The Pain in Spain, Vol. 4: Graduation, Americanization and stuff to impress your friends
Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a four-part series in which your beloved Uncle Randy Wyrick wanders around Spain searching for the positive influence Americans have been. Really, we have!
The British person next to me threw up just a little in the back of this throat, which was hilarious.
Universidad de Alcala — the University of Alcala, in Madrid, Spain — was founded in 1497, not long after Columbus crossed the ocean blue, which is why when the university president says he loves America and Americans, you can trust him.
(Quick note about Columbus: The statue of him in Barcelona is facing away from America, not toward it. The Spaniards, it turns out, did not need me to point this out to them.)
The University of Alcala features Fulbright Scholars of all your major genders, as well as a bunch of minor genders, because … Europe.
We were in Spain for my daughter’s graduation, who, at 24, is still the world’s most perfect child. The university president stood in front of a room packed with bright young people being presented their master’s degrees in international education — teaching Spanish to English kids and English to Spanish kids. Parents like me beamed at our progeny.
The president told the crowd in a clear and steady voice, in perfect English, that American English is the world’s first language.
The Brit next to me coughed his coffee into his lap.
The president, a wise man whose wonderfulness knows no bounds, went on to say that they want 50 percent of their students to be bilingual and bicultural.
“You have pride in your flag and your anthem. We should be like you. I have envy,” he told the crowd, as the Brit choked some more.
The president was unabashed about his intentions: plant Americans in Spain. Some will stay, some won’t, he said.
The way the president figures it, the more they’re like America, the more successful Spain will be, except that Spain’s history stretches back further than the last commercial break.
The Brit threw up in the back of his throat a little more.
The last time I was in England, I was wandering around London looking for a pub because my wife let me off the leash for a while, and I was gravitating toward my natural habitat. Resplendent in my custom-made ostrich skin cowboy boots, a cowboy riding coat and cowboy hat, I wandered into a pub that’s supposed to be 1,500 years old. Some of the original patrons appeared to still be on the barstools.
One of the women looked at me and sneered, “Not too American.”
“I said, ‘Madam, you cannot be too American.’”
And with that I bought her and her friends a pint.
And microaggressions for all
At the University of Alcala’s graduation and Americanization ceremony, they even gave a Daughters of the American Revolution award. The otherwise bright young woman who won it talked about inclusion and window books and how they tend to give kids a look only at traditional families and should look at other kinds of families, which is fine, because we have those.
But then she mentioned how kids from those other families might feel bad when they look at books about traditional families and how that’s a microaggession. Book publishers, she said, should publish books that feature something other than traditional families.
The microaggression is one of those PC concoctions should have been murdered at birth, clubbed in the head like a baby seal.
But it’s out there now, living in the DNA of the professionally aggrieved.
What no one told Ms. D.A.R. is that book publishing is an industry. If you want to change it, then you have to create a market.
In other words, if you want books featuring other kinds of families, then buy books with other kinds of families in them.
Speaking of Education
Game Lab 2015 in Barcelona was a convention of gamers, video game developers and marketers, all dressed down for each other, sort of a fashion week for slackers — or what looked like slackers, but weren’t.
See that guy on one of the panels wearing torn jeans, Converse All-Stars and a bright red Angry Birds hoodie? He invented Angry Birds. He’s here to answer your questions.
And you may not believe this, but those questions were asked in actual spoken language. So you now know they’re capable of it.
Wander through the demonstration room, and games would let you do stuff like shoot Picachu out of a cannon, which was pretty cool, because Picachu is a microaggression.
Stuff to impress your friends
In Spain, electrical outlets look like a cobra bite.
Storks live only in southern Spain. When your little kids ask where babies come from, tell them “Spain!”
Temperatures are measured in Celsius. I was chatting with a NASA engineer who taught me how to easily convert Celsius to Fahrenheit. I figured how hot 41 degrees Celsius is. As a word guy, I could have just told him, “Really freakin’ hot!”
The Spanish want to practice their English, which is much better than your Spanish.
So far, no one has taught them to look in the mirror, pound their chests and exclaim, “You good lookin’ son of a gun. Don’t you ever die!”
I don’t speak Spanish, except for the phrase, “No me pegue, Senor Policia,” which I learned in a bar in southern Argentina, and was told it means, “Please don’t hit me Mister Policeman!”
My daughter is great at it, and that started me wondering.
Is this what it’s like for Mexican and South American visitors in Vail, who have their children do all the communicating?
I hope we’re as nice to them as the Spaniards were to me.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.