Why I Love Being An American

Our flag is cool. No weird colors or animals on it. Just the good old star and stripes.

I am an American and proud of it.  By that, I mean I’m glad to be an American.  I’m saying not that being American makes me superior to other nationalities, but I’d like to think it does.  Why?  Here’s why:

ENGLISH

We speak English.  English is the international language of business.  Plus, it sounds good.  Foreign languages sound like gibberish.  Have you ever eavesdropped on foreigners having a conversation?  It’s incomprehensible!  I recently overheard a couple of people speaking Japanese, I think.  I’m convinced they weren’t really saying anything–just making a bunch of sounds.

I come from strong German stock, but I wouldn’t want to speak German.  They always sound mad shouting in guttural grunts.  That’s probably why they’ve started so many wars.  If you said “Please pass the salt” in German, you could start a fight.  Some languages, like Hebrew, make you spit while speaking them.  Others, like Russian, sound evil.  English just sounds sensible.

Now, of course, the English speak English, but it’s a smarmy, stuck-up version–not like ours.  Plus they say things like “loo” and “lorry.”  That’s just weird.

English also looks more sensible.  Our vowels are A, E, I, O, U and Y (sometimes).  Here are the Korean vowels:

Korean vowels. Are these even letters? They’re more like a bunch of poorly drawn stick figures.

Good luck trying to work a crossword puzzle with that pile of emoticons for an alphabet.  Russian is even worse:

The Russian alphabet. It’s so screwed up that they have two “E”s and a frickin’ 3 included.

What can you say about this mess?  The Russians are fond of strong drink.  I can only assume that this was some drunk guy’s effort to copy the real alphabet.  “Awww, what the Hell? I’ll just throw in a number to fill it out!  No one will notice.”  One time in college, I was drunk and wrote a note to girl to apologize for vomiting in her sink.  It looked like the picture above (I mean the note, not the vomit).

Those are just two examples.  Other languages are just as bad, I’m sure.  Hungarian, for instance.  Here is the longest word in the Hungarian language: legeslegmegszentségtelenítetthetetlenebbjeitekként.  You know what it means?  “like those of you that are the very least possible to get desecrated.”  You don’t speak English, and that’s the kind of useless crap you go around saying. 

WARS

We’re the best at war.  We spend all most as much money on the military as every other country combined, but we win.  We’re the New York Yankees of warfare.  No one can touch our payroll, and we have the results to back it up, too:

  • Revolutionary War:  Win
  • War of 1812:  Win, but I don’t know whom we fought.
  • French and Indian War: Win.  I assume we fought in this.  We must have won. Otherwise, we would be French and would have surrendered in the rest of our wars.
  • Civil War:  Win (for most of us).
  • Spanish-American War:  Win
  • World War I:  Win
  • World War II:  Win
  • Korean War:  Win. Okay, technically we won.  The war isn’t really over.  They just declared a truce.
  • Vietnam War: Forfeit
  • Gulf War:  Win
  • Iraq War:  Win
  • Afghanistan War (or whatever they call it):  Winning.
  • Canadian War (planning stages)

Anyone would admit that is an impressive record.  This doesn’t even count our skirmishes like Grenada and Panama.  Even someone like me who has never been in the military and would be unfit to serve anyway can swell up with pride about our military.

SPORTS

American sports are just better.  Okay, I know that soccer is the most popular sport in the world.  Big deal.  We took soccer and it’s more violent cousin, rugby, and turned them into football.  Let’s see some Euro-trash do that.

Baseball is a vast improvement over the foolish looking game of cricket with its rounders and batsmen.  Basketball is all ours.  Invented here. Perfected here.

What have they given us? Soccer.  Bullfighting, maybe.  That’s it. Jai Alai? That’s only watched by degenerate gamblers.  Hockey? Hell, no Americans play it.

We’re better athletes than the rest of the world, too.  Eastern Bloc countries used to challenge us. The Soviet Union was a group of like 20 countries–no wonder they won a lot of Olympic medals.  Each on its own can’t match us.  Now, the East Germans (yes, kids, there used to be an East Germany) gave us massive she-male swimmers.  We could have done that, but we like our chicks hot.   And female.

East German mad scientists did this to their women in an effort to compete with Americans.

MONEY

American money is just better.  It looks like money.  That’s why it’s the international choice for business exchange.  Look at what other countries have to use:

The poor Albanians. I don’t even know if this is a lot of money, but wouldn’t you be embarrassed to pull this out at Walmart? It looks like it was drawn by a third grader.

Of course, dictators always mar their money:

It’s bad enough that Ghaddafi oppressed everyone. He didn’t even have enough respect for his citizens to use a decent picture. It looks like he just got out of the shower.

