When The Chips Are Down

One of the things that has always puzzled me when our current mavens (Aristos is such a difficult word to type) go on is their obsession with skin color or gender or whom you are attracted to.

When the chips are done, none of that matters.  When the chips are down, humans go tribal, and when humans go tribal they couldn’t care less about that kind of thing.   When the chips are down, nobody cares if cousin Henry’s mother came from a line that was hereditarilly likely to hold a tan.  He’s still cousin Henry.  When the chips are down our women are our women and d*mn it, our women stay with us.  They might still care if cousin Henry is what Southerners used to call “A little funny” – but only because in our culture that has an implication of un-manliness, and in a threatening situation you wouldn’t want them there to think we’re a soft mark.  Only, let cousin Henry be bigger and brawnier, and pound his chest harder than the other warriors, and they’ll go “He’s a little funny, but he beat someone’s head in last week, so shut up.  He’s cousin Henry.”

It is only if the stress goes on very long, and if you have no hope of getting out of it, that you start purging your own numbers, but at first shock, you close ranks not by race, not by age, not by gender and not by orientation: you close ranks by culture.

How do I know this?

Well, I was an exchange student from July of the year I turned eighteen (so when I was still seventeen) and up through May of the year I turned nineteen.

Don’t pfui me.  There is stress in that situation.  There is also a great mingling of nationalities, races and cultures, and a great opportunity to sit and observe.  (Yes, you could say I had the first sight and the second thoughts.  I was a baby writer.  Who do you think Pratchett is really describing when he goes on about witches?  At least on the perception part.)

You take a bunch of sixteen to nineteen year olds, at the age of greatest social insecurity, you uproot them completely and you throw them into a vast group (there were 2000 of us from all over the world for the two or three weeks of orientation in NYC) and you make them comingle.  Whether you mean to or not, you traumatize them and you pull the rug out from under their feet.  (I remember one of my colleagues being asked by some minor reporter what she thought of American boys, and trying to answer “Well, really, to know what they’re like you have to know how well they talk, and I don’t talk well enough myself to judge.”  By which she meant the … markers of Portuguese courting which involve status markers through language weren’t there, and she didn’t know which markers to use.  That’s a minor example.  All the Portuguese were in distress, too, being used to six meals a day and getting only three.)

The first thing I noticed was how little mingling there was outside nationalities, PARTICULARLY with Americans.  Keep in mind we were chosen because we wanted to spend a year in the US, away from our families, learning about US culture.  We were, in fact, all of us, chosen for xenophilia.

And yet, when you got us in a group that contained some of our “people” we clung to them.  More, when there was socializing outside the group it was with similar cultures.  First, came the colonies of that nation, no matter how long ago they separated and NO MATTER WHAT THE SKIN COLOR of the people was.

People from Senegal gravitated towards people from France and vice versa.  Portuguese hung out with Brazilians (this was before the cold war ended, so we had no students from Mozambique or Angola.  I’m sure we do now, and that they gravitate towards Portuguese students.)  You’re going to say “well, that’s a linguistic thing” – yes, of course, to an extent, and I do think the reason that the Latin contingent in general was more likely to cling together is that English is taught late and often VERY badly.  (I lucked out, and it was pure luck, and had THREE excellent teachers, or I would not be where I am now.)

But it’s not all linguistic.  As I noted before, Spanish speakers can’t understand Portuguese at all – and no, I’m not buying the phonemes thing.  Sorry. They also refuse to understand WRITTEN Portuguese, while any Portuguese can figure out written Spanish.  Besides, continental Portuguese (unlike Brazilian) is a “flat” language.  It sounds like a language spoken by deaf people.  So it’s not the tones – BUT after the colonies and the same-language countries, group clung to “culturally similar.”

Let me explain – after that big group, they broke us up into groups going to our region, then more again, into groups going into a small area (my area included about ten small cities around Akron OH.  Cleveland was another area.)  Then periodically – Christmas break, Spring Break – we were shipped elsewhere and got together with other areas, so I got to watch several reshufflings.  If the Portuguese-speaking group (or the Spanish speaking group) was too small, they aggregated.

The same happened to other cultural and culturally “similar” groups/ex colonies/etc.  Germans and Swedes tended to gravitate together, for instance.

I’m weird here.  I tended to gravitate mostly to Americans and then to … whoever was nice.  My best friends that year were a British girl and a Japanese girl.  But perhaps I’m not so weird – more on that later.

However, during my year in Ohio I loved visiting my family’s best friends, who were Cuban.  I loved it because they did things (stupid things, like wash dishes) in the way my family did, which was comforting, in the middle of strangeness.

And sometimes the “feels familiar” goes back very far.  Gallicians from Spain hung out with the Portuguese by preference.  Yep.  All one province under Rome… how long ago?  But they’d rather cling to Portuguese – under stress – than to Spaniards.  There was something to the gestures and the body language, and the food preferences that brought you together.

Later on, while in Portugal, I found that American expatriates and I clung together despite political, social and other differences, because we were under stress (shuddup) and therefore the other felt comforting.  Heck, I liked the way the consul’s home SMELLED because they used American products to clean.  And one of my professors and I formed a friendship based entirely on watching the A team, something I’m sure we’d never have watched that religiously, otherwise.  But it reminded us of home.  (Yes, I’m a messed up chick.  Take a number.)

Also after I returned to Portugal I got to watch groups of foreign students coming through, and observe the same stuff.  They didn’t really want to hang with Portuguese. They clung to “sibling” culture groups.

