I’m a fan of a bunch of ex-patriate blogs here on WordPress (check out Ellen Hawley’s blogroll on Notes from the UK for a great list of bloggers straddling cultures), and after
years months of reading these blogs study, I think I’ve stumbled across the difference between Americans and Europeans: it’s all about beaver.
See, there are only two varieties of beaver in this world, the European Beaver which looks like this:
As you can see*, they’re a lot alike, and, according to the scientific journal Mammal Research, both European beavers and their American cousins inhabit similar ecosystems and lead similar lives, dividing their time between chewing down trees and building up dams.
Except there’s this one perhaps not inconsequential difference: European beavers are monogamous, while American beavers sleep around.
I’m an American who writes about
science law Dr. Ruth Westheimer beavers sex, so this bit of information absolutely delights me, because of course American beavers are out there slutting it up. I’m sure there’s a few whole bunch of Europeans who read this blog and are nodding their heads right along with me, but for different reasons.
“Isn’t that just like an American?” I imagine them saying. “Even their beavers are vulgar.”
Since my knowledge of Europeans comes mostly from watching Masterpiece Theater, I could be wrong about what they might think. Perhaps when they hear about our sexy beavers they’ll think something like “How wonderful!” or “Isn’t that interesting?” rather than express disgust at our aquatic mammals who are unable to resist their baser instincts.
I guess I’ll never know for sure what Europeans think unless I travel outside the US. As readers of this blog know, I’ve been contemplating a trip to Great Britain where I could observe the inhabitants up close in their natural surroundings, just like the scientists who researched the mating habits of beavers, rather than long distance, via an episode of Downton Abbey.
In the meantime, I’ve been reading all these ex-patriate blogs, trying to prepare myself, and I’ve come away with the distinct impression that the rest of the world has a few problems with Americans. And South Americans have a problem with us even calling ourselves “Americans” because aren’t they Americans, too? What’s with these self-centered, self-absorbed, conceited, narcissistic norteamericanos thinking they’re the only Americans that matter in the whole entire world?
Anyway, if you Google the phrase “American stereotype” you’ll find out what much of the world thinks of us. To them, Americans exist as a dazzling array of unpleasant characteristics.
- We’re violent. We all carry guns and shoot one another at random.
- We’re loud. We talk loud, we laugh loud, we breathe loud, we just have to announce our presence everywhere with noise.
- We’re obnoxious/rude/uncouth/arrogant. Take your pick. Or all of the above.
- We’re ignorant about the world, and most everything else.
- We’re obsessed with money.
And maybe we are all of those things. All I know is that when I travel to Europe, I want to make sure that no one ever says after I leave a room, “Of course, she’s American.” Instead, I want to absolutely explode the stereotype of Americans in the minds of the Europeans I encounter. When I leave the room, I want them to say, “Can you believe she’s American?”
I haven’t yet figured out how I’ll do this. Maybe I’ll wear a beret. Maybe I’ll chain smoke cigarettes out of a skinny cigarette holder. Maybe I’ll drop the names of world capitals into conversation. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to lose my accent, which sounds like I’m from New York to people who have never been to New York (I’m actually from Connecticut originally), but I’m thinking I might have to pretend to be mute, which would at least solve that “Americans are loud” thing, too.
So I’m prepared to do all that, and explain our lecherous beavers to them.
*The actual title of this photo, and I swear I am not making this up, is “Wet Beaver.”
Royalty-free stock photos, including the images in this post, can be found at freeimages.com.