Our money has former presidents and other impressive dignitaries (with the possible exception of Salmon Chase) on it.  Plus, our One Dollar Bill has a weird, mystical-looking image on the back.

The freaky backside of the One Dollar Bill.  Note the foreign gibberish.

Some foreign money looks like napkins.  Some of it looks like old paper bags.  Ours is just much better.  Plus, it’s American.  Stuff  a 1 Dinar bill in a stripper’s g-string, and you’ll not only get ignored, but a bouncer will probably beat the bejesus out of you.

Finally, we have the $2 bill, greatest of all monetary denominations.  It’s worth two dollars, of course, but if you use one, look at the faces light up!  If you give a stripper a $2 bill she’ll dance for you all night, at least that’s what I’ve heard.

MUSIC

We invented rock ‘n’ roll.  And country music. Nuff said.  Oh, I know about Mozart and Beethoven and Bach and those other haughty composers.  But, we flat rock.  The rest of the world is still trying to catch up.

The British have made inroads in rock, of course, but they speak English.  Plus, when they sing, most of them do so without that goofy accent.  That’s counterbalanced by their shameful ending of Jerry Lee Lewis’s career.  Apparently, the Brits have a problem with someone marrying his cousin–unless that someone is called a Prince or King.  By the way, who had the number 1 single in the UK for 11 weeks in the 1950’s?  Slim Whitman, American.  That little record only lasted 36 years.

Australia and Scotland gave us AC/DC.  For that, we are forever grateful.  Beyond that, the rest of the world can’t say much.

There is one area where we failed miserably.  Christian Rock.  It’s like milk and Coca-Cola.  Separately, they are both excellent.  Combined, they’re awful.  Christian rock works the same way.  It’s like Soviet hair bands during the Glasnost Era.  It just doesn’t work.  We apologize for trying.

ENTERTAINMENT

Here’s what we have:

  • Sports (see above)
  • Music (see above)
  • Movies (no subtitles)
  • Tractor Pulls
  • Celebrities
  • Rodeos
  • NASCAR
  • Eating contests
  • TV (again, no subtitles)

Here’s what they have:

  • Goat-carcass polo
  • Royal Families
  • Hockey
  • American Flag burning
  • Telemundo (actually, it’s pretty good)
  • Incomprehensible Swedish films
  • Anti-American chanting
  • Vodka (Russia only)
  • Loathsome diseases
  • Civil war

I’ll admit that they hold their own in pornography (that’s what I’ve been told).  Otherwise, all our stuff is better.

EDGINESS

We’re edgy.  We’re like a neighbor who is a nice guy, always friendly, but you find out that he’s beaten the crap out of a bunch of people.  That’s us.  Nice people.  Generous to a fault.  Cross us, and we’ll kill you.  We’re like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino. Stay off our lawn.

We speak our minds, even if our minds are full things best kept quiet.  Right now, there’s great controversy over an anti-Islamic film made here in the USA.  We do that kind of thing.  We make insulting films. I watched a couple of clips of that movie.  Not since Manos The Hands of Fate has there been such a poorly made film.  We don’t care.  It’s controversial.  The Last Temptation of Christ is a great film, but it made people go nuts back in the 1980’s.  Fortunately, no one tried to kill Martin Scorcese for making it.

We have Nazis in the U.S.  Some countries have outlawed the Nazis but not us.  You can be a Nazi here.  Or a Communist.  Or a Socialist.  Anything.  You can start a cult or join an established one.  You can speak your mind about damn near anything.  If a bunch of tools want to protest at funerals, they can.  Of course, others of us might beat the crap out of them.  It’s the American Way.

Once you speak your mind, everyone else is entitled to get pissed off.  And we do.  We’ll yell right back at you. Now, we usually don’t go completely mental and attack each other.  Usually.

Who’s the only country to nuke another country?  U! S! A!  If you didn’t want nuked, you should have thought about that before you bombed our naval base.  That’s how we roll.  Think about this:  We didn’t want to be in WWII.  The economy was a wreck.  We didn’t have a fighting army or many weapons.  Less than four years later, we build a freakin’ atom bomb!  Stay off our lawn!

If it weren’t for us, they’d be speaking German in London right now and goose-stepping in front of Buckingham Palace.  Think about that.  What’s German for “lorry?” We kick ass and take names.  Why?  Because we’re edgy.

I AM AN AMERICAN

Mostly, I like being an American, because I am one.  I always have been.  I’m not a foreigner.  I also haven’t traveled to foreign countries.  Well, I did once.  I went to Mexico, and I got severe diarrhea.  That should tell you something.  Not that I haven’t had diarrhea in America, but that’s different.  It’s American.

In the great book, Catch-22, a character observes that there are 50 countries fighting in World War II and that not all of them can be worth dying for.  I agree.  Only America is worth that, but I must confess that I would hate to be put to the test on that one.  Of course, I’ll say it anyway.

