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.