A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
As the 21st century evolves, nationalism is becoming a dirty word. Pride in one’s country is considered déclassé at best and downright racist at worst. What a crock of crap! Since when did self-esteem became synonymous with hostility? God, we live in useless times! Yet there are tons of people who want to do away with these “stereotypical labels.” Yeah, yeah, yeah! We’re all God’s children, artificially separated by imaginary political boundaries. [Heavy sigh!] The last time I ate that pie-in-the-sky, I was twelve. Since ancient times, people have identified things by the places they come from — things like Persian carpets, Greek fire and Mongolian barbeque. It’s jargon. It gives us tons of information. It’s doesn’t carry a judgement call. Let me demonstrate.
When I was a kid, there was a cool joke that swept the neighbourhood.
“How do you make a Venetian Blind?”
“Poke his eyes out!”
This is a funny, but it simply doesn’t work with any other city. There are all kinds of things like this. For example:
A German Shepherd is a dog, whereas a Swiss Shepherd is Heidi’s grandfather.
Russian Roulette is a game you don’t really wanna play, but if you have enough money, regular roulette can be kinda fun.
I don’t think the Beatles song Norwegian Wood would have had the same impact if the refrain was “Isn’t it good? / Yugoslavian wood.”
The French are particularly good at just stealing stuff and saying it belongs to them. Things like French toast, French manicure, French horn, French press, French braids, French beans and, obviously, French fries. None of these are even French, BTW, but the entire world knows them by that name. Remember when the Americans tried to change French fries to Freedom fries and came off lookin’ like total idiots? And, of course, there’s the French kiss which, I can tell you from experience, is probably French, cuz it involves an awful lot more tongue than most people are used to.
Plus, some words are just shorthand.
People drink Scotch, not “a blended malt liquor from the northern part of the British Isles.”
For Christmas dinner, you trot out the good china, not “the very best dinnerware.”
And when you and the boyfriend are off to the beach you wear a Bikini, not an “obscenely skimpy, two-piece swimming costume.” Meanwhile, he’s wearing Bermuda shorts, not “frumpy dad pants that make his ass look tired.”
A Singapore Sling is a drink. A Chicago sling is probably what you use when the loan shark breaks your arm.
A Brazilian Wax is a cringe-worthy beauty affectation, but English wax is just what’s left over after the candles burn down.
Turkish Delight is a delicious snack you want to put in your mouth. America cheese? – not so much.
And it goes on
There are animals: Shetland ponies, Labrador retrievers and Bengal tigers. Drinks: a Manhattan, Long Island Iced Tea and a Moscow Mule. Foods: Belgium Waffles, Swedish Meatballs, Greek Salad, Baked Alaska and Chicken Kiev.
Did you know the Ebola virus was named for the Ebola River?
This stuff is everywhere.
But here is one example that categorically proves just how important national distinctions are:
American Football is two teams of large men wearing helmets and extensive padding, playing a game with a ball, using a standard set of rules. Australian Football is a couple of street gangs in short pants, running around a pasture, trying to murder each other.
I rest my case!