Chapter 10. America vs. Europe

We Europeans are hard to understand. When we live in Europe we spend most of our time highlighting our differences and hating each other, mostly based on economic and football rivalry but also based on silly stereotypes like the idea that the French smoke too much, Italians cheat too much, British drink too much, Germans are too strict, Spaniards party too much and are too lazy, etc. and then, miraculously, when we find ourselves on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, we become one happy family, united by one purpose: to criticize Americans.

We think they talk too loud, they are too casual, they don’t know how to dress, they don’t know anything about wine, they don’t know how to eat, how to cut their food,  how to enjoy life and the dolce fare niente (yes, we do that quite well), how to be spontaneous, etc. We are masters of all the wonders of life and they are lucky to have us around so they can add a bit of dijon mustard to their lives. Yes, European Union miracles happen abroad and the fact is that when we are in the US we become more proud of being European than when we are in Europe. We help each other out, we socialize a lot a find the many things that makes us similar. We take any opportunity that we have to stand out as a more sophisticated race.

Yet, unconsciously we are learning more about our own nature than ever before, we are profoundly changing out DNA, we are become more self assured, more confident, more independent. American attitude is contagious and it changes you for life.  If you are a woman you will no longer be able to cope with the sexist realities of Southern Europe, you will live by new standards and will have new expectations that poor European men will never bee able to meet when you get back home. This makes dating Southern European crocodiles and dealing with their mothers even more challenging.

What do you mean that your mother still buys your socks, your underwear and your favorite cold cuts and snacks?  What do you mean that you have asked your mother to come to our house to give directions to our cleaning lady on how to do the house chores? How do you make a European crocodile understand that sometimes a date must be a date and not a  “let’s go of a beer” and turn it into a casual “tapas” dinner surrounded by other friends whose presence is not welcome nor expected?

For the most part European crocodiles think that they can afford a belly, wear sneakers to the restaurant when you are dressed to the nines (with make up and hair done) because they think that their sole crocodile presence should be more than enough to please you.

But going back to the cultural aspects.

When we are in the States Europeans suddenly look for each other to hang out, we join European groups and behave more French, Italian, Spanish etc. than ever. This phenomenon probably happens whenever European expats gather abroad in other parts of the world too. I think that I made more paellas and tortillas in one year in the States than in my entire life. Similarly, my French girlfriends would buy baguettes (they probably buy bagels in Paris) and display the most impressive champaign, cheese plates and silverware that you could think of whenever they had you over for “l’aperitif”.

Prince Charming used to say that he enjoyed the European dolce vita and the Spanish temperament and lifestyle. I don’t blame him, I think that even Woody Allen would make a very entertaining movie if he met us. Spanish women are always portrayed as powerful, intense and flaky in the movies. The problem with drama is that when you are close to it, as it happens with fire, you can get burnt.

I am thinking about getting a Jeep. I’ve had enough of these tiny European cars.

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