Sunday, June 28, 2009
12 Things I've Learned in Europe
After a little more than a year and a half, my wife and I's time in London has come to an end. Before we head home though, she thought it'd be fun to say goodbye to this big, strange continent with gusto. And so, for about two weeks now, we've been drifting around Europe like a couple of aimless nomads getting sunburned and drinking crappy Coca-Cola Lights and buying large silk rugs that I have no idea where we'll ever put when we get home.
Along the way, either while sitting in airports or shuffle-walking through crowded museums, I've learned 12 things about myself, my wife and the world around me.
1. Pregnant women need to eat every four hours. At four hours and five minutes, things turn bad very fast.
2. When an airplane lands successfully, Middle Easterners offer a round of applause. The odd thing is, they seem to be doing it out of habit more than genuine appreciation. The expression on their faces is like when you're in a beige conference room singing happy birthday to a coworker for whom you feel complete indifference.
3. The world's manufacturers of deodorant record the vast majority of their sales in the United States.
4. Everyone in Europe smokes. Everyone. Yesterday I saw a toddler smoking. When I told him that cigarettes are bad for children, he gave me the finger and called me a stupid American. Come to think of it, though, he did have a mustache. Perhaps he was just a very tiny little man.
5. Speaking of pregnant women, when they're American and they're wearing expensive sunglasses, skirts and tank tops, they get a lot of attention while walking around predominantly Muslim cities.
6. The "Rat-Tail" haircut is making a comeback in continental Europe. The fact that President Obama's foreign relations team hasn't addressed this is a threat to our national security.
7. Regardless of the language presented, I am physically incapable of reading maps. My wife does not find this charming.
8. Women in Greece go topless at the beach. This makes it very difficult to get any reading done, particularly when sunscreen is being applied.
9. Having your novel rejected by every editor in New York while you're on vacation is just as depressing as it is when you are not on vacation.
10. I will likely never be too old to giggle like a child when I read or hear the phrase "duty free."
11. European men are somehow able to look pretty cool wearing capri pants. I, however, am not.
12. Taking exchange rates into account, a half-hour gondola ride in Venice costs roughly as much as a gently used 2007 Honda Accord.
See you July 11th, America!