The Pretty American
Sunday 16 October 2006 @ 10:23 am
or, how to avoid an international incident for less than $20,000US a day!
Americans tourists have pretty much always been regarded as “ugly” in the sense that we have the temerity to be wealthy enough to afford vacations to foreign countries, then show up over there and instead of just handing over our traveler’s checks or credit cards, we actually talk, dress and act in an American fashion.
[UPDATE] Welcome Little Green Footballs readers and thanks for the link! Please look around and check out the rest of NER.
[NEW UPDATE 4.18.06] Pajamas Media has picked up “The Pretty American” as one of their feature articles, which is pretty cool. Thank you guys. Please read some of our other great writers’ stuff.
Well I’m sure that’s news to you, as a typical ignorant American barbarian, stomping around the Rue des Pommes de Terre in your Nikes and NUKE IRAN T-shirt, unwittingly giving the US of A and President George “Dubya” Bush a bad name tarry-hootin’ around with your provincial monkeyshines. So, ok, now that you know you are an unsophisticated clodhopper, how can you avoid that embarrassing faux pas (Fr.; literally, “fart in church”) that can turn a lovely overseas visit with our foreign friends into a blood vendetta that engulfs even your children’s children?
Today’s online News Telegraph sports an article of interest and educational value (file under: inter-cational) for all y’all stateside yokels; ‘Speak softly, don’t argue and slow down’ By Philip Sherwell which instructs the boorish American Tourist thusly:
Loud and brash, in gawdy garb and baseball caps, more than three million of them flock to our shores every year. Shuffling between tourist sites or preparing to negotiate a business deal, they bemoan the failings of the world outside the United States.
Its well known that gawdy, colourful garb is frowned upon, especially in African or Latin American countries, so go with the earth tones, people. And if you’re visiting Mexico or Ecuador, a large, jauntily embroidered sombrero would be much more appropriate than a baseball cap for formal occasions, particularly. A scarlet fez with purple piping and a festive gold tassel is also suitable for almost any situation in any country.
“World Citizens Guide” features 16 etiquette tips on how they can help improve America’s battered international image. The guide offers a series of “simple suggestions” under the slogan, “Help your country while you travel for your company”. The advice targets a series of common American traits and includes:
• Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller. (In many countries, any form of boasting is considered very rude. Talking about wealth, power or status – corporate or personal – can create resentment.)
One way you can help avoid “boasting” is avoid throwing money around like a big shot. Tip very meagerly, if at all. Your foreign hosts, taxi drivers and concierges will appreciate your humbleness and lack of braggadocio. This does not include bribing law enforcement officials, who should get a gratuity on a scale of five times the amount of your fine. Hand it over before they have to ask for it, to avoid embarrassment or inconvenient, lengthy incarcerations.
Also, don’t pontificate about the luxuries we enjoy back home, like indoor plumbing, toothpaste and shoes.
• Save the lectures for your kids. (Whatever your subject of discussion, let it be a discussion not a lecture. Justified or not, the US is seen as imposing its will on the world.)
Whether rudely forcing Nazis to leave Western Europe or bossily pressuring the U.S.S.R. out of Eastern Europe, history shows that the U.S. is always “imposing its will” like that. You might think people would be grateful, but you’d be wrong, dead wrong. Its considered bad form to remind your snotty French waiter that he’d be serving crappy, greasy, overpriced weinerschnitzel instead of crappy, greasy overpriced Chaussons aux Framboises if it wasn’t for American G.I.s, when you send back your meal for more sauces.
• Slow down. (We talk fast, eat fast, move fast, live fast. Many cultures do not.)
Its best to drive at a sedate 20 mph (or in Europe, 12.5 hectares per hogshead). Try to take as long as possible to order your meals, asking about each and every item on the menu, whether or not it contains any dog, and how it is prepared. Once you receive your meal, taking 5-6 hours minimum to savor the meal (then taking a short nap at your table) is considered about right in any country with electricity. Send all meat and poultry dishes back to the kitchen repeatedly with compliments to the chef and requesting “otra MSG por favor!” to show your “savoir faire” (Fr.; term meaning “classiness” and/or “toilet-trained”)
And for God’s sake, don’t talk fast in the bossy, rude American fashion. Talk slowly and deliberately, like our Cuban, Mexican, Italian and Central-American cousins.
• If you talk politics, talk – don’t argue. (Steer clear of arguments about American politics, even if someone is attacking US politicians or policies. Agree to disagree.)
