I do love Americans. Many of my blog readers are American. I find Americans to be polite, well-educated and articulate. Apart from the rude, ignorant and incoherent ones, but that’s another story.
There are lots of reasons to like Americans. They used to be British for a start.
Americans have wonderful names like Brad, Hank, and Mary-Lou, and they come from places with quaint names like Minna-sota and Massa-choo-sits and Oak-la-homer.
Americans use strange words, like sidewalk and gasoline, and engage in peculiar activities, like gettin’ fixed and gettin’ gotten, phrases that seem to have no discernible meaning.
A lot of American words are ugly. Why do they replace beautiful European words like café with utilitarian equivalents like diner? Perhaps worst of all is the horrible mom word. Honestly, how could you love your children, if they called you mom?
It would be an easy mistake to imagine that Americans are illiterate oafs, but that would be quite wrong. They are simply misinformed in their use of the English language. It isn’t their fault, you understand. Many of them have never even travelled abroad. And yet their ancestors travelled such a long way across the ocean to get to America. Even on arrival in the new world, they were not content to crowd into the east coast cities, but quickly spread across the whole continent. How strange that the descendants of those early explorers think that a vacation in Disneyland is the most the world has to offer.
I admit that I don’t really understand America. Much of my knowledge of the country came from watching American TV while growing up in the 70s and 80s, so it may be wildly inaccurate. It was hard to put together a coherent image of the country from watching TV. There were so many different sides to the coin. There were the honest-to-goodness hard-working folk in The Waltons. The god-damn-it straight-talking no-nonsense John Wayne. The mono-syllabic morally-ambiguous world of Clint Eastwood. The affluent, cocky young Americans of Grease and Animal House. The easy money and morals of the Texan oil barons in Dallas. The sleazy, multi-cultural, crime-infested New York of Starsky and Hutch. The dangerously lost half-lives of Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy. The corruption of the Godfather. The youthful idealism (or slick stage management?) of JFK and Jacky. The insane yet charming voice of the flower power people of San Francisco. Just when you thought you had Americans pinned down, the focus would lurch again. How to make sense of it, other than to accept it all as part of a contradictory whole?
No wonder Americans don’t feel the need to travel. They have an entire universe within their own borders.
Despite all of their failings, Americans are smart. They invented the aeroplane (they call it the airplane, like it’s a plastic toy or something) and the google, and the all-night drive-thru burger diner. (They think they invented the computer, the jet engine and the iPhone too, but that was the Brits, you know.)
I am old enough to still find it mind-moggling that people from the other side of the Atlantic may read my words, and so if there are any Americans reading this blog, let me give you a big welcome! In fact, let me say, howdy pardner! Or whatever it is that Americans say.