Strangers in a Strange Land
TO THE SAME EXTENT THAT I ENJOY BRINGING HOME ADOPTED PETS, my husband Bob loves taking in houseguests – particularly those from distant lands. During the past five years, our guest book has rounded out the entire United Nations.
Most of our international guests have found their way to our doorstep on their very first visit to the United States. Through that lens, our family has represented the “model” of American life, and for this, we offer our sincerest apologies to Americans everywhere, as well as to the United Nations.
It’s fair to assume the out-of-towners have taken back some confusing lessons about Americans, based on their experiences under our roof.
The takeaway: We are all loud.
The truth: There are many quiet and reserved Americans who respect the sanctity of other people’s space. We are not among them. Additionally, my husband belongs to that camp of “talk at a high volume so that the non-English speaker will suddenly understand a complicated language that’s pock-marked with irregular verbs and nonsensical plural formations.”
The takeaway: We subsist on McDonald’s.
The truth: McDonald’s is only a small part of our varied diet. Wendy’s, Taco Cabana, Chick-Fil-A, Qdoba and Sonic make up the other parts.
The takeaway: We spend a disproportionate amount of time in front of the television.
The truth: Sure, there’s a TV in every room, but we’re not in front of it at all times. Ever heard of Facebook? Pinterest? YouTube? Netflix?
The takeaway: Everything is big in America.
The truth: Without the stretch Hummer, how would we get the groceries home from Sam’s?
The takeaway: We can’t function without A/C in every space.
The truth: We can’t function without A/C in every space, including that ozone layer surrounding our biscuits, which is why we’ve invented air-conditioned car seats. We’re serious about the A/C, so if you see us coming for a visit to your country, go ahead and turn that thermostat down about 20 degrees a few hours in advance.
The takeaway: Americans drive everywhere.
The truth: Walking makes us sweat and we can now air-condition our butts … so, yeah.
The takeaway: We don’t sit down as a family at the dinner table.
The truth: The dining room is the only room in the house without a TV and we’re not about to miss the final week of “American Idol.” It would be un-American.
The takeaway: We are cowboys and we want everyone to be a cowboy.
The truth: We are not all cowboys and you’ll only have to wear that stupid hat until you get to DFW for your connecting flight. But we really are sorry about the extra weight in your bag from the boots, spurs and chaps.
The takeaway: Mama doesn’t cook.
The truth: That’s right
The takeaway: Americans put too much emphasis on money and material things.
The truth: Sometimes it’s just easier to buy a new iPhone charger than to look for the lost one.
The takeaway: Americans actually eat in the car.
The truth: That’s because some of our favorite restaurants still don’t have TVs, but our cars do.
The takeaway: We’re manic drivers.
The truth: No. That’s just Bob.
The takeaway: We’re prone to violence – probably because of our steady diet of TV reality shows.
The truth: We’re prone to violence because someone drank the last Dr Pepper or ate the last pizza Lunchable and now they must suffer.
The takeaway: We waste resources. For example, we leave the lights on in every room of the house.
The truth: How else will the next houseguest find us?