This is especially true in Middle-Eastern countries where the natives may engage in the quaint local debating tactic of cutting off your head if you insist on American-type customs and freedoms (like being set free) in their more “restrictive” society.
The guide goes on with helpful tips like “don’t dress too casually” and “allow locals to dump on America and American citizens at will and take it like a good little doggy”, but I thought of a few suggestions myself that have helped me overseas.
• Foreigners have a great sense of humor. In the spirit of inclusiveness, try to tell as many American jokes as you can about their particular ethnic or national group. You’ll have a great time enjoying a hearty laugh together when you explain “Estonian women don’t use them because it chips their teeth!”
• Another humorous gambit is doing an ethnic “impression” to show your hosts how their country and countrymen are portrayed in America. You might consider acting out a skit involving famous foreign comedic figures like Pepe Le Pue, Commandant Klink (Hogan!! shake fist) the Frito Bandito, Boris Badinov or Jacques Chirac, for example.
• In the spirit of international brotherhood and comaraderie, point out how things in the United States are much like the things in the country you are visiting, except ours are usually bigger, nicer, newer and cleaner. Remark on how cool it will be when they knock down all these useless old hovels and put up a sparkling new Wal-Mart.
• In an effort to improve communication, adopt an accent copying the people you meet, even if you are still speaking English. Speaking very loudly also helps.
• To help clarify why most Americans prefer baseball, football or even lacrosse, figure skating or Bassmaster to soccer, helpfully explain in detail and at length how stupid soccer is to most Americans.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions and show interest in your hosts’ country. “Why does this place smell so bad?” is a good conversation starter. “Why are all the children so ugly in this prefecture? Is it something in the water?” is a fine way to hone your international rapport skills.
• Especially in France, discuss cooking and your satisfaction with your meals. “Regardez, mon goût d’hamburger au fromage comme un chat mort” is a happy way to begin a friendly dialogue. Don’t forget to instruct your kids on how to gracefully accept the surrender of any French soldiers they might encounter.
• Bone up on the most popular names in the country you are visiting and use them to address waiters, bellmen, taxi drivers, clergymen etc. Its a more personal way of communicating, for instance in Italy, you would say “Hey Guido, howsa ’bout you get my bags up to my room tutti allegro?” Avoid overly casual terms like “greaseball” or “croissant-jockey” unless you are speaking using informal conversational English.
• Group singing of ethnic songs is a traditional bonding ritual in many foreign countries. Feel free to shout out your own typical, uniquely American folk song and lead the group in a rousing chorus of “Shizzle My Nizzle”
H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A
Fo’ shizzle my nizzle used to dribble down in PA
Was herbin’ em in the home o’ the turbans
H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A
Fo’ sheezy my neezy keep my arms so greasy
Can’t leave rap alone the game needs me
Using these and many other tips, like belching or flatulating loudly to indicate satisfaction with your meal; deeply kissing your host’s wife and gently fondling her buttocks in the Finnish manner to show your appreciation for their hospitality; breaking any dishes, windows or mirrors you see for luck; “busting a cap” in celebration of a goal scored (typically soccer goals are scored several times every 5-10 games, so remember to reload between periods); etc, will help you blend right in with the natives and show proper respect to almost any backward, impoverished, god-forsaken foreign country, and help promote understanding and love between dirty foreigners and decent Americans the world over.
– Posted in International, Humor, Pop Culture by docweasel
37 Responses to ‘The Pretty American’
1. Comment from mungagungadin – April 16th, 2006 at 4:08 pm
now look what you’ve done, I have to clean my screen!
2. Comment from Chet – April 16th, 2006 at 4:20 pm
now that is funny, fo’ shizzle!
3. Comment from Paul Atreides – April 16th, 2006 at 4:29 pm
Personally, I’m not inclined to take any chances: I’ll just not risk offending anyone by taking my vacation and spending my money here in the U.S.
4. Comment from Oscar – April 16th, 2006 at 5:21 pm
Hey, Guido! Do you need some American engineers to come in here and straighten up that leaning tower you got there? It looks like it’s gonna fall right down, kind of like that hotel the tour had us staying in last night!
5. Comment from BulgarWheat – April 16th, 2006 at 5:46 pm
Saw this linked from LGF.
