Archive for August, 2010


August 27, 2010

Lately I’ve been pondering what makes Americans look so… American.

The English say it’s our wide, white, toothy grins. Probably because they nurse a national self-consciousness about their teeth, and smile so as to hide them.

Another friend says it’s our bad posture. But I don’t think we’re more hunched than other nations, unless Parisian women count as a nation.

Nope. You could take off our sneakers, tuck in our t-shirts, wrap a scarf around our necks – and we still wouldn’t fool anybody. Because I don’t think it’s our looks that make us look American. I think it’s our minds.

When you believe that Jesus watches over you, that self-help books really work, that you are the best DIY project you’ll ever have – it’s a pretty good feeling. It makes you bound around like a golden retriever, licking strangers, wagging your tail, knocking over everything in sight: houseplants, wineglasses, Afghanistan.

Europeans are a bit more guarded. They keep their energy wrapped about them, like a smart trench coat. Disaster could strike any day, and often has; rain could fall at any moment, and usually does; the world could get darker, just wait until 4 pm.

Or 1939. Either way.