bigjohn

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“If it’s Tuesday, this must be … “

Posted by Big John on January 20, 2007

When I visited the USA back in the 1970s I was always surprised by how little most of the Americans I met knew about what was happening in the rest of the world.

Most newspapers seemed to report only local news and I would ‘flick through’ the TV channels in a fruitless search for some news from Britain or Europe in general.

Of course a lot has changed since then with events such as the fall of the Soviet Union, 9/11, and the Iraq crisis helping to focus Americans’ attention away from their own shores.

turkey-1.jpgI well remember an event that helped to start this change, for I was visiting Turkey in the 80s and was sitting on the quayside of a small harbour where a cruise ship was docked.

I watched as two passengers came ashore. They were an elderly couple of  ‘old type’ American tourists. You know … loud check Bermuda shorts … white socks with black shoes … Hawaiian shirts … baseball caps (rare outside the US at that time) … and of course a collection of cameras hung around their necks.

They stopped near to where I was sipping from my glass of tea, as I sat among a group of heavily moustached locals who were smoking their hookahs and drinking their thick black coffees.  I saw them nervously glance our way before turning their attention towards the minarets and domesturkey-2.jpg which could be seen rising above the date palms. The sound of a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer could be heard echoing from a distant mosque and the sun caught the white crescent on a Turkish flag as it fluttered in the warm breeze.   

The elderly pair hesitated and seemed unsure whether to procede along the quay towards the town or not. The man chewed on his fat cigar and said something to his wife before they turned around and headed back towards the ship. They passed close to where I was sitting and to my astonishment I heard the woman say …

…  ” Well it sure looks like EYE-RAN “.

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7 Responses to ““If it’s Tuesday, this must be … “”

  1. Ginnie said

    Oh, it is so embarrassing to hear things like this about my fellow travelers from the United States. When I was in Italy with my friend in 2001 we could tell the Americans from all the others because they were usually much fatter and VERY LOUD! I was tempted to say that we came from Canada…or anywhere else except from the US. Now, the “Ugly American” conept is stronger than ever, thanks to our Emperor…er, Pres….Bush!

  2. Oscarandre said

    I am not sure what it is that makes some Americans so conspicuous overseas – they certainly do not have the monopoly on saying dumb things. But somehow you hear every dumb thing they say – maybe it’s jsut that we understand what they say, unlike Japanese tourists, for examole. I was at Pompeii a few years ago – the guide is explaining the advanced drainage system created by the Romans but speculates if the use of lead piping may have caused lead poisoning. One American turns to another and says, “Well, if they didn’t know lead causes poisoning, it’s no wonder they didn’t know how to escape a volcano.”

  3. ferouzeh said

    Well..I must add my “American tourist” and just for once take the American side: “mine” were two: I met them in Ravello in 1988 : two brothers taking dad (to whom they were very deferential) on a visit to his family roots: they were breeding horses in Virginia, were well spoken, well dressed, well educated one of them could read Latin and of course spoke French pretty well. The last thing they asked me was where they could buy GUCCI bags for their wives who were going to meet them in Rome and continue touring Europe.
    They come in all sorts: unfortunately there are too many of the other kind.
    On another topic….John ..please…I am dying to hear your comments on your current “national asset” Miss J Goody..though I can weel imagine what you think
    Keep well
    Feruz

  4. Terri said

    Well, I have to agree with both you and Ginnie….I see it in France ALL the time and it’s quite embarrassing. They’re way too loud in restaurants, they have a demanding demeanor about them, they’re just not a pleasant representative of my country.
    And I SO agree…it’s even worse now, with Bush at the helm making us all look like boobs.
    Loved this post….especially your punchline.

  5. Betty said

    Americans seem to be much louder and more aggressive. And, if my one trip to the UK is any example, we seem flashier, more loud colors. I took a red jacket with me and I realized I was the only one in red many times. However, I did it on purpose so my daughter could find me if we got separated in a crowd. I also noticed that people in the UK were much more polite, on the whole, than in the U.S.

  6. Big John said

    Ginnie – I once played host to two young Americans who had Canadian flags on their backpacks.

    Oscarandre – My favourite ‘dumb thing’ was an American passing the Wallace Memorial near Stirling who remarked “Gee that’s some memorial for a guy who wrote detective stories”.

    Ferouzeh – Sorry, but I thought enough had been written about ‘pig in a wig’ Jade. Sad to say, but you can meet a ‘Jade’ all too often in this country.

    Terri/Betty – I think Americans are a lot less noticeable these days hence my reference to ‘old type’ tourists. The only time I notice them is in restaurants when they seem to demand ‘instant indigestion’ and countless cups of ‘cawfee’. :-)

  7. Libertine said

    I’ve not been lucky enough to travel overseas, and I doubt if I’ll ever have the money to do so.

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