Welcome to America, home of Eazy-E and the Orlando Magic. The bastard son of England, who set up America with a sweet apartment after killing off the original occupants, we now strut around like a petulant teenager, refusing to listen to reason and inviting everyone from the world over to crash over at the flophouse. We got lucky with a few chance encounters with “free” labor, and demanded our emancipation like a childhood TV star, not knowing how to deal with our newfound fame and fortune, but insisting if we get coked up and play the music loud enough no one will pay attention. 225+ years is really young in countryworld, and our geographic assets had not even been fully inventoried then. Other countries have their own languages, religions, and foods (pizza?!), they’ve been bombed to hell and back, survived crusades, NFL dynasties, and dental plagues the likes of which we’ve never seen. Well, we’ve had a few internal conflicts ourselves and made ourselves quite a comfy throne to sit on, so much so that we call the war shots now trying to defend the couch and ensure no one screws with our ability to get cheap snacks.
Americans have got to be pretty embarrassing abroad. No real effort to assimilate, accommodate, blend in, or otherwise prove inoffensive. I grimace at the thought of the millions of plates sent back to the kitchen by ugly Americans in foreign restaurants. The American palate likes fat, salt, and sweet. Oh wait, sorry, the human palate likes these things. It’s just unfortunate we have too much access to food and our portions are out of control, but just think of it as a sociological experiment in self-control. People in Iceland City in 2150 will laugh at the silly Americans who consistently ate so much they made themselves sick, assuming the obese don’t take over when organic food turns out to be the worst thing you can put in your body. Americans just don’t know how to stop, and they’re entitled to make that mistake, no matter how many airplane seats they take up or how many water park rides they get stuck in or how they’ll eventually reduce our healthcare system to fiscal insolvency. It’s like trying to stop the Dodo from going extinct. You can tell a Dodo to stop dying, but if they don’t want to listen, you can only hope they have a good time while they are here. And fat people are having the most fun of of all. Just ask.
While out for some authentic Mexican after a long bike ride in my carefree summer days, the topic of conversation turned to World War II as it so frequently does. For the life of me, and for the life of my compatriots, none of us could remember what China was doing during this whole ordeal. While barely an economic superpower (or so I think), it’s billions of people must have been affected somehow by the events transpiring in Europe. Maybe there were some rallies of Chinese students, protesting a far-off but concerning affair a world away under the guise of getting laid. Perhaps there were some public intellectuals espousing on the latest news from the newswire, while the general public goes about their daily business, under the guise of getting laid. The Chinese NPR-equivalent podcasts must’ve been saturated with musings and satire around the Third Reich, political cartoons depicting Uncle Sam as an obese man blinded from the Holocaust by hamburgers covering his eyes. So during some drunken Wikipedia-ing, I discover about 20 million Chinese died during a long skirmish with Japan, called the SECOND Sino-Japanese War (how did I miss the first?), which started before World War II proper even started. 20 million people did what I was deathly afraid of, which of course is death. 20 million people died and I didn’t even know why or how it happened.
There’s no reward or positive feedback for knowing such “trivia” if you’re in the lower 80% income bracket in the USA, and that’s only because I’m presupposing the top 20% stand around in their billiard halls with their wigs and discuss the history of the world in great detail, with playful puns and witticisms and, if damsels are present, vague but really gross innuendos. The lower 80% will do what they’ve always done which is drink, smoke, screw, and play billiards at tables rented by the game. Sometimes they bowl. They can learn for the ‘fun’ of learning, in a game of oneupmanship under the guise of getting laid, and perhaps once in a while a commoner can transpose a lesson from the Schezuan Dyansty or Mayans into the decision making processes of his or her life, which will probably only affect a handful of people anyway, who will deride and mock his esoteric and pompous way of reaching a conclusion as if the culmination of the big bang has led to his choice of pleated or non-pleated khakis (The Mayans always went pleated). As a properly trained consumerist society, history is a luxury, much the way a second language is.
A Canadian once told me the following joke: What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Triligual. What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual. What do you call someone who speaks one language? American. Hilarious, right? Well after a traditional Canadian funeral, I had a think about it. We went from a ragtag bunch of colonies to a full-blown 50 miserable states within 200 years, and now we’re the size of Europe. We were too busy kicking ass/committing genocide to come up with a new language every few hundred miles along the way. And since we just ignore the Spanish and French influences to the north and south of us, there’s no real incentive for us to learn another language. I bet more Americans know Klingon than Portuguese. And this would have happened to any ethnic group who re/de/un/colonized the Americas, so I don’t feel particularly lazy or uncultured. Languages take hundreds if not thousands of years to ‘make’, and we simplified our rapid expansion by keeping it to one. English is sexy enough, I guess and hope. Another Canadian quote I heard in an elevator put me at ease: “Only Americans and French-Canadians know what love is, and only Americans get it right.” Just kidding, that never happened. But can you imagine a world in which it did?