There are other things I like about America–leggy supermodels, good candy, Waffle House, gas-guzzling cars and many other things.  It’s good to be an American.  At least I hope so, because that’s what I am.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

Why So Serious?

I’m a lawyer. I recently tried a case in which my relationship with the judge was, to put it mildly, contentious. During a break in the proceedings, the judge told me not to be “so grim,” because what we were doing was not “that serious.”  Of course, that was wrong. It was certainly serious for my client who was paying me. In the words of attorney Brendan Sullivan during the Iran-Contra hearings, I am not paid to be a “potted plant.”

Why so serious? It’s a serious world, my friends.

I suppose there are degrees of seriousness. If I lost that case, which I did, my family would still love me, the sun would shine and all God’s children would still be happy. Those things–true as they may be–don’t mean that other things mean nothing. When the judge ruled against me, I shook everyone’s hand, thanked the judge and then retired to the stairwell with my client. We both then spewed a long string of unprintable obscenities.

Was it a serious situation?  Yes.  Was it the end of the world?  Of course not.  Seriousness isn’t an all or nothing proposition.  Things can be serious with being dire.  For example, one can be seriously ill without being terminal.  Likewise, if one is rarely ill, any illness may seem serious at the time.  It’s all matter of perspective.

As I get older, my peers have become more serious.  They huff and puff and pontificate about the state of the world.  They criticize young people.  They criticize old people,  They bemoan the decay of society.  In other words, they are adults, and they act like adults.  That’s what adults do, you know.  They peer over their reading glasses with brows knitted and offer their take on everything.  And all it’s all serious.  Make no mistake; there are serious things afoot in this world.

“Politics is not a game. It is an earnest business.” Winston Churchill

These being the High Holy Days of politics with the Presidential election looming, we spew forth about politics like Mount Vesuvius.  On social media, in particular, the opinions are many and varied, but fall into five broad groups:

  • Those on the left who despise everything and everyone on the right.
  • Those on the right who despise everything and everyone on the left.
  • Those who despise everyone. Period.
  • Those who despise all those who post about politics.
  • Those who despise all those who don’t post anything about politics.

Politics is all serious all the time, of course.  I have been told numerous times that this is the most important presidential election in history.  An astute friend of mine suggested that just maybe the 1860 election was more important, given that we actually owned other human beings at the time.  To most of my peers, that minor historical event pales in comparison to whatever is chapping their rumps right now.

The reason for this, of course, is that we’re all alive now and weren’t around in 1860.  Surely, slavery wasn’t as bad as Barack Obama being a Muslim or Mitt Romney a tax cheat or whatever ever other bizarre theory one might embrace.  Even more rational concerns like the economy, national and endless wars have to be worse than anything any other generation has faced.

It’s not all that grim, of course.  I support Mitt Romney, but I’ve heard a lot of funny jokes about him.  It’s okay to laugh.  If he loses, the republic will survive.  It will.  It also won’t mean that I’m a lesser person.  Plus, I live in a state that has almost no influence on the outcome of the election.  Lighten up.  Life remains good.

“That which doesn’t kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.”  Mr. Crabs, SpongeBob Squarepants

Want to know about a serious time?  World War I.  It wasn’t a popular war.  You could be arrested for publicly criticizing the war effort.  It was The Great War.  The war to end all wars. Right.

It was also during the time of the Spanish Flu Epidemic.  So many people died of the flu that mass graves were dug in some cities to handle the dead–in the United States.  Stories were told of people starting to cough on trolley cars and bleeding out before they got across town.  Read the excellent book The Great Influenza by John Barry.  Serious stuff. They even had a catchy little poem for the Great Flu: There  was a little bug; It’s name was Enza; I opened the window; And influenza. I’m sure that it would be treated seriously if happened today, except we would waste out time trying to figure out which political party was to blame.  Be glad we don’t to deal with that stuff.

6,000,000 dead in 12 weeks. How would you like to wake up to this headline?

While it may be true that the great issues of the day must be sternly addressed, these aren’t the worst of times. Not by a long shot.  Read a history book.  There were a lot of times that really sucked.

“Old men declare war, but it is the youth who must fight and die.”  Herbert Hoover

Our country has been at war for 11 years now.  That’s some serious stuff, for sure.  It’s funny (not ha-ha funny) how people don’t talk much about that, except when someone wants to take credit for something good (which, by the way, rarely happens).  The United States entered World War II in December of 1941 and was done by August of 1945.  Even the Vietnam War didn’t last this long.

I suspect folks my age (50) don’t talk much about it because we don’t have much to say.  We are the No War Generation.  The draft ended before I turned 18.  Even if there were a draft, you could have avoided it if you were clever enough.  Even I had joined the military, the 1980’s was a decade of saber-rattling, not saber-drawing.

