Carnes: What is wrong with (y)our country?
Everywhere I go right now, as soon as someone “discovers” I am American (evidently I have an accent), the first question they ask is, “What is wrong with your country?”
The question varies from person to person and from country to country, and of course foreign expletives are almost always part of the equation, but I cannot print them here (much less pronounce them properly) without embarrassing myself even further than I already have by pre-empting their question with my own each time asking, “What’s your favorite beer here?”
London, Barcelona, Paris and Copenhagen — my question has to be asked differently each time (duh), yet it was always ignored as the damn foreigners wanted me to answer THEIR question first, which seemed so selfish to me.
But then I remembered “I” was the damn foreigner, so …
I shrugged a lot in response, never really sure if an actual verbal response about our country’s questionable leadership was going to provide what they wanted to hear, or if a sheepish apology attempt would suffice until I could at least be served my first cold brew each moderately warm afternoon.
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To be perfectly honest (and to make a few of you stop screaming at the paper), I never once apologized, as although I am certainly embarrassed from time to time (OK, daily) concerning the childish antics of our current obfuscator-in-chief, I could school every one of them for hours on end as to why the United States is still the envy of the world in just about every category that matters (those immediately pointing out one biased poll or another produced by a travel magazine or some click-bait-laced online site claiming “Moscow #1 for Retirees!” or some such nonsense have already missed the point, so please turn the page already).
As I’m sure most of you can guess, I did my best to deflect from having a futile debate while on holiday, instead choosing to entertain our youngest as he revisits places he has been fortunate to see before but is only now old enough to finally remember with any clarity.
And besides, toasting a beer at the Eiffel Tower seems more appropriate with a 20-year-old man than a 10-year-old child (not to mention the potential legal issues).
So yeah, while you guys have been singing the chorus to “Blizzards in May,” we have been busy sampling lagers in London, blondes in Barcelona, pales in Paris and Carlsbergs in Copenhagen.
You can hate me later.
But it hasn’t all been father and son drinking together legally for the first time. Mom is with us too, so we’ve done museums, palaces, all sorts of tourist destinations, visited family and friends (mom is Danish) and stood uncomfortably outside more gift shops and clothing stores than there are beautiful women in Paris.
That’s according to the 20-year-old, by the way, as I only notice striking architecture and political posters touting local housing issues.
Anyway, the bottom line is there are no issues in democratic capitalistic America that can’t be found ten-fold in each of these more socialist-leaning nations.
London is dealing with Brexit, Barcelona wants to secede from Spain, Paris has riots every Saturday (imagine violent protests on Bridge Street every Saturday since January) and Copenhagen, well, the Danes are indeed happy, but it rains all the time.
Even with May snow, ain’t no place like home.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.