Except… Americans.  Americans would interact with Portuguese with a will (and sometimes with both feet.  That poor American boy whom we made repeat the sentence “I need some batteries” over and over again…  And he had no clue why.  [For those who don’t speak Portuguese, batteries are pilhas, the lh pronounced palatal and not like the dental l.  Most Americans can’t make that sound and therefore mangle words like Silhouette.  Well, the poor guy couldn’t.  So he kept telling us he needed pilas – think on it, it will come to you.  Think slang and some legionaires’ dirty joke] – which when you’re still in your teens is irresistibly funny.)

Anyway, Americans were these gonzo people, trying to interact with everyone.  If you assume that Heinlein had turned my upbringing American enough that I was sort of Proto-American, my wanting to mingle as a kid in America was perfectly normal.

The exception to the Americans who went outward, to everyone, was the exquisitely (in retrospect) Patrician chick from California, who looked down her nose at Portuguese, demanded all vegetarian food, and once ate the roses off some poor lady’s garden (for shock value, I imagine, though she might have been that weird.)

Are Americans still like that?  I don’t know.  It’s been thirty years since I was involved with exchange students.  I think they might be more like the crazy chick from CA.

BUT – very important but – I think this is why our mavens are so against assimilation and tend to decide that culture is race and wanting you to change your culture and become American is racist…

You see, the last thing they want is We The People united against them.  And since they intend to inflict stress and pain on us, on the way to their Earthly Paradise (where 90% of us will be dead) this is a grave risk.  So they intend to keep us in insular little groups according to the countries we or our ancestors came from.  They can they play us against each other, and pretend to save us from each other.

Don’t let them.

I’ve never introduced myself as Portuguese-American.  I renounced previous allegiances when I naturalized.  Yes, of course, my origins are Portuguese, and it shaped a lot of my thought.  So it’s not like I hide that I grew up in Portugal.

But when the chips are down, I know who my tribe is.

My name is Sarah A. Hoyt, and I’m an American.

210 thoughts on “When The Chips Are Down

  1. That bit about “All the Portuguese were in distress, too, being used to six meals a day and getting only three” makes the Portuguese students sound like hobbits

        1. When I’d been diagnosed as hypoglycemic, before the diabetes, I was told to eat six meals a day — breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, nighttime snack. Those were to be TOTALLY sugar-free (extremely difficult to do), and no more than 1800 calories. My body needs about 2000 calories a day just to function, but it took me eight years to convince a dietitian. I lost about twenty pounds doing that. I do NOT look healthy at 190 pounds (the Air Force wanted me at 185, but that wasn’t possible).

    1. Weirdly, there is a mid-morning meal, a mid-afternoon meal and a snack between that and a very late dinner. I know this sounds insane, but that was the part that was driving me up the walls. I was STARVING.

      1. Doesn’t sound insane to me at all – it’s amazing how “small” things like hunger, or indigestion, even a paper cut can dominate everything else.

      2. My trainer told me that human metabolisms work most efficiently when fed every two to three hours. We avoid the feast/famine cycle that way, so our bodies don’t try to hoard calories. Seems to’ve worked given that I’ve dropped about 40 pounds and kept it off while eating six (small) meals a day. Gotta minimize the carbs of course.

        1. I find that this is true for me, too. A friend of mine will point out the exact time when I start to flag… and urge me to eat something so I will be interesting again.

        2. The paleo diet people are advocating a different approach: eat lots of protein (which the intestines absorb rather slowly), so that by 2-3 hours later, the food is still moving through your digestive system and your body’s natural feedback mechanisms tell you “You don’t need to eat again just yet, I’m still working on what I’ve got.” At least, that’s how I understand the biochemistry of it, with my very much NON-medical background.

          It would be interesting to see a study contrasting these two approaches (there high-protein meals a day vs. six small meals a day), and see which one provides the best health benefits. Anyone know of such a study?

  2. Brava, Sarah! I wish all Americans were as American as you. ^_^

    I’ve also noticed all those people who are so against assimilation, and are so eager to group people by ethnicity, who extol “embracing diversity” seem to be pretty un-diverse themselves. So many of them are all white (and a certain type of white), plenty of women, yes (but again, a certain type of woman), and then one token person to represent the ethnic view.

    1. And that token person “to represent the ethnic view” never dare say anything contrary to the group consensus.

    2. I finally got annoyed with hyphenated Americans so I started to call myself a Viking-American. lol At least in certain books I have been reading lately, viking is a verb as to go viking. Yep I would enjoy going Viking on their *sses.

      1. That’s awesome. Any objections to me doing the same? My ancestry is mostly Northern European and I have a Danish great-grandmother so I’m pretty sure there are actual Vikings in the family tree.

        1. Danes– had a lot of Vikings and were the start of the Norse expansion which is why the Dane and Norwegian kingships have such competition. (They used to steal each other’s fountains –these things are huge). I have both Dane and Norwegian lines–

          Which is the long way of saying– sure thing… the more the merrier. 😉

        2. Before the Vikings were a’viking, there were the Picts, who also settled in Scotland, Ireland, Germany… and pretty much all over Europe. They did the raiding and… other things that begin with ‘r”… such as “Arrrrh!”, but they also created an empire of trade before they were pushed back by the Romans. So they could qualify as vikings too. But hey, you come by it honestly through the Danes, so there you go!

          If people ask you if you are part Cherokee, the Picts and Cherokee come from the same genetic stock. I am not a genetic anthropologist, but if I say that, one just appears. Cool, huh?

