I have a pet peeve about some Americans abroad. I will admit that I am also guilty of this annoying habit so this is really a post to myself. Americans in Paris want to be accepted by the Parisians. We all understand this need to be loved; maybe Americans have this need more than other as I have heard suggested- I don’t know. The next time you are in Paris watch an expat or a tourist when they are first introduced to a Parisian. The conversation will begin politely enough- general conversation- “I love your city!”- “Wow, that is some tower you got there” “Is it true that there is a place in France where the ladies wear no pants?” You know, the usual icebreakers. As soon as there is a lull in the conversation watch the American. He begins to twitch and get excited. He wants to say something but he doesn’t know if it’s too soon. He’s trying to hold back the comment but he can’t. He’s going to burst- he must say it…. can’t….hold….out…much…longer…
“I didn’t vote for Bush!”
It spews from his mouth like projectile vomit splattering everyone within earshot.
Unable to restrain the flood the American will go on and on about how he doesn’t like Bush he doesn’t know anyone that voted for Bush, certainly none of his friends- the election was rigged. He will then roll into American racism, slavery, and freedom fries. He will have a new thought that politician's extra-marital affairs should not only be ignored but encouraged*. As the American discusses these woes they will laugh- a short “please love me” laugh. “American’s are so stupid. ha ha ha Aren’t they? ha ha ha”
It’s painful to witness. I cringe when I hear this- I cringe even more when I’m guilty of it. We can pretend that we are discussing politics but I think all we are trying to do is convince a complete stranger that we aren’t like all those “other” redneck, provincial Americans who don’t know diddly about squat. It’s a rather pathetic attempt to fit in. We assume that the Frenchman hates America or Bush and that they devote most of their day to thinking about this hatred. Essentially we are buying into a stereotype so that we wont be stereotyped by a person that may or may not stereotype Americans in that way. I can’t say that I am a particularly good or proud American but Jesus have a little loyalty for your homeland- don’t be so quick to sell out your country and perpetuate stereotypes so that you can be liked by a guy that probably supported Sarkosy.
*My thought regarding politicians that cheat on their spouses- If a person cheats on their spouse with whom they love and have made a solemn vow how long will it take before they screw over a complete stranger (you)- other than that I don't really need to know about who's sleeping with whom.