Let me peep a scenario to all of you. You are in a foreign land, potentially betraying your American roots by using money without Alexander Hamilton's gangsta rapping face on it to purchase an ice cream like substance that is not called "ice cream" for no discernible reason, just walking around the town square in order to get a feel for the culture of a place that Benito Mussolini ensured will never have your complete respect. You are downing pizza. You are chugging 40 ounce bottles of Peroni like you are a homeless alcoholic who somehow developed taste for Italy’s finest, and only, beer. You are trying your damndest to just fit in and not stick out like the sore thumb you are as your wipe your boogers on the side of a church built in 1237.
After spending several seconds in this rail thin position the mother reaches your location, as you continue to cling to the brick hoping her stroller doesn’t run over your big toe and cause you to yell “Son of a WHORE!!” as loud as you possibly can in this crowded Italian square. She passes and you nod your head in acknowledgment. The woman in turn looks at you as she walks by, and, in heavily accented English, says “Thank you sir,” before going on her way and eventually taking her child out for the Italian version of a light lunch, aka 4 different pastas served with 4 different cream sauces at 9:30 P.M.
Thank you sir? Thank you SIR!! One, sir is my dad’s name, and I only call him that when I am trying to kiss his ass and convince him that it’s perfectly normal for parents to buy their 28-year-old child a trampoline that would fit in the unfinished basement of their apartment building. Two, why are you speaking English to me trick? We are in Italy. I am dressed stylishly in dark sneakers and a Henley with only 14 or 15 visible grease stains on it. I took Rosetta Stone Italian for long enough to tell you that I am cold or ask you where I can buy some cheap sheep’s milk.
Why does everyone in this entire nation assume I am an American? My size? My undeniable charisma? The fact that I own a pair of socks with James Madison’s face stitched onto them? At this point I am not certain. At this point I am determined to find out. At this point, the point several weeks after my trip where all I have done is reflect on my behavior in the "Old Country," the list below represents the totality of my best guesses as to the reason why my Americanness stood out.
6 Ways To Seem Like An American Abroad
1) Be A Large Person: Everything in Europe is smaller than everything here in America. The people. The animals. The public toilets. The compassion for men and women who are constantly hitting their heads on the entryways to said public toilets. It’s almost as if Italy is a country that doesn’t put copious amounts of HGH in their infant’s baby food in order to make sure that they are slightly better at high school football than they would be otherwise. It’s almost as if Italy is filled with infants about whom no one cares.
Luckily my parents did care about me as an infant, which is why I was named honorable mention all ABC League as an offensive tackle my Junior year, but I digress. The point is that I am large. The point is that I stood out in a very conspicuous way when compare to the average Italian, who came up to maybe my belly button and was technically ineligible to ride one single rollercoaster at Six Flags Great America. The point is that when you physically cannot fit in a convenience store without throwing a rack of Post Cards into the street because no one has bought one of them in 100 years anyways, then you are bigger than the average person occupying said convenience store. That is just science folks. And, as Ted Cruz one told me, science never lies.
2) Get Super Confused By Foreign Currency: You know what the trickiest thing about Euros is, besides the fact that they look like monopoly money and have never been used in a cocaine transaction ever? Their $1 (or 1 Euro) bill is not a, uh, bill. The 1 Euro piece is a coin, like a Sacagawea dollar but without a badass Native America on it. Now, I love Sacagawea dollars, but imagine buying all of your Dollar General purchases with a gold coin? Your pocket would jingle without control every time you walked down Jefferson to acquire the finest knockoff Kleenex money can buy.
In Europe my pockets jingled incessantly, as I constantly forgot about the coins I was amassing and stacking deep into my pockets when purchasing a beer that costs 3 Euro with a bill that was worth somewhere between 20 and 750 Euro. In America coins are, literally, worthless. In Europe coins matter. Not realizing this is the easiest way to end up in Dulles International Airport with $14.44 worth of European currency setting off the metal detector in the most confusing denomination possible. Not realizing this is the easiest way to get Italians to mock you as you waddle down the street trying your hardest not to allow your pants to fall down to your ankles due to the sheer amount of metal, and ironically not inconsequential, currency you have lined them with.