            1. Here, too… I got it through my mother’s father {MacDougall} and even more through my grandmother’s family from Germany. (We fled the formation of the Weimar republic– FOR THIS??) Though you have to look through photo albums to see the pict in our branch of the Macs– they take locally more after the Dane/Celt side of the family.

      2. Sadly, this is not a solution available to all. As a Judeo-American I get accused of having dual loyalties (at best; just ask our incoming SecDef) unlike, for example, if you suggest that Chicano-Americans who identify as members of la Raza and are offended by High School chants of “USA, USA, USA” might be less than fully committed to the United States you will assuredly be denounced as a a raaaaacist.

        1. I’ve been tempted to make a chart of all the similarities between the average NPR commentator (like the one who was outed by Project Veritas) and Nazis – you know: wants an all controlling socialist state – check; pro-censorship (as long as they get to do the censoring) – check; anti-Israeli – check …

          1. To be attack-our-own fair… most groups are OK with censorship as long as they’re the ones doing it. (Possibly all, if you’re working outside of theory.)

            1. My First Amendment prof told the class a story … it occurred back in the 70s, when the Reds were feelin’ their oats and had walked in on an Econ class, threw the teacher into the hall and proceeded to deliver a lecture on “Economics,” their version.

              The police came in, and my professor thought it would be an interesting exercise to attend their hearings. Sitting in the courtroom he struck up a conversation with a Red watching his kamerads’ trials. This person told my professor that when they took over, “All speech will be allowed; we believe in freedom of speech!”

              My professor thought about this a moment, then asked if speech critical of Communism would be allowed, eliciting the reply: “Oh no; under us only responsible speech will be allowed!”

              The test of free speech is its willingness to allow irresponsible speech, even hate speech, so long as it does not directly incite violence. Most of us who advocate for that are not called upon to test our commitment to the principle, for which we should all be profoundly grateful.

              The fact we have not been tested does not mean we should not politely call others to account when they violate the principle. It just means we should eschew sanctimony when we do so.

              1. Need a word that means “try to censor the existence of an idea”… of course, Once Upon A Time folks could figure out that trying to proposition kids is different than proposing a flat tax, even if it’s hard to explain why, much as it’s hard to explain why water is wet….

              2. “Come the revolution, you will all drive Rolls Royces”

                “But I don’t like Rolls Royces…”

                “Come the revolution, you’ll do as you’re damn well told!”

              3. I have no problem to listening to anything anyone wants to say. I also have no problem with laughing in their faces when they say something so off-the-wall stupid I can’t control myself. I know, I know, I’m a bad person. I’m very proud of that.

        2. I just have to walk down the street and have someone call me a racist because of my vanilla colored skin. I was trying to help a girl several years ago in the Navy (she was half black and half some Amerindian). She accused me of being a racist because I was helping her. I had to show the MP a picture of my nieces and nephews who were half Ute to convince the MP that I was not racist. (The girl had an alcoholic problem and I told her that she should quit drinking– it was a problem with her entire family so I figured it was genetic.) I would advise anyone who had diabetes or certain type of traits to keep away from the bottle. That remark added that I am extremely pale– and there you go–

          So I understand. BTW over the border into CA, during cinco de mayo (yea– I used small letters), a group of students who had come to the US illegally, beat up a native-born boy who was wearing an American flag. They considered the T-shirt insensitive. Ugh– It caused a hoopla around here because why should wearing the US flag be insensitive in the US?

          1. A navy rating of my acquaintance says that on nearly every deployment he’s been on over the last ten years, there’s been a small group of nonwhite crewpersons trying to provoke some sort of incident. Tactics seem to consist of rudeness and mild harassment — schoolyard stuff, but particularly aggravating on a ship at sea. Anyone caucasian who reacts in public gets accused of racism. The object seems to be to maneuver the victim into having to admit to, and apologize for, his “racist” behavior before the crew, or risk a blot on his record that could get him discharged.

            1. Whitey passes the test by responding with a variation of “you’re gonna throw the card at me??” and a look of amused incredulity. Knuckling under at the first throw of the race card, contrary to SWPL myth, is not something that gets you respect in ethnic America.

              1. Not quite. According to my friend, the Navy has to investigate accusations of racism. I’ve never served, so I may be misunderstanding how things are done aboard a ship, but I got the idea that either the Captain settles it unofficially at sea (the public apology) or it goes official and you risk a court martial.

          2. Mentioning the Navy along with Amerindian reminded me of a story my dad told me.

            He knew this Indian in the Navy who was a big bruiser, and one day they went on leave together. The Indian knew the area, so he was taking my dad to a bar that he knew, but on the way, he told him, “Now, if there’s a fight, you just get behind me and let me do the fighting. You’re too little to fight.” Dad was 5’8″ – not really all that small back in WWII. I’d hate to think how big this guy must have been.

            1. Probably about the size of the Army Sgt I shared a flight with on the way back from San Diego last year. Dude had to duck his head to walk down the center aisle, and turn slightly sideways so his shoulders wouldn’t brush the luggage racks on either side…. and none of it looked to be fat. This was an MD80, not a commuter jet.

          1. Well, it ain’t the America I’ve always thought of, where nobody is discriminated against or favored because of the color of their skin, religious creed or sexual orientation.

            Your experience gives a new spin on the phrase “beyond the pale.”

              1. As a fellow Paleo-American I sympathize, except a natural follicle filter limits burning of my skin.

                As a descendant of Baltic Jews I claim ancestry Hispanic (Jews did not originate in Latvis; they emigrated following expulsion by Ferdinand & Isabella who figured out a nifty way to avoid redeeming her jewels from the pawnshops) as well as African (read the book) and Amerindian (based on the premise that the “lost tribes” crossed the Bering land bridge and settled in the Western Hemisphere.)

