Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Weird America

By now I suppose it's no secret that I'm an unabashed Western Civilization loyalist and do not regard the label "American" conjoined with "patriot" as a disgrace. I've written about criticism of America and Americans that I think is dumb, but there are things you can say about America that are not so stupid.

Here http://www.commondreams.org/views06/1013-31.htm you can find a view of America from a European viewpoint. Full disclosure, my wife and I know and like Brigitte Schön, my wife laughed her ass off and said, "I agree with everything she says!" Birgitte asks some embarrassing questions about Americans, such as:

"What is wrong about natural air in a home?

"What strikes every European in a mostly negative way is the constant and ubiquitous use of air conditioning in America. The outside temperature has become completely irrelevant for the use of AC, it seems. It is simply used ALL THE TIME.

"This leads to highly irritating situations. I have to take along a jacket or a sweater when going to restaurants or the movies in places where the outside temperature is 100° and more in order to avoid a cold."

"What's wrong about being in touch with nature?

"America has a spectacular nature, and lots of it, since it is – by the standards of the rest of the world – sparsely populated, with the exception of the coasts. It is sad to watch how little Americans seem to want to have any interaction with this great wealth."

My wife just woke up and I had to break the news to her that the University housing administration left a notice that they are going to cut down some of the lovely tall cedar trees around our apartment. Apparently they've been identified as a "potential fire hazard" and dare I guess that it's a liability issue?

"Oh darn it, what an American thing to do!" she exclaimed indignantly.

Showing my wife and family around this country has made me see it with new eyes. I'd heard about the controversy over SUVs. We both think they're pretty cool ourselves. "But," Monika asked. "why is every one we see spotlessly clean? I thought they were supposed to be for off-road? And why is it that every time I see one, the driver is talking on his or her cell phone?" I dunno, beats me.

Then there was the time in Wall-Mart around Halloween when we passed a woman with a boy. The boy was asking why they couldn't have Halloween and the mother shouted, "Cause that's the DEVIL'S holiday!" She still repeats that and cracks up from time to time.


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