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on the Road!
Its the culture, stupid
by Mad Dog
Sometimes the cultural differences arent
as wide as you think they are. Take France. Go ahead, no one else wants it.
|| People in other countries arent like us. This is whats commonly
called a mixed blessing. On the one hand we can take pride in the fact that we didnt
come up with the concept of eating raw fish, idolizing Jerry Lewis, or dancing to a band
which features tuba-players in leather shorts. Then again, we have Reeses Peanut
Butter Puffs cereal, Pauley Shore, and Marilyn Manson. See what I mean?
that separates us from other cultures is how we treat out children. Especially when we
have them seven at a time. In Iowa, technically a part of the United States even though
the rest of the country denies it, the media recently swarmed around the McCaughey family
when they brought the last two of their septuplets home from the hospital so they could
finally begin their Endorsement Tour 98.
that with the couple in Saudi Arabia who was threatened by the hospital because they
wouldnt take their septuplets home when asked. The wife said she wasnt ready
to take care of the babies. The husband, well, he reportedly has two other wives with nine
other children so hes probably just too tired to care for the seven new ones.
the cultural differences arent as wide as you think they are. Take France. Go ahead,
no one else wants it. Everyone knows the French cook the best food. After all, it is the
home of the Cordon Bleu, Escoffier, and Julia Childs formativeor
snailyears. Now it turns out that 71% of Frenchmen surveyed said their favorite food
ishold onto your beretsteak-frites. For those of you who dont parlez
vous Français, thats steak and French fries.
that sounds exactly like the good old U.S. of A.," youre probably saying. On
the surface, yes. But it turns out we prefer our beef a little more well done. Like dried.
Last year over $859 million worth of meat snacks were sold in this country. Meat snacks,
in case youre not up on the latest processed food-like product terminology, is a
category that includes jerky, Slim Jims, and rawhide chew bones when consumed by adults
who mistake them for their aunts Thanksgiving turkey drumstick. Amazingly, more meat
snacks were sold last year than microwave popcorn, though the popcorn stunk up the
hallways more, if you can believe that.
It turns out that what the Vietnamese really meant to say was, theyre serving cats.
countries, the term meat snack has a whole different meaning. In Vietnam, for example.
Over there the hot food trend in Hanoi is restaurants that specialize in serving
"little tiger" dishes. Having been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in
euphemismsright alongside "not an improper relationship" as a way of
saying oral sexit turns out that what the Vietnamese really meant to say was,
theyre serving cats. While this hasnt prompted the Hanoi McDonalds to
start serving McGarfield sandwichesyetit has caused widespread crop
destruction because all the catnapping has allowed the rats to flourish, who end up eating
the rice and cereal crops. The solution? The government is now promoting rat as the
"Other Little Tiger Meat."
Meanwhile in England, they obviously dont care about food.
Just stop in any English restaurant and youll find out for yourself. Besides, they
have other problems to worry about. You can tell because a quarter of a million people
recently turned out for a political protest, the largest in nearly a decade. The reason? A
move by the government to force British men to wear bowler hats and carry umbrellas
whenever an American tourist is within 50 feet.
kidding. Actually the real reason is sillierthe House of Commons (the Monty Python
of governing bodies) is considering banning fox hunting. In all fairness, not all of the
marchers were there for that reason. Some were protesting the governments ban on
selling beef on the bone due to the threat of mad cow disease. Others were protesting a
proposal that would make it legal for people to walk on private property. Still others
were American tourists scouring the Hyde Park sidewalks for half-eaten Slim Jims.
Madame Alexander is putting out the Psycho doll, complete with a Bates Motel towel and a
shower curtain with the shadow of Mama Bates herself. Really. Like its not hard
enough to get kids to take a shower as it is.
Back here in the U.S. we
take out protests a little less seriously. We come inches away from bombing Saddam Hussein
back to his country cottage and what do we do? A few hundred people turn out in a handful
of cities to protest. What do you expect from a country where 40% of the under-30 crowd
gets their political news from late night talk show monologues?
is different in other countries. In Russiawell, actually in outer
spacetheyre using cosmonauts to sell surplus, overstocks, and factory
imperfects from their space program. Kind of like an orbiting Goodwill. Broadcasting live
from the Mir spacecraft, the cosmonauts hawked such hard-to-find items as Mars rocks
encased in plastic cubes (after all, it is the "red" planet) and three
Russian-made spacesuits just like the ones worn by the Mir astronauts whenever
theres an accident on board. As in, always. In the spirit of glosnost, the new-found
capitalists held this sale on our American-owned home shopping network, QVC. Eat your
heart out, Joan Rivers.
the United States we wouldnt think of selling spacesuits. We prefer educational toys
that will help ensure the future of the youth of our country. Thats why Madame
Alexander, the last American manufacturer of handcrafted dolls, is putting out the Psycho
doll, complete with a Bates Motel towel and a shower curtain with the shadow of Mama Bates
herself. Really. Like its not hard enough to get kids to take a shower as it is.
hard to believe Mattel, Americas favorite manufacturer of mass produced dolls made
in countries that dont have a minimum wage, didnt think of this first. All
theyre releasing this year is stuff like WNBA Barbie (so the young boys wont
be the only ones who dribble), Tie-Dye Barbie (nitrous oxide containers extra) NASCAR
Barbie ("Pop the clutch and watch her feet go thirteen feet in the air!"), and
X-Files Barbie, which comes with Ken dressed as Mulder and Midge as the Cigarette Man.
these lessons when youre traveling. Or when you meet someone from a foreign country.
Instead of being a typical American and asking them if haggis really tastes like chicken,
offer them a piece of beef jerky and a handshake. If theyre smart, maybe
theyll take your hand.
©1998 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. In
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