                1. Well– there is some really interesting info coming out of our DNA record– 1– a group did go over the Bering Straits, 2-others may have actually come by ship from the Pacific Islands, and 3- they have no idea how the U5b2 group came about. (The group I am talking about). They are a very small group in the Amerindian groups–

                  As for my father’s side, (I am not counting the other ancestry at this point) we were really surprised to find that our family left what is now Palestine about 4000 BC (I think)… We might actually be Sumerians on his side. It is very rare in the US and is mostly found in the Mid-East (a few in England).

                  So imho there were probably several migrations to the Americas.

                  1. since it might be a N. Africa gene, I’m thinking Phoenecians accidentally washed ashore from a mishap trying to reach Africa.

                1. What makes it so aggravating is that half of my brothers and sisters have skin that tans (one has olive skin). I guess each of us have our crosses to bear. 🙂

                  1. I know exactly how you feel. AFAIK my family is pretty much entirely Scots/England both sides and I got the pale skin that burns waaay to easily. My brothers on the other hand, go toasty brown. Completely unfair.

                    1. SIb has the dark Amerind/ French coloring. I look like an extra from an Irish Tourism Board commercial.

                    2. Oh yea– It has been about 150 years since my families came from Denmark and Norway. I still get people asking me if I speak the mother tongue and are disappointed when I don’t know any Norwegian at all. 😉

                2. My husband’s lovely Italian genes gave me two babies who came out darker than the most tanned part of my skin…. To make it worse, both of my parents can tan. I can’t, although I don’t burn as badly as I use to….

              2. My grandfather was Sicilian and as dark as a mahogany table.
                He married a Pennsylvania Dutch woman with skin like paper.

                Guess which one I get, and how long I can stay outside in Texas without sunblock? :p

    3. Given that I’ve Scots-Irish, Belgian and Okie, I’m not sure there is much to claim.

      Although I’ve been tempted to write “Walloon-American” on ethnic forms.

      1. I know a couple of blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids who get a Native-American scholarship for their private school.

        (Hey, their great-grandmother was a member of one of the Cherokee tribes. I’ve seen the documentation.)

        1. Yeah – I know of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed kid who got a Native-American Affirmative Action preference for the Senate.

        2. Hey! I’m a brown-haired (now white), blue-eyed descendant of Native Americans from BOTH sides of the family, and certainly a lot more than Ward Whassizname. My great-great-great grandpappy/great-uncle/something was William “Red Eagle” Weatherford [Creek] on my dad’s side (with a few more additions later, but hard to document) and my great-grandmother Shahata (?) Weatherford [Caddo] on my mother’s side. So what? We’re all Americans, some of us just have some weird ancestry. Citizenship in the United States is based on shared principles, not shared ancestry.

          1. Citizenship in the United States is based on shared principles, not shared ancestry.

            I understand they are undertaking to correct that.

            1. And have pretty damn much succeeded with about 25 to 30 percent of the population. They are “no longer our countrymen”, as Sam Adams put it.

              One of the reasons I’m pretty much convinced a civil war is coming is that group no longer holds common values, absolutely cannot be trusted to stick to any agreement we make with them, and won’t leave the rest of us alone.

        3. Well– I have five nieces and nephews who are Native-American and have gotten scholarships. Pretty smart adults. Do I get the designation by association? 😉

          1. BTW according the the DNA– the Cherokees and some of the Northern tribes (Mohawks are in this group) split with my group 30,000 years ago (maternal line). We stayed in Europe.

          1. I’m probably one of a half-dozen folks who had nifty fits when I heard about the Neanderthal genome find…..Even though they said red hair is from a different gene than in normal humans, I’d been THINKING they more married-in than were killed off.

            1. They are now saying married in… but there are places where the Neanderthals just died four thousand years before the human sapiens stuck there noses into the caves (around mid-east somewhere or I could be wrong about the destination). I am also of the families who may have gotten into the Neanderthal genome (there are redheads in the fam– my grandmother for one).

        1. I believe the neanderthal genes imply
          a) pasty white complextion (aka MR tomato in the sun) and
          b) bones that are stupid strong.
          We survive in the celtic fringes….

          1. Robert is not pasty, but he has the brow ridge, the “bun” at the back of the head and, yep, the stupid strong bones. Also, stupid strong anyway.

            My teeth, long ago, when I had to have a root canal proved to be very odd inside. The doctor was so puzzled, she went researching. “I’ve never seen nerve canals” (or whatever they’re called) “like that, so I went looking. No wonder. You have Neanderthal teeth.”


            1. Interesting. My dentist never said anything like that, so I don’t know. I just had enormous teeth, so that even though i’ve got a huge mouth, there was still not enough room for them all.

              1. YES. On huge mouth “so spacious to work in” the dentists agree. AND on MASSIVE teeth. I only have room for all because they pulled out all the wisdom teeth (they were growing forward and down into the bone, anyway.)

                Weirdly, younger son has normal mouth — like Dan’s — and older son has mine with massive teeth. We thought they could, you know, mix and match…

            2. Dang– I have never heard that either– I have big teeth and a small small mouth (they have to use a child’s stuff to make impressions of my mouth). Oh yea– and not enough room for my teeth either–

              1. That’s me, too. My mouth was so crowded that I only grew in two wisdom teeth. I guess the others were too stupid to live? At any rate, don’t envy me yet. I had to go all over the state to search for a orthodontist brave enough to remove them. (The roots dug so deep into my lower jaw most couldn’t’ guarantee that they wouldn’t break it) At the end of my search, there was only one name. Dr. Fear. Hand do God.

