November 22, 2011 - posted in sundries
I was reading these fun observations about American culture as perceived by non-Americans living here:
“What Are America’s Quirks?”
Some recurring themes:
– Americans are blatantly religious, nationalistic, hard-working, polite, and still a little Puritan
– EVERYTHING HUGE!
– American customer service is superior (really??)
– Everyone is terrified of medical bills (we had some recent first-hand terror with this)
But this one made me think of something:
“When Americans kid one another, they will wait a few seconds and then let the kidee know that they were just kidding. Every time. This shocked me for a while.”
That’s an interesting observation, but I don’t know… it hasn’t been my experience at all. Growing up, no one in my family ever said when they were kidding. There was almost never a wink. (My wife’s family is similar). The word “kiddee” above is appropriate– the dry humor could be very confusing when you were little. But much appreciated once you were in on it.
To me, it was wonderful to be trusted to figure out the joke on your own. It made it yours. It made you feel respected. It taught you to parse everything people said very thoroughly– there was treasure everywhere. It also made you intolerant of ever being talked down to by grown-ups (or newscasters, or advertisers…)
My grandmother is the best at this. I don’t know anyone who can work little twists into the conversation so gracefully. She can tell you exactly what she means without even saying it. She can use the verbal negative space. It’s so rich.
That’s what I’m thankful for.
Growing up, we had humor. We had the fun of expressing love and respect through teasing.
So Happy Thanksgiving, America, you gonzo-religious, gun-stroking, truck-humping, flag-flailing, no-vacation-taking, broke-ass, fat, drunk sons of Jefferson! ♥