Wednesday, February 05, 2003

They’re All Greek to Me

Yesterday, Mitch Berg, over at Shot in the Dark, ably anthropomorphized the pillars of Old Europe:

The various states of Europe seem to exhibit personalities that remind me of people I've known over the years: Germany reminds me of someone who did hard time for a wild youth, and is now very careful to obey the letter of the law - he doesn't want to go back in the joint. He makes absolutely certain that he's not screwing up in any way. France reminds me of a very smart person who was jilted by a spouse or lover early in life. Embittered, fading fast, but still kind of a control freak. Britain - the recovering alcoholic, doing well in his 12 step program.

Per usual, Mitch is right on the money. And his idea has got me thinking about my relations, acquaintances, and their remarkable resemblance to our friends on the Continent:

Luxembourg - that old woman who lived below me in a duplex I rented in college. She was cheerful enough, but the onset of dementia resulted in her forgetting my identity and not realizing I lived upstairs. When going down to get the mail, I'd see her warily peering at me through a crack in her door. Upon my turning to make polite conversation, she’d shriek and slam the door in my face.

The Netherlands - that cousin of mine who stopped attending family Thanksgivings and Christmases when he was 16 because, according to my shrugging aunt, "he had other things go do." I never saw him again, but occasionally heard rumors of drug use and petty theft.

Belgium - the guy I shared an office with during my first job out of college. He smoked a lot of weed and only showered once a week. When I expressed my objections to his foul body odor, he responded with the greatest example of postmodern moral relativism I've ever heard: "Oh yeah, well the smell of soap offends ME!"

Finland - the middle-aged, strange neighbor who I see in the summer mowing his lawn while wearing a bucket hat, t-shirt, Bermuda shorts, black socks and wingtip shoes. In five years of living next to me, he's never initiated a conversation or made eye contact with me. However, while puttering around his garage, he's often heard whistling the melody to Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds' "Don’t Pull Your Love Out."

Vatican City - Father Rowan, the priest at the parish I attended while growing up. Because he was Catholic and read the Bible and talked about Jesus and stuff.

With that last creative flourish, I think I better stop. (And in the future I vow to leave the national identity related similes to those more qualified).

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