                The scene was like the dental scene out of Cryptonomicon, plus a little “Tam Po Po.” Only Stephenson, who gave us “Hero Protagonist” wouldn’t have gonzoed out far enough to give us “Dr. Fear.” Least painful major surgery I’ve ever had… well, until the Valium and laughing gas wore off. But the saw blade was epic. He even looked kinda like Hannibal Lechter only shaved bald. I can’t even write about it credibly. 🙂

                1. There is an orthodontic surgeon named Dr Fear in my area. When my husband had some work done, he was directed to Dr Fear. We may be neighbors, comparatively speaking. 😉

                  1. Unfortunately, I moved away from there after college. I still visit the area because family lives there– even for my husband. If you have been to local cons– we may have even chatted in consuite. 😉

                    I highly recommend Dr. Fear, if you haven’t been yet. He might have a dark sense of humor (knowing medical types this is not a disqualification for me, but other people differ) , but he is the best ortho in town for a long mile, and considering the area has one of the best dental schools and schools for surgery in the country– that’s saying something. I have truly been blessed with dental ortho treatment– as a kid I had Dr. Cohen, who turned out to be one of the most prestigious professors at said institution for dentistry, he retired to a family practice in the area. Every dentist in the area was afraid of him, because he was so talented, and seemed to believe that there was no excuse for everyone to be as good as he was. 🙂

                    1. It was a few years ago that my husband went to Dr Fear. I just checked the new phone book and he’s still listed, so it’s good to know that he’s still around if we need him. 🙂

          2. Possibly a red tint in the hair without a family history of red heads, too. (But that’s based on nothing but my family having red accents, from the baby-gold through so-brown-it’s-nearly-black old age, without any redheads. And my niftyfits over “Neanderthals sometimes had red hair.”)

  3. There’s an awful lot of Americans that I can’t consider as part of my tribe and I’m sure they don’t consider me as part of theirs. For example, I probably feel more affinity to a group in a remote hill-tribe in Northern Thailand that I visited decades ago who’s language I couldn’t even speak than to some righteous left-wing liberal in New York who wants to regulate how big a soda I should be able to purchase.

    When the chips are down a bit like on 9/11 perhaps I feel more affinity for other Americans. When the chips are way, way, way down, such as they would be if America collapsed, I wouldn’t feel American at all. I would move on, and move on quickly.

  4. If the PC-correct elites want to force this game on the population, I suggest everyone play. Only – let’s use the world’s averages!

    Since @ 90% of the world’s population has hair/eye color in the brown/black category, shouldn’t the world grant the other 10% eye/hair colors points for this obvious minority disadvantage? For example, shouldn’t a green-eyed redhead go to the head of the admissions/scholarship/hiring line if she lives in Mexico City or Tokyo or Turkey? You know how unfair it is deny a redhead admission to a good Japanese university even if she thinks 2 + 2 equals 7.

    For example. my children are obviously ghettoized by their status as Irish/German/Hungarian/French Americans. Not to worry, Mexico or Brazil or Bejing or France, or Nigeria would delight to give immigration to my minority children and put them at the head of the line for all the welfare benefits native workers pay for, n’est- ce pas?

    Let all the world’s population do their geneology and anyone with origins outside the majority country they reside in would automatically qualify for free food, medical care, and scholarships – due to the obvious handicaps.

    Blue eyed unwed American girls who follow their Mexican boyfriends to Acapulco and have three children WILL ABSOLUTELY receive free apartments, grocieries, and medical care – Mexico treats ALL NON-MEXICAN illegals and their anchor babies lavishly, right? In fact, Mexico will pay for all the costs of feeding and housing and schooling the children of the illegal American! Plus force working Mexicans to pay more taxes so the American lady with her anchor-Mexican-born babies will get $30,000 in free grocieries & stuff plus $1,000 a year per child from the Mexican revenue service.

    The world is getting ready to adopt the USA’s generous attitude toward undocumented foreigners and the children they demand American pay to raise! Utopia is here!

    Except for one detail: Only America, and UK to a lesser extent, is playing this game.

    Who’s going to pay for it?

  5. I’ve been told that when young Americans go abroad these days, they bring all their electronic gizmos with them so they aren’t feeling the culture shock the way we did thirty and forty years ago. They can listen to all their favorite songs, they can make phone calls to home very easily, and they can get onto the Internet. They might every now and then interact with a native.

    As far as assimilation goes, America’s multiculturalists make a big exception for sports. They expect immigrants to drop soccer (or even worse, cricket) and take up our sports. The rise of soccer in this country during the last few decades owes exactly nothing to liberals and leftists.

  6. Unsurprisingly, the problem was expressed musically by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in their darkly magnificent Threepenny Opera, in which the singer relates the trauma of not knowing the cultural reference points: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAR3MPdbZ3Y

    In Britain in WWII cultural anthropologists were called in to explain the rush of British girls being left preggers by Yank soldiers. While in America it was the rule that the maid drew the lines, apparently in Britain the cultural norm was for the chap to take no liberty for which he was not willing to accept responsibility. Oops.

