the fast food! ;-)
Gaz

oldhousegal said...

Clearly you haven't seen any recent presidential speeches.  I rest my case.

faveanti said...

Hi Ben, Angie here!  I gave up pigeon-holing nationalities (I'm English by the way, in case it matters!) after a German woman teacher came to live with us for a school year as a lodger while she was a foreign language assistant.  We all know how arrogant Germans are - don't we?  We have been the closest of friends now for 25 years and visit her often.  I never met an arrogant German yet, though they can come over that way if they don't know English very well.  Direct translation from German isn't always as polite as we would like!
love, Angie, xx
p.s. - Europeans apparently associate us English with lawn mowing, cleaning our own cars, wearing bowler hats (derbys) and smoking pipes!!  Shut up Ang, you could have blogged all this!

astaryth said...

One of the advantages of working in an entertainment industry is that you get to meet all kinds of people. Then, going to work for a large circus I was exposed to a lot of people from a lot of different places. You could actually, as an American, find yourself in the minority during different times. I found that basically all people are the same. We all want to be happy, take care of the people we love, and do work that we enjoy.... I actually came to have several friends who became friends with sign language before we learned enough words of each others languages to communicate!

I hope your son has a wonderful time!

vkmay said...

now hold on a minute there, partner...you mean we're not alone on the planet?  And self centered, I don't know about that one, ooh, wait, my comfort range has been disturbed by this double Whopper I've got on my lap...feels alittle warm in here...lemme push that A/C down to 65 and put on some socks, cause my feet might get chilly...  

demandnlilchit said...

You forgot about John Wayne......pfffft! The ultimate cowboy! lol