As a result, we don’t have a moral high ground from which to demand that young people go die for us.  We didn’t do it, why should they?  Of course, that ground isn’t so “high” for anyone, is it?  Have you ever noticed that folks who suggest that people go get killed rarely are at the same risk?  There’s also the sticky problem that we want them to die for Afghans or Iraqis.  It’s a messy, sad business.  We’d rather not talk about it.  The best can muster is “Support Our Troops” or “Pray for the Military” or other slogans that makes us feel better.

We take our wars seriously.

It’s good that we take great pains not to criticize our soldiers, even if we criticize our politicians. People dying is serious stuff, no matter the reason.  I suppose that some day we won’t kill each other over real estate, but that time isn’t upon us, yet.

“The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures.”  Earl Warren

Our sports are serious business, too.  When our teams win, we crow as though we actually played in the game. We are just slightly superior to those who cheer for the losers.  Wait…who am I kidding?  We’re VASTLY superior to those losers! We’ll post scathing insults on social media about opposing teams and their fans.  If our team loses, we’ll even insult our own team. Their losing has diminished our lives.  We are lesser human beings as a result.  I am as guilty as anyone with this.  I will be crestfallen because a bunch of men (or children) I’ve never met lose a game to a bunch of other strangers.  They’ve let me down, even though they don’t know I exist.  It all makes perfect sense to me.

Of course, there is the flip side of the sports fan coin is the sports-hater.  This person is the one who bemoans how seriously we fans take it.  Ironically, these folks take it just as seriously, but their seriousness is their hate of sports.  Usually, they are pseudo-intellectuals who are “above it all” and unable to understand knuckle-dragging sports nuts.  Here in Kentucky, they denigrate our state university for emphasizing sports, primarily basketball.  In their world, Kentucky–an impoverished state–would be an academic titan if only it would play intramural basketball.  I’ve never understood that argument and don’t care to.

My teams win and lose.  They aren’t my teams, of course.  It just seems that way.  When I feel the veins in my neck throbbing, I take a deep breath and say to myself:  “I have no influence over this.  Relax.”  Someday, that might just work.

“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.
It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”  Thomas Jefferson

I think we can all agree that this Jefferson was some kind of nut.  Nothing is more serious than religion.  We’ve turned much of the world into a graveyard fighting over it.  We will revise history to make religion more important than it ever was.  I know people who will sternly lecture others that our country was founded by a group of Christians, based on Christianity and that the U.S. is a Christian nation.  No amount of historical fact will change that view.

Consider the following:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries

What is your reaction to that?  Who said such craziness?  The Congress of the United States. In a treaty with Tripoli adopted without debate.  In 1799.  Just reading that language will make some people go nuts.  Can you imagine Romney or Obama starting a speech with  “The United States is not–in any sense–founded on the Christian religion….”  Goodbye White House.  Hello, Kevlar jumpsuit.

People believe what they believe.  So do I.  If you’re a missionary, go ahead work on changing minds.  Otherwise, chill.  Life goes on.

My point, if I have one, is that religion is serious business.  Our own nation has been attacked by religious fanatics.  History has had crusades, ethnic cleansing and genocide all in the name of religion.  It’s serious stuff.  Don’t joke about it–unless you have a sense of humor.  Look at around at His creation. God has a sense of humor, too.

“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.”
Bertrand Russell
As lawyer, I belong to serious crowd. In fact, there may be no group which takes itself more seriously. Why? Lawyers aren’t the coolest crowd in town. Many–most?–of us reached a level of newfound coolness when we became lawyers. No more having your lunch money stolen or being stuffed in lockers.  It’s Revenge of the Nerds, devoid of all humor.

Typical future lawyers enjoying their undergraduate days.

This isn’t to say that our jobs aren’t important.  Our clients face jail, monetary loss (or gain) and other issues which are of great importance to them.  For those of us who are litigators, any case we have might be the most important legal problem our client will ever have.

Even though the issues we handle are important, we too often translate that to mean that we are important.  Each case is referendum on our skills and worth as humans.  Lawyers also pride themselves on working long, thankless hours.  Ask a lawyer if he or she is busy, and you’ll get a diatribe about it–whether it’s true or not.  It is little wonder that lawyers have high suicide rates.

Sometimes, I want to do this in court. I usually don’t do it. Usually.

We’re not all that important, of course.  If I quit my job today, someone else will represent my clients.  Life will go on.  The same is true of all jobs.  So, lighten up.

I conclude this, as is my wont, without making any particular point.  Life is not, as folks my age would have you believe, a grim trudge to the grave.  Life is good, as they say.  They know more than I do.  The only thing that really matters is what’s going on at the moment.  The rest of it either already happened or may not happen at all.

So, take it easy.  Seriously.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012