  7. Another great post Sarah. I find it interesting who individuals define what culture they identify themselves with.

    I remember when I was a teenager living in Germany (Army Brat here). I was taking French in school and we took a field trip to France to visit a French school. When we got there the teachers were herding all of us to an English class. What? I was (and to some extend still am) a big math geek. I was interested in how the “universal language” was taught, and said so. So while everyone else stuck to the program, I was taken to a math class. I had the best time. The teacher wasn’t there, and when that happens the students don’t have class. I hooked up with a few of the students and we snuck off campus to a pub. Then went back to the school for lunch. After that we hung out in a student break room where they taught me a new card game. I saw some of my fellow Americans, huddled together and looking unsure about what they were supposed to do. Me, I’d made some friends and immersed myself. Did I see how they taught/learned math? No. But the people I met were my type of people and we had a great time.

    What did I learn from this? Don’t be afraid. Try new things. Meet new people. This has served me well when I’ve visited other countries, interacted with people from other countries that are in the US, and just interacted with anyone in general. To this day my wife can’t figure out how I can go into a group of people I’ve never met before, and within minutes be engaged in conversation. I can’t figure out how she can’t. 🙂

    Alan L

  8. Hmmmm…interesting concept, and by observation, I believe to be point on.
    My ancestry primarily stems from the areas overrun by the Celts in the Third Century–Britannia, Hibernia, and a smidgen of Iberia and Germania thrown in for seasoning. So could I call myself a Celtic-American? Or just a “mutt”?

    1. I think ALL Americans are Mutts (capital M), know they’re not “pure-bred (no person is — right, Sarah?), and are happy with that knowledge. It’s only a few that want to think their brown defecations smell like gardenias. That few also have other delusions, to which they’re welcome, as long as they leave me, my guns, my children, and my freedoms alone. If they won’t, I shall be forced to “take up arms against a sea of troubles”.

  9. Like the image of the candlestick shifting to become opposed faces, Sarah’s final line would be perfectly at home in some Lefty twelve-step program:

    “Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’m an American.”

    (Chorus) “Hi, Sarah!”

  10. We all know that the multiculturalist’s and the academic’s loyalty is to Europe and its so-called sophistication. They may say they are against Western civilization all its horrors but they sure believe that installing themselves and their own racial attributes into positions of power is the way we all must go. Real multiculturalism means not valuing the backgrounds these people think entitles them to an opinion everyone needs to hear. I am all for true multiculturalism and observe it myself.


    What ‘tribe’ do I belong to? Is it the ‘Southern boys who have moved north’ tribe, the ‘boys/girls who join the military’ tribe, the ‘weirdos that go into the intelligence career field’ tribe, or even the sub-set of that tribe – ‘weirdos that go into the intelligence career field and then become writers’ tribe? At the same time, could I be a part of the ‘folks that have at least a few drops of Native American/African-American/Irish/French/German/Celt/Lithuanian blood’ tribe, or the ‘people who have migrated more than 50 miles from where they were born/grew up/got married/lived the longest’ tribe? Do I belong to the Sarah Hoyt tribe, the Kate Paulk tribe, or the Robert Heinlein tribe? Sniff, sniff. I am SO confusled!

      1. Puts hand up — I probably have some Viking wrong side of the blanket, due to female ancestors that didn’t run fast enough. (Or had a secret THING for red hair. I mean, I’d probably have tripped when I was young…)
        And I berserk.
        As for brawling, I once held off a dozen guys with machine guns with an umbrella. (Look, they weren’t THAT smart. It wasn’t that GREAT. But it was insane.)

        May I join?

      2. Me too? With my Scottish family lines, I’m sure there’s some Viking in there. Actually, the Hoyt’s dubbed my family The Viking Horde we all the kids would come with us to their house, all five of them. *lol*

        1. The family mostly came from Scotland, but we’d trace back to the border and the reivers. So, if you are English and your cattle are missing next winter, I have no idea what you are talking about and I have an alibi.

          1. No worries. Scottish on my mother’s side, Northern England on my father’s. I’m sure there was some livestock theft from and against both sides of my family. 🙂

      3. Unquestionably part viking here – Mum’s side is from the Isle of Man, with one of the classic blended Manx Viking names. I berserk, and I’ve got a sister who’s 6′ and blond.

        I’ve never gone quite to Sarah’s level of insanity, but I have gone into a rage and don’t remember what happened until after I cooled down.

        1. I don’t rage. I turn cold as ice. My wife knows that’s when I’m really, REALLY dangerous, and she warns everyone to run. I haven’t killed anyone yet, but I’ve put a few in the hospital, and a lot longer than “overnight for observation”.

      4. My people on the Okie side don’t berserk. We just hide behind a tree, chew on a stalk of hay, and figure out how to shoot you in the back.
        Its that Appalachian influence …

            1. Well, he is a Vietnam War Vet with extensive experience. 🙂 He was in the radio group (can’t remember the unit) and they had interesting times.

      5. Hm. Vikings are sorta traditional enemies of my ancestors… although my father’s family is from an area with a relatively strong Swedish element, enough migrated there during the centuries of Swedish rule that some areas are now Swedish speaking, so a good chance is that I do also have some Viking ancestors. So if you don’t mind somebody who at times broods in the corner and glares at everybody…?

                1. Mind you right now I’m living a privileged version of the life of a different Fnnish band – Eppu Normaali’s “Baarikärpänen” in that I’m migrating between airport lounges…

              1. Robert likes Tekno. Halfway from the Denver the other day, with him driving, the classical station ran out and he turned to tekno. I think what made him frantically look for the next classical station was not my hand on the door and my “I’m going to jump out.” No, it was that he’s lived with me long enough to know I was serious.

            1. If it’s Korpiklaani, I dig it, even though my liver hurts after some of their songs. (They’re very much into alcohol.)

