Even Our Beavers Are Different

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:

677480_44997684and the North American 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'll even eat French food.

In my effort to prove that not all Americans are provincial, I’ll even eat French food.

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.

27 thoughts on “Even Our Beavers Are Different

      • Karen says:

        I dunno–is that polite? Or is that a dig? Are they hoping against hope that you are Canadian, because Americans are just so unbearable?

        I dunno. I’m a little bit scared to even go over there now, because I’m afraid I’ll have a chip on my shoulder, and get into fights. And that would just lead to everyone going around saying, “See??? American!”


    • balletandboxing says:

      Ummmm, no. Us Canadians have enough problems right now, with our Prime Minister that has forgotten what a lot of our Cdn values are, and is turning us into a less loud USA.
      We can’t accept illegal immigrants, I’m afraid, even of the backpacking-in-Europe variety.

      Incidentally, are Canadian beavers (hello!!! Beavers are OUR symbolic animal!) also sluts? My Canadian identity is anxious.


    • Karen says:

      Well, I don’t want to hide the fact that I’m American. I just want to disprove these horrible stereotypes.

      Deep down, of course, I’m afraid I really am loud and obnoxious. But that’s not because I’m American. It’s because I’m half-Italian.


      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ellen Hawley says:

    Beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK way back in I’m not sure when–probably when men were still wearing top hats made of beaver fur (felted, that is, not the full furry pelt). A couple of beavers recently escaped an animal park in the Southwest (that’s of the UK, by the way) and made themselves a home, as they will, in the wild, and people are getting hysterical about it. They’ll change the ecosystem. They’ll dam the rivers. They’ll eat the fish. On the other side are the people who argue that they’re seriously cute and need to be left alone. No one seems to be arguing–as someone should–that they’ll change the ecosystem for the better, and that even if they’ve been imported, they are native. Which of course raises the seriously confusing issue of what “native” means. For the moment, they’re being left alone to do what they do–and I’m not sure if they’re American or European beavers, so I don’t know what they do. Also, I’m not sure enough couples are on the loose to make non-monogamy possible.


    • Karen says:

      I don’t know if beavers reintroduced to the UK will change the ecosystem there for the betterment of wildlife in general. Certainly, they’ll make it better for beavers. I know there are lots of relocations of beaver colonies that occur in the US because they build these dams and absolutely wreak havoc on rivers and streams and the non-beaver critters that live there.

      In the research (hah!) that I did for this post, I did read about those fugitive British beavers–I think there’s still one lone male on the loose and no one is sure how he got there. I think he must have been a pet that grew too big for his cage, and, like the alligators that roam the New York City sewer system in urban legends, he was turned lose.


  2. Yahooey says:

    And if it was the North American beavers that were monogamous, we’ be saying “see, they’re all fundamentalist prudes; they don’t understand the art of making love.”


  3. Dylan Hearn says:

    I think wearing a beret and smoking out of a skinny cigarette holder in London will make you blend in just fine. You go for it! If you want to see something more like Downton, though, you’ll have to visit the rest of the country (the bit that’s not London), where we all live like that. Except of course, the North, where it’s more like Billy Elliot. And Birmingham, where it’s wall-to-wall sharia law and no-go zones.


    • Karen says:

      The beret and the skinny cigarette holder will make me fit in any hipster location on the globe, I think.

      Oddly enough, Birmingham, Alabama is also a no-go zone (as is the rest of the Alabama, and most of the South, which is full of red-neck inbreeds.)


  4. Trent Lewin says:

    You know, our beavers can totally take theirs too, you know. So there is that, slutting it up and all. I’m going over to UK in a few months, I am going to sneak a beaver in my luggage and let it have some fun amongst all those stuck-up, overly-properly European beavers.


    • Karen says:

      Beavers are actually extinct in the UK-they killed them all off to make hats a long, long (400 years!) ago, so I’m afraid you’re illegal immigrant beaver will be very lonely indeed in the wilds of the UK.

      It would be interesting to see if an American and a European beaver got together, would the slutty or prudish gene (I’m sure the behavior can be traced back to a single gene!) would be passed on to their offspring?


  5. hilarycustancegreen says:

    I’m a Brit who has acquired an American son-in-law and his delightful parents. Our daughter now lives in Chicago – so we get to visit this stunning city. You might be disappointed, natives of the UK, like Americans, vary wildly (in sex habits, politics, eating etc) depending on which bit of Britain they come from and what their parents taught them… so same difference really. It’s just odd bits of language… like ‘hang a right’ or ‘take a rain check’ that confuse us temporarily. But please come just the same, someone will be happy to sell you a Downton stereotype.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen says:

      It warms my red white and blue heart that you find your American in-laws delightful!
      And I’m not such a fan of Downton Abbey as this post might suggest–I keep rooting for the servants to revolt.


  6. hilarycustancegreen says:

    Yes, we went out to Cleveland to meet the in-laws while the youngsters were in London. We have few obvious tastes or interests in common and yet we got on so well. It sounds old-fashioned, but our principles are the same. You could always write the next episode of Downton…


Comments are closed.