Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Ugly American gets a makeover...

According to CNN, a business group has released a list of behaviors that Americans ought to adopt when they travel abroad. It is hoped that this will help make it so we’re not seen as a nation of unrefined, boastful asses. The problem, of course, is that we are a nation of unrefined, boastful asses and, until that changes, the people who obey the list’s dictates won’t be raising our nation’s reputation so much as they’ll just be faking out the foreigners they meet. That people said, the ideas offered are pretty solid, if also so self-evident that only an American executive would need to see them in bullet-point format: “don’t talk so loud”, “don’t assume you can wear jeans to a state dinner”, “take a moment and listen to what those little crazy-talking fellas have to say”, so on and so forth. It’s a good start, I’m sure, but it doesn’t seem to go far enough. This is where I come in. Because I’m a patriotic American, dammit, I want us to be respected throughout the world. To accomplish this, I have decided to append their list with some of the items that they, whether due to diplomacy or ignorance, failed to include. Here goes:

● When demanding that your cabbie take you “where the action is”, be sure to do so in a personable and non-threatening tone of voice.

● The French probably don’t find your “surrender monkey” jokes quite as funny as those guys in your Ann Coulter book club do. And, seriously, why the hell are you even in France if you belong to an Ann Coulter book club? Wouldn’t you be happier in Kansas or Nebraska or someplace like that? Goddamn hypocrite, trips to France are wasted on your kind!

● Whatever continent you happen to find yourself in, be sure to comment often on how you’d be able to understand what everyone was saying if only they didn’t say it so quickly. And also if they didn't say it in that gibbering, incomprehensible language of theirs.

● Watch out for those brightly-colored frogs. They’re poisonous. Just touching them can bring you a lingering, agonizing death. I realize that this has nothing to do with America’s image, but it simply cannot be emphasized enough: stay away from the shiny frogs.

● Don’t immediately assume that the best thing for the country in question would be a “shock-and-awe” style American bombing invasion.

● One thing that is generally considered rude is the habit of wiping your ass with hotel washcloths. It may be far more comfortable than using the local toilet paper, but it is a burden on the cleaning staff. Interestingly, this is also true within America’s borders. Except in Texas.

● I don’t care what frat-house record you hold, that Australian guy with the grenade-pin necklace can probably drink more than you

● If the Algerian military finds you wandering through the wastes of the Sahara, you better have a good excuse ready. You should be thinking of this during the “months and months of stumbling over sand dunes” part of your vacation itinerary.

● I’m sorry for that knock on Texas earlier. That was unwarranted.

● If you are from Minnesota, for God’s sake, give the fuck up on hoping that anyone anywhere will know or care where Minnesota is. Even people from Wyoming don’t know or care where Minnesota is. The only place where Minnesota is a big deal is in Minnesota. Get used to that. Pestering the people of Suriname, Yemen or Michigan about Minnesota is like asking some goober from Thief River Falls to comment about the possibility of industrial development in east Burundi.

● You know what’s annoying? When you’re on a plane–and it doesn’t matter where you’re going, it could be from Sioux Falls to Sioux City–and the guy sitting next to you wants to “guy bond” with you so he tries to get you to debate where the most beautiful women in the world are. And, nine times out of ten, he’ll come up with some incredibly asinine place, too: like Sault St. Marie or Tulsa or Philadelphia. Not only is this an obnoxious and lame conversation to have, but these men are always all the time completely and thunderously wrong. You wanna know where the most beautiful women in the world are (besides my comment section, of course)? They’re in Istanbul. End of debate.

● Cannibalism is still legal, and widely practiced, in almost all parts of Scandinavia. Be careful out there.

● If you slip up and find yourself, despite all this advice, acting like a total raging asshole, just smile, apologize, and say “I guess that was just the Canadian in me coming out”. Don’t do this if you’re in Canada, though.