            1. LOL–my hubby collects knives too. When we were dating I would give him the strangest looking knives I could find. He usually wears no less than three knives on his body at all times.

              1. He counts how many weapons he’s carrying … what an interesting idea … I’ll have to start doing that.

                Um, one … two … three … don’t mind me, I’ll be a bit…

              2. I would if I could, but it is illegal now. Back in the 80’s, when I worked summers in Lapland, I would usually have a puukko or a leuku hanging from my belt, and nobody ever said anything, not even those few times I stopped to eat in a roadside restaurant and didn’t bother to take it off, but I doubt you could do that now even there. Although since it is legal to have one if you need it in your work, and I do, I have to admit I have this tendency to forget the folding knife I use then in my pocket pretty often. Kind of counting on the fact that I am a nice looking middle-aged aunt type, and kind of scatterbrained one too.

                  1. Yep. Although I doubt I’m the only one with the tendency to forget something in my pockets. Many laws here are becoming something which are seen more as a nuisance, just be careful not to get caught, than something one should respect. Inevitable when they start to become something which often follow no common sense.

                    1. Glenn Reynolds pointed to a couple of good pieces proving that every American violates at least three laws every day, so we’re all criminals. When a society reaches that point, it’s time to change who runs the government. Violent revolution only as a last resort, but it needs to remain on the list — and our government needs to KNOW it’s on the list.

                1. pretty ridiculous– I see that attitude starting to become prevalent here. One of our legislatures is proposing a bill that people can’t text and walk across streets. I think that anyone who does it is just stupid. You cannot legislate common sense.

                  1. There are 3 kinds of laws: the sane safety ones (e.g. seatbelts), the moral ones (don’t steal) and the empowering bureaucracy ones (the rest). I tend to treat the latter as strictly optional and the first as ones I evaluate using my own risk analysis procedures.

                    1. I am not the first person to read an interesting book and walk across the street, but after I was almost hit– I started to pay more attention and not read at least when I hit the crosswalks. 😉 No need to legislate–survival of the fitness and all that jazz.

                2. *sigh* And here I was pissed the other day when I went to the courthouse and they told me I had to take my pocketknife back to the car. I should have told them that that was not a weapon, it was part of my clothes, and I would feel naked if I had to leave it off (which is kind of true).

                  1. No knives is one idiotic piece of legislation. Knives are perhaps tools you don’t need all that often, but since especially a folding knife is so easy to carry it can be very aggravating when you do encounter a situation which could be easily solved if you just had one, and you don’t, whether that’s opening a package or something like cutting off a couple of fir branches in order to get you car moving when you just drove it to a place slippery enough that the tires can’t get any traction.

                    And the same which is said about guns goes double for knives. The people who are likely to use one to make a point in an argument are the ones who take them for an evening in the bar here anyway, and no way to know somebody has one unless they pull it out, so that rule is of no use when it comes to preventing such incidents. All it does is make life a bit more difficult for the law abiding. Gr.

                    1. Our county courthouse has been just this stupid during the past 15 years. No phones, pagers, laptops, knives, guns, screwdrivers, bags, backpacks,… just for starters. When I have to go there, I take in my ID, whatever papers that I need for the business that I have, and my car key. Everything else that I normally carry is locked in the car. However, if you are one of the local attorneys, you don’t have to give up your bag or phone.

                    2. Same here– when I used to repair copy machines at the courthouse, it was a major deal to bring in tools to fix the machines. I had to be walked in by a judge’s assistant.

        1. ….Can YOU imagine the long-term effects of a ton of Odds grouping up? With a disaster big enough to keep fighting from tearing us apart?

          We’ll need more than his blessing!

    1. I really wish I knew what the tensions were about. I can think of several options, but it could very easily be something besides:
      1) Success
      2) Being the wrong kind of Muslim/ not being Muslim/ not being Muslim enough
      3) Racism (from memory, some Muslim groups in Africa are largely Arabic or another group– and give bad movie Southerner Villains a run for their money.)
      4) Plain old cultural clash with two groups that support public displays. (gang and tribal-ish)

      Was disappointed not to see any details when I read the article earlier.

      1. I’d lean to option #4 with a shot of #3. Two groups where males tend to be over-aggressive and prone to rank displays, as well as sensitive to perceived “disrespect.” Plus I’ve been told that immigrants from Africa are most emphatically not African-Americans, and they “can’t understand what oppression feels like,” yadda yadda. Add the usual teenage folderol and “boom!”

      2. Minneapolis is the largest Somali city in the world after Mogadishu. The first large group to come was dominated by professionals, and they considered the local black people to be nuts. This attitude has persisted, even as later waves figured out how to game the welfare system. The Somalis still trend to be much more success (by American standards) oriented.

        It’s still an open question as to whether or not the first-gen (those born in the US to Immigrant parents) will be radicalized. The Islamists recruited a few to go to Somalia to wage jihad, but there was such an uproar about that that the recruiting has been squashed for now.

  12. I was handed an invitation to a celebration held last Saturday. I think enough is said by the words with one of the photos. “Lord God, may we serve you well in this second home that you have given to us. God bless America and Americans.” For a couple and their minor children, on celebration of their citizenship. He is a lay pastor for a group of immigrants who use Swahili as their common second or third language. For most of them, English is their fifth or sixth language, and so it’s simpler to worship in Swahili. Many of their children are bored by Swahili, as they only hear it at church. Some of them come to English-language services. I don’t think this is a hyphen-American thing. I think that this is a “don’t concentrate on new language or culture for these few hours, so that energy can be spent concentrating on worship.” Which makes me wonder how much slow/low assimilation is because the human brain is lazy.