3) Speak the Language Terribly: If you’ve ever heard me say “arrivederci” then you know that I sound like Brad Pitt’s character in Inglorious Basterds attempting to speak Italian with a mouthful of Boston Market mashed potatoes. If you’ve ever heard me say “arrivederci” to an Italian citizen, then you know that I am telling them goodbye because they offended me by not carrying Gatorade in their grocery store. C’mon man. You run a grocery store and you don’t carry Gatorade? That’s like running a bank and not providing your customers with free cookies. Because my bank provides me with free cookies. That’s the only reason I put up with the $40 monthly fee they charge me for an in-house baker. Remember that Bernie Sanders, next time you try to take cookie time away from me ya jerk.
4) Understand American Sports: At one point in Rome I was standing next to the Trevi “Chase” Fountain (hahaha…hilarious) eating one of the 4 pieces of pizza I had just bought which I thought featured pepperoni, but instead, I discovered, featured prosciutto because I am rich and pepperoni is for poor people who live in Canadian trailer parks. Anyways I was scarfing down my za and tossing 3 dollars worth of Euros into the fountain in order to wish for the power to do meth with Andre Agassi every other Monday during the brief period of time each year where neither the Bachelor or Bachelorette is being televised when a small fella walked up to me and tapped me on the back.
“Hey,” the dude said to me in understandably accented English. “How about the Golden State Warriors?” I thought about his question for a second. How about the Golden State Warriors? I don’t know. They are really good at basketball? Steph Curry’s daughter should be forced to follow the “LaRoche method to childhood development” and stop going to school in order to travel around to our nation’s maximum security prisons, giving speeches to the inmates in order to melt the evil in their hearts and gain more wisdom about life than she could ever acquire in one of them daggum mathmatical classes in the first place? Draymond Green and I once did molly at an Alanis Morisette concert in the 4th greatest dream I’ve ever had?
I said none of this. Instead I look into the tiny man’s eyes and replied with a simple: “Yeah, they’re pretty good huh.” The microscopic gentleman nodded his head in agreement and self-satisfaction before walking away. I scratched my head wondering why this bloke felt the need to randomly ask me a 5 word question about a NBA team I am in no way affiliated with. I then went back to eating my pizza and staring at all of the penises on all the statues in Rome, aka “the city of 20,000 dicks.” Nickname trademarked by The Sack Artist, LLC.
5) Seem Surprised By Toilets With No Seats On Them: The first time I came across a seat-less toilet, I was in a bathroom of a store that sold $335 pairs of shoes on the upper portion of the Island of Capri. I had just endured an hour long boat ride hungover as F, and a 12 minute bus trip that lead me to believe that said auto carriage I was riding in was going to barrel off of the rails and roll thousands of feet down into the sea on at least 112 different occasions. Needless to say my stomach was far from settled. Needless to say, Anna Capri was about to be added to the “defecated there” map on my Twitter account.
The problem was that this swanky ass store apparently hadn’t sold enough Cole Haan knocks off to afford the top part of the toilet that allows men and women of every nationality to sit down and take a load off in the luxury, a right given to every citizen who is not forced to use the bathroom in Washington Square Park. So while I squatted down and did my business, I thought about what makes a first world country and decided that it came down to two things and two things alone.
1-Is there a seat on your toilet? And, 2-Regardless of the seat situation, are you confident in your patron’s ability to use the toilet without an instructional guide telling them not to stand up while pooping? If the answer to both of those questions is not yes, than Americans are going to bitch about your nation in their internet blog. If the answer to both of those questions is not yes, then you, my foreign friends, are doing something wrong.
6) Wear an NRA Sponsored T-Shirt: I did not do this, but I would, not because of my political beliefs on the second amendment…but because I have always wanted to own a tee with Charlton Heston’s face on it. Welcome to the American stereotype. We are huge. We love guns. Charlton Heston is on our t-shirts. If you live up to even some of these expectations, Europeans can tell who you are. If you are a big person without a love for guns, Europeans can still tell where you come from.
Italy is a great place. Outside of my experiences attending WWE events, I had the best time of my entire life there. However, as great as it was, Italy was not my home. America is, and it always will be. That much was obvious to the woman pushing her stroller through the street, the woman who knew just by looking at me exactly what language to excuse herself in. The woman who knew just by looking at me that I was no native son.