Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Holidays are the time when we all think of peace on earth and goodwill towards man. I have also learned, since living in Holland, that it is also the time of year when people feel the need to display their stupidity in large quantities, with absolutely no regard for the mental trauma they inflict on those of us with an IQ above 70. The other unfortunate thing, is that this lack of mental clarity seems to be concentrated among Americans. Now, before any of you Americans get all upset, I am not talking to anyone of you, otherwise this whole thing would just be a waste of pixels.

Most of my frustration centers around Thanksgiving… Yes, I know I am a bit late… I have had the following conversation several times a year for the past years… Almost verbatim, it goes like this: (The opening may change depending on if it is happening in the US or here, but the result is the same in any case – This is basically a conversation I had on my first night in Raleigh, North Carolina not too long ago…)

American: Where you from?
Me: I Live in The Netherlands, but I am from California
American: Wow! (no American conversation is complete without that word)
Is Copenhagen a nice place to live?
Me: Guess so, but I’ve never been there
American: But I thought you lived in Sweden?
Me: (I realize I am in a hopeless conversation and try to ignore person)
American: What do y’all do for Fourth of July over there?
Me: Nothing
American: You mean you don’t celebrate the Fourth?
Me: Not really, it is mostly about American Independence
American: Do y’all eat turkey on Thanksgiving, I mean do you even have them over there?
Me: Don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands
American: Are you serious!!?
Me: Well, Thanksgiving is all about when a bunch of people went on a three hour tour to the edge of the earth and ended up on an uncharted continent. After they went through many hardships, they had a good harvest, thanks to the Indians and all their help, so the Pilgrims threw a big dinner to thank the Indians before massacring them out of gratitude. (Now, here is a little something I got from Kurt Vonnegut… The Earth is several hundred million years old. Man is supposedly the most intelligent creature on the planet. Man has been around at least 10 thousand years and that is if you follow biblical time…. Now, all that given, why is it that only 500 years ago, the most intelligent creature “found” the other side of the world?)
American: But you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving?
Me: (decide to try and ignore again)
American: (Thinking as deeply as his genetic make-up will allow) No Fourth, no Thanksgiving, no Christmas…
Me: We celebrate Christmas
American: Why would you celebrate Christmas when you don’t have Thanksgiving
Me: Christmas is a bit more global than Thanksgiving… Jesus was born for all of us, the last time I checked…
American: That just doesn’t make no sense
Me: (Decide to walk to walk away)
American: (Follows after a while, I am the cutest guy in the bar, if I do say so myself) Can I ask you just one question?
Me: (try to ignore but nod yes)
American: Do y’all wear them wooden shoes?

Imagine enduring that year after year… It gives me a hangover. Prime example of why brothers and sisters should not be allowed to reproduce.

So, this morning I went to the corner grocery store to do my last minute food shopping before everything closed for the holidays. Friday is also a holiday here, so nothing opens until Saturday, at which time I will be traveling at 160 Miles an hour on a train to Val Thorens for a week of snowboarding fun. Anyway, the busiest food shopping day of the year, and the lady in front of me decided to pay for all her groceries with small change. That in itself, while annoying enough, was made worse by the fact that not only did she keep losing count, but so did the cashier. There I stood, getting more and more wrinkled by the moment, coming very close to just paying for her groceries to get her out of my way. Almost 10 minutes this took, an eternity for me as I hate grocery stores. If given the choice between the dentist and grocery shopping, I would go to the dentist…

About 7 years ago, I went to Israel to visit my then boyfriend. On Christmas Eve, I went to Bethlehem. He was not allowed to go. People from Israel must have a legitimate reason for entering into Palestinian Territory, and as he is Jewish, he could not really find a way to justify being in Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of Christ. So, alone I went. We were all to take a normal touring bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, where we would change to armored busses and then be driven into Bethlehem. On the way to Jerusalem, we were told about what to do and what not to do should the bus be attacked. What to do it a Molotov cocktail hit us… Rocks. Angry mobs with sticks… The closer we got to Jerusalem, the quieter it got in the bus. Fortunately, we did not have to change busses (I have been on an armored bus… very weird feeling) and we got into Bethlehem without any incidents. The whole event takes place on Manger Square, in the center of town. I expected everything to be very quiet and respectful. It was a party. Bands, dancing, drinking… everyone was just having a great time and celebrating the holidays while being patrolled by heavily armed Palestinian Soldiers. It was one of the best Christmases I have ever had. That same year, on New Years Eve, I was flying to Amsterdam from Tel Aviv, complete with broken heart as I had just split up with my boyfriend… I cut my trip a week short and came back home… Anyway, I was sitting on the plane when this woman, who looked just like Sylvia Fine from the nanny, sits next to me and looks me up and down. I was in no mood to talk, but she did not seem to be aware of that fact. She turns to me and says (this is a direct quote… Even I could not make this up) “Do you know what your problem is? You are too beautiful for your own good and people fall instantly in love with you”. She then spent the next 5 hours (normally it is a 4 hour flight, but we stopped in the south of Israel for refueling) elaborating on this. Not only that, but she had exactly the same problem and she felt we were the only ones that could understand each other. Half way through the flight, I got up and went to sit in the back, in the smoking section. Guess who smokes? And again, I was trapped in the middle seat, she was on the aisle. There was nothing to do but give up any hope of peace.

Oy Vey.

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