Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Democracy on Aisle Ten (second try)

Not too long ago, I found myself in line at a convenience store getting ready to purchase “breakfast”, which consisted of a 32-ounce Coke and a pack of Ho-Hos. I realize my eating habits mirror those of a thirteen-year-old whose parents have left him home alone for the weekend for the first time, but what I did next would have made my parents proud. As I made the front of the line, I noticed a soldier standing a few paces back preparing to buy his breakfast – I can assure you, it was far more healthful than mine. When the clerk went to ring up my purchase, I motioned to the guy and said, “This and whatever the soldier’s having.” The young man walked up to me with his hand out and said, “Thank you, sir.” I could hardly look him in the eye – seeing a man with Ho-Hos crying is just what the terrorists want – and I said, “Thank you for our freedom!”

What makes us “Americans”? After a lot of soul searching (and a couple more Ho-Hos), I came to the conclusion that what makes the American culture so uniquely “American” has its roots in or association with the South. You go to the Northeast, and they have deep ties to Italian and Irish culture. In the Midwest, you have a lot of Polish and German influence. Latin America weaves itself solidly through the Southwest. And the West (read: California) has its origins from another planet. But the South gave us NASCAR and Elvis, Wal-Mart and Kentucky Fried Chicken – that’s America!

Do you want to know the real reason Abraham Lincoln was so adamant about not allowing the Southern states to secede? He knew that without the South, the country would have no identity – the resulting country would be known as “those ninnies who have no national identity”, or something like that.

In the wake of Sherman’s March to the Sea, the land was scorched and flattened. Popular belief is that Sherman’s plan in doing this was to assure the Confederate Army didn’t have anywhere to fall back and gain shelter and provisions. That was only a by-product of the March to the Sea. The real reason was to pave the way for Ted Turner (a northerner!) to start up CNN and open his cable superstation, TBS, bringing the world an endless supply of re-runs. Do you think it’s a coincidence that Coke’s headquarters are in Atlanta? Don’t be naïve!

Now, admittedly we have a rather kooky outlook on the rest of the world that doesn’t make a lot of sense. For example, we don’t think twice when our fellow citizens from one part of the country add an “r” to all words that end in “a” and drop the “r” at the end of other words and replace it with an “a” (example: Linder instead of Linda, Lobsta instead of Lobster), but when we hear some foreign tongues being spoken we think it all sounds like gibberish or a bunch of people who are really ticked off at each other all the time.

Also, we as Americans are very selective about what we deem as quality and how we talk about it. If something’s from France or Germany, it’s “imported”. That’s code for “classy”, which if my Latin serves me correctly is another word for “ridiculously overpriced”, or something like that. If it’s from somewhere else, we call it “offshore” and deem it as sub-standard. Using that line of reasoning, are we to assume the consumers living in those “offshore” countries are okay with buying crap?

Speaking of France and Germany, we really should be careful how we “value” their imports to us. There’s something off with both of them. Even today, the French just love Jerry Lewis – yes, he’s the same guy who has the telethon over Labor Day weekend who can’t ever seem to get his bow tie on his tuxedo clasped properly around his neck. And the Germans are absolutely ga-ga over David Hassselhoff’s music – he sings?

Another odd thing about our country is that the side that “won” the Civil War is known as the Yankees. In today’s vernacular, that means absolutely nothing because the only Yankees we know are a bunch of overpaid guys in pinstriped tights and black mascara (they say it keeps the sun’s glare down – ha!), and most of them aren’t even from this country and don’t speak English. Pass the fried chicken, the race is about to start!

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