6. Trackback from Ed Driscoll.com – April 16th, 2006 at 5:47 pm
Important Tips For Americans Traveling Abroad In The 21st Century…
In these rough and uncharted times, travel abroad–even to Europe–can be precarious at best. In order to avoid the dreaded International Incident in the dortoir continental, New England Republican has some important travel tips all Americans could ben…
7. Comment from Cato the Elder – April 16th, 2006 at 5:54 pm
I’ve always found that Europeans get very testy at misplaced or superfluous apostrophes, as in “New’s Telegraph” – as though the paper were from a place called “New.”
How snooty of them to actually respect the English language more than we Merkans do!
8. Comment from somaking – April 16th, 2006 at 6:03 pm
Why do they hate us so ?!?
Lord, help me change so that Americans will be well-liked in the world.
That which will save this great land of ours.
9. Comment from jesusland joe – April 16th, 2006 at 6:41 pm
I’m not particularly concerned about whether people around the World like me, or America, for that matter.
My concern is more tailored toward all the money the US Government is spending around the World without getting much result from same.
I have a suggestion. The US should not spend one cent for any foreign aid of any kind for one full year, and then we can come back and have this discussion. Perhaps some people overseas will come to the conclusion that we are not so bad after all. Or in the alternative, think about all the money we will save.
10. Comment from Assistant Village Idiot – April 16th, 2006 at 7:22 pm
A good reason to visit Eastern Europe is that they like us there — as much as they like anyone, that is.
See how groups of Germans act in London, it’s hard to imagine that Americans could be any worse.
11. Comment from Dave – April 16th, 2006 at 7:53 pm
Here’s my tip for those smokers out there: when in Germany, if somebody offers to buy a cigarette from you – JUST GIVE HIM/HER THE BUTT!!!
The impression your generosity will create (vs the locals) will be priceless!!.
12. Comment from Jarrett – April 16th, 2006 at 8:44 pm
Heh. Nice. Except the French might not understand what you were saying in the “chat mort” bit. Try this one:
Mon hamburger au fromage a le goût d’un chat mort.
How about these helpful phrases:
Mieux que toi = “I’m humbled.”
Salope or putain = form of utmost respect for females.
Salaud (pronounced “sal-oh”) = form of utmost respect for males.
Va te faire foutre = “Yes, I see your point” and “I respect you very much” and a whole whack of things when you’re trying to be super-polite.
13. Comment from Thomas – April 16th, 2006 at 10:09 pm
Also recommend staying up with fashion trends over there. Do NOT wear your “Kill a Commie for Mommie” t-shirt only tucked in at the belt buckle.
14. Trackback from Weekend Pundit – April 16th, 2006 at 10:09 pm
Thoughts On A Sunday…
It’s Easter Sunday and a portion of the Weekend Pundit clan came over for Easter Dinner. A good time was had by all. ****** We……
15. Comment from jesusland joe – April 16th, 2006 at 10:16 pm
What should I do about my tattoo that says “kill a commie for mommie”, wear a long sleave shirt all the time. What would I ever do without my “wife beater” t-shirt? Geez, give a guy a break. You can take this “lovie-dovie” crap too far, you know.
16. Comment from AST – April 16th, 2006 at 10:30 pm
Americans should remember that these people cannot lose their jobs under any circumstances and will feel no need to deliver the service you’re paying for.
17. Comment from Dan – April 16th, 2006 at 10:35 pm
Yea! One could always hit a Bavarian Bierkeller, and start belting out, native fashion, the HORST WESSEL.
That always goes down well with the locals. Brings back so many fond memories, and hearkens back, nostaligic fashion.
18. Comment from Alex – April 17th, 2006 at 12:11 am
#9 (jesusland joe) I suposse in that same year no American company could sell any product to any foreign country, right?
19. Comment from mommydoc – April 17th, 2006 at 12:45 am
No, Alex, I think that’s backward. They are free to spend their money with us. I think it would be more along the lines of we don’t buy anything from foreign countries.
Although, in those cases, we are at least arguably getting something of value for the money we spend.
20. Trackback from Impacted Wisdom Truth – April 17th, 2006 at 3:24 am
The Pretty American? Pretty What? …
Docweasel at New England Republican has some travel tips for Americans traveling abroad.
Props: Ed Driscoll…
21. Comment from docweasel – April 17th, 2006 at 4:14 am
Weekend Pundit and
Impacted Wisdom Truth for the trackbacks and everyone for the comments.
Very Happy Easter with huge hit-counts thanks to you guys. Hope everyone visiting NER will check out the other writers on the blog as well.
