For those of you that read the last post, Banjaxed, I wrote about Chicago & Ireland & made a pretty good point of how the Irish hate it when American’s claim to be Irish. It is fair, but it did get me thinking that, well, there are associations made when you travel. These associations are formed from a lack of knowledge & you can’t really place blame on anyone for them. You don’t know a place unless you have lived there & even if you have visited it, well, that is clearly not enough to make anything more than a vaguely informed analysis. I’m guilty myself.
I thought it would be fun to let you know what other people think of Americans, particularly Chicagoans, because the association game goes both ways & people often use them as the go to for conversation.
Let’s start with the weather, mainly because, well, this is Chicago but also because I spent a good amount of time in the last blog attacking American’s, on behalf of the Irish & the weather is the greatest cultural stupidity that the British Isles suffer towards America. The Irish & the British are notorious for this.
“Oh you’re from Chicago? I love the weather there; it’s always so nice & sunny.” Sometimes they will even ask if you had to buy warm clothes for the trip, usually only if you go there in the winter.
What? The British, the Scottish, & especially the Irish tend to associate all American weather with California. This is because of US movies & the fact that they hide their sun up there so it is sort of overcast a lot of the time & when it rains, it’s only a half-hearted rain. That is to say, I don’t think they have ever had a derecho. When it rains there, you can still walk upright.
Because of their weather & what they see on television, they assume that Chicago has California weather. Well, most of them do. One of their go tos, when you tell them you are from Chicago, is how much they like the weather there.
This is Chicago, I have literally seen it snow, then hail, & then become blisteringly hot & humid in a single day.
The reason for this is geographical. To the East of Chicago is a massive body of flat water. To the south of Chicago is a massive, & I mean an utterly massive amount of flat land. To the west of Chicago there is even more utterly flat land. To the north of Chicago are gently rolling greens, largely with no trees.
What this means is that weather patterns are hauling ass through Chicago, so you can literally get snow on the same day you get hot weather. It means that you can experience all four seasons in a single day. Well, European & East Coast seasons, well get to that later. The utter enormity of flat land means we get a lot of wind, & as the wind is not where we got our nickname, 30mph winds are still very common throughout the year.
The British & Irish will start bitching about the cold when it gets to about freezing (0 Europe). In Chicago, that’s still warm, freezing is considered warm & you are a pussy if you bitch about that. Now once we get the weeks of 30 below (-34 in Europe) that’s when Chicago starts complaining about the cold. It really doesn’t get that cold too often in the British Isles, certainly not for months on end & definitely not with thirty-mile-an-hour winds to top it off. They aren’t used to dealing with weather that will give you frost bite in under a minute.
They will start complaining when the weather hits 80 (27 Europe). That is the temperature Chicago enjoys for the one month in the spring before the summer hits & it’s 100-102 & humid every day (39 in Europe).
When you are from Chicago, the British Isles have great weather. You can deal with the lack of sun because it’s never really cold & it’s never really hot & the weather isn’t trying to kill you. It’s also stable, you can have one type of weather all day long, sometimes for weeks on end & it is always tolerable, that is to say, that when it rains it is usually not a torrential downpour with a ton of lightening, & you can use an umbrella & not worry about flight.
But they will tell you how nice they think the weather is in Chicago because when they watch it on their TVs it is not trying to murder them.
The French & Spanish go to the other extreme, to them, when you mention Chicago they associate it with winter. It’s just fucking freezing year round. They think Chicago is in Antarctica. This is because France & Spain have beautiful weather. You can’t fault them for their views on this, to them our winters are truly insane. They understand that the weather will do its best to kill them & their vision is not tainted by Hollywood.
I’m going to just skip the Dutch, because they just tend to have a more realistic grasp of geography than most Americans & Europeans. The German’s & Poles don’t count as they understand the cold & the heat that comes from being in the center of a continent. It’s just the wind they don’t understand, because Mountain winds are so much calmer than straight-line winds.
Now the guns (And we will give the Dutch another pass), the guns are an issue. It will be mentioned if you travel abroad to Europe. They all assume that all Americans are gun-nuts. We all own guns, we all carry guns, & we all shoot guns. They can’t get around the fact that, no, there are, in fact, a lot of Americans that will support a ban on fire-arms.
To be fair I do own a gun. It’s a Colt Army Revolver, it’s a family heirloom, it played a big part in American History, it is over 140 years old & it doesn’t work. My famous Irish grandfather used it to help tame the Wild West (to reference my Banjaxed post again). I don’t even think that they make ammunition for it anymore & its old enough where it is no longer considered a firearm.
I’m the type that will support a gun ban in the US. But I am also the type that will embrace a stereotype & milk that fucker for all its worth.
A lot of my friends will get defensive about this when they travel abroad. They will try to explain that not all American’s are gun-nuts. This is wrong. This is wrong because it is absolutely no fun.
I like to take a different route. I like to tell them that public buildings & airports have gun lockers that are free & used to lock the guns up when we enter buildings that we can’t legally carry them. We start taking gun classes in school at age 12, it replaces history. The American stereotype is already there, you’d actually be shocked how many Europeans believe that bull shit.
You’ll get a fair bit of anti-anti-gay backlash too, especially in the British Isles where Americans are assumed to all be homophobic. The Irish, who will talk about politics at the drop of a fucking hat, will blatantly demand to know what your problem with Gays is? Why don’t you support gay marriage?
They only get Fox News & the Daily Mail there.
It is not understood that the majority of Americans don’t care if you are gay or if anyone else is. The same thing goes for Bush, now that Obama is in office they will give you a pass, but when Bush was in office every American supported going to war & hated Mexicans & Islam.
Now I will fuck around with the gun thing, but do I feel inclined to apologize for Bush.
There is a lot of other shit too. Europeans think that everyone watches Friends. The French seem to think we all country line dance, which is cool, because they have embraced it themselves & you don’t want to burst their bubble when they obviously enjoy it so much.
The point is that everyone is an idiot abroad & everyone is an idiot when they talk to foreigners, even the people from Europe. That’s what happens when you travel. So when you do it, pop on your Chicago cap, travel on the cheap, & don’t give a fuck what the hypocrites think. We are all idiots abroad, the only difference is that everyone else has an accent & you don’t.