22. Comment from Richard in Port Orchard, WA – April 17th, 2006 at 6:12 am
Very Funny! Another hint: When in certain mideast countries be sure to eat only with your RIGHT hand. These folks, um, ‘wipe’ with their left hands (on the rare occasions they actually perform this hygienic act) and consider the left hand “filthy”. Because between 13% and 30% of the world are left-handed, and forced changing of handedness is psychologicly harmful, this accounts for their high percentage of nutcakes.
23. Comment from cathy – April 17th, 2006 at 9:39 am
This is too much information for this ugly american.. too many rules.. I’ll have to stay in my home country then…. what a hardship thats going to be….
24. Comment from Running Dog – April 17th, 2006 at 10:22 am
Here’s another website with some useful French phrases:
25. Comment from jesusland joe – April 17th, 2006 at 10:28 am
Alex, you have confused the forcible removal of money by taxes versus the free spending of assets for products with no force implied or used. In other words, Alex, any citizen of any country is never forced to buy products from American companies.
If you can’t see the difference between the two, go back to grade school.
26. Comment from Nahanni – April 17th, 2006 at 10:59 am
After having to put up with Eurotourists at the Grand Canyon last summer it might do them well to read that guide.
Though I must admit it was fun watching the park rangers hauling off some Germans who were plowing through and knocking people out of their way on the trail. One kid almost fell into the canyon from this.
When they were stopped by park law enforcement they went into the “speak German only” mode and were quite rude. Unfortunately for them they assumed that Americans are ignorant and do not know German. Unfortunately for them there were a couple of people (including my aunt, a retired German professor) who were happy to translate what they were saying. Their words certainly did not win them friends or influence people.
On a non related topic to the canyon incident.
Memo to Eurotourists: You do NOT look good in Speedos.
27. Comment from finnschick – April 17th, 2006 at 11:25 am
No kidding… My brother-in-law went to England a few years ago. He got an eagle tattoo in preparation for his trip, couldn’t understand why the pubs didn’t serve Keystone, & referred to everyone in the country as “Swedes”.
God love him.
28. Comment from Alex – April 17th, 2006 at 1:38 pm
jesuslanjoe maybe you should go back to history school and learn how many wars has been started just to defend america´s economic interests abroad, or how many dictatorships have been supported economically and military to grant access of american companies to that country resources, you do it their way or you get bombed or economically sanctioned, thats the reputation that Usa has built the second half of the 20th century and it doesn’t seem it’s going to change
29. Comment from Patrick – April 17th, 2006 at 2:21 pm
Their infatuation with soccer is not surprising considering their politics. The PROCESS is what is important. Results are secondary.
30. Comment from M B – April 17th, 2006 at 4:19 pm
Oh man, this has to be some of the funniest stuff I have read.
“Avoid overly casual terms like “greaseball” or “croissant-jockey” unless you are speaking using informal conversational English.”
My whole office is looking at me strangely as I try to hold in laughter.
31. Comment from jesusland joe – April 17th, 2006 at 6:03 pm
Alex, you act as if you might be on the losing end of some of this American largesse I mentioned. Living off the fat of the land, are we. Burned any cars lately, Alex?
32. Comment from PC – April 18th, 2006 at 3:02 am
Hilarious stuff. Thanks.
33. Comment from Yub – April 18th, 2006 at 6:35 am
“I have a suggestion. The US should not spend one cent for any foreign aid of any kind for one full year, and then we can come back and have this discussion.” – jesusland joe
It looks like you have started:
34. Comment from dataman55 – April 18th, 2006 at 10:03 am
In my best John Cleese accent:
“Whatever you do, don’t mention the war. I did, but I think I got away with it”.
35. Comment from jesusland joe – April 19th, 2006 at 7:35 pm
300 million dollars to just one area of the world is a miserable start. My original suggestion of $0 still stands. I can just imagine the outrage! That in itself would be worth it.
But I would hate it for the poor people who only get a tiny fraction of the money donated. The stinkers at the myriad of NGOs, etc. who make a living off the taxpayer of various nations would receive no such sympathy from me, however.
36. Trackback from Decision ’08 – April 19th, 2006 at 9:40 pm
Wednesday Night Quick Shots…
One of those days when I get around to everything, so here’s a few quick recommendations.
All I can say about this Ryan James piece is “It’s a start!”…
Ken Rudin has the latest edition of the always interesting Politica…
37. Comment from Ciorstan – May 9th, 2006 at 7:02 pm
So let me get this straight: When visiting this summer, I can’t wear the Dale Earnhardt T-shirt with the baseball hat with plastic dog turd on the brim? I wish you’d told me before I went shopping!
Oh, and absolutely hysterical!