  13. I’ve always been American, though my family is most decidedly Spanish. IDK, they’re weird like that. The only one (besides me, and that was because I am 1st gen ‘merican) who integrated fully was my granddad, who insisted we all speak English because we were in America. My nina fought tooth and nail over that, and flocked to the Catholics and Hispanic neighbors instead of meeting new people. Up to her deathbed she refused to go outside her comfort group. I know that humans are tribal and very territorial, which is why the whole “everything for everyone and to be shared by all” really confuses me.

        1. I’m slowly digging out.

          Do you want access to AFGM to review? Laura says she’ll give you codes for electronic, or I can mail you a copy in the great Post office trip on Tuesday.

          1. Either or would do nicely. I’ve been slacking on reviews lately, but I think now that our new hire is trained I won’t be so stressed out at work and will have energy to do reviews again.

  14. The director of an important organization came to our office to talk about the state’s Asian commission, how it works for equality, and how it was going to possibly affiliate itself with our office. I asked which Asians, and mentioned that in my experience if you get the Koreans in the same room with the Japanese, you have to hide the kitchen knives. He didn’t have an answer to that but my manager winced every time I raised my hand in a meeting after that.
    Historically immigrants to the US shed their hate of their traditional enemies in the first couple of generations, and we forget that. We also forget it was intentional on the part of the older generations since having kids grow up well fed and rich and successful was nicer than feeding ancient, corrosive hatreds to eat yet another generation. I suspect the game of “wow, my ancestors raided your ancestors” is uniquely American, and it displaced a much worse game as played in the rest of the world, civilized or not.

    As to that Portuguese language thing, I don’t insist on being right. However, even though I speak Spanish, and even though I can sort of sound out written Portuguese, I still can’t understand it spoken. Even the language in television doesn’t resolve into discrete words. It is a vastly more complicated language, phonetically, than Spanish. It has also taken a very different path up from Latin and what loanwords it picked up since then. It is child’s play to you, but you are obviously a more exceptional child than I.

    (I’d say more but it feels like trying to pick a fight at the 4th of July picnic about the French revolution. Wrong place, wrong time. And I want to be invited back next year.)

    And I’ve been informed that Philologist is not the word I was looking for. So I will quote the old blues song:

    I’m not a philologist,
    And I’m not the philologist’s son,
    But I’ll say you a little somethin’,
    Until the real philologist come….

    1. He didn’t have an answer to that but my manager winced every time I raised my hand in a meeting after that.

      Oh, I wish you’d been at the “sensitivity training” with my department… we got stuck with the chaplain who was more impressed with her rank than God, and very impressed that she was black, female and spoke for God. (Even from the room she was committing adultery in…but I digress.)

      With a bunch of people who hated her, and a lot of geeks.

      It was a 15 minute talk where we were supposed to give the right answers… and it took more like two hours, as our (very diverse– thank God Lewis started it, or we’d have all been written up; she couldn’t claim someone blacker than herself was racist, and couldn’t claim he was pressured when he went first) group came up with discriminated-against-groups she’d never heard of, including “Hibernian.” Forced her to say what she wanted said, rather than having it “volunteered.”
      Also meant that she didn’t set up the pony show the next year.

  15. Anyway, Americans were these gonzo people, trying to interact with everyone. If you assume that Heinlein had turned my upbringing American enough that I was sort of Proto-American, my wanting to mingle as a kid in America was perfectly normal.

    So… in Star Trek, Earth is America?

    Much agree about the “under stress, being Mine!!! is most important.”

    1. Pretty much any non-grey goo SciFi book written by an American has the dominant culture as American in general. Maybe a few twists here and there, but generally so.

  16. So the thing that pees me off is that I consider myself to be a citizen of the world, but unfortunately that term has been hijacked by scumbags who think that a citizen of the world has to hold certain opinions regarding the wonderfulness of the United Nations and other tranzi groups.

    When I was 20 or so I spent a chunk of time in Helsinki and I don’t think I got too caught up in English/Anglospheric groups. The group I mistly hung out with was very mixed and had Brazillians. Australians, Austrians, Hungarians, Americans, Irish, British, Germans, Dutch, Canadians, Finns (duh), Indians, Norwegians and probably some others that I’ve forgotten. We mocked each other’s cravings for marmite/vegemite/peanut butter/liquorice… The only one who got really upset with the rest of us was Claudia (from Brasil) because she found out that we told her that we woudl meet up somewhere half an hour before we told everyone else. (i.e. 6:60 Claudia time = 7:00 everyone else), but she got over it.

    Philosophically I’m a USian in Sarah’s terms, but I never forget that as an Englishman I have already won first prize in the lottery of life and I see no reason to dilute that by signing papers that say I’m now a revolting ex-colonial or any description

    1. Hehe… This reminds me of a piece in the Oz news about mega queues outside a London business that started importing vegemite. All the Oz expats mobbed the place – so it was raided by the Brit authorities and the vegemite confiscated to try to find out what illegal drugs it had in it.

      Aussies were – of course – highly amused by this.

      Claudia time reminds me of tropical time in northern Australia – described as “Like the Mexican manana without the sense of urgency”. If you wanted someone to meet you at 10am, you told them 9am because they’d start getting ready to leave at the time you gave them. Maybe.

      1. We could never figure out a pattern for my uncle James. While he was always late, it might be an hour, two, three, or a few weeks. Once, he showed up for Christmas in March. So far as I know, however, he always showed up for work on time, he just wasn’t too fussed about time anywhere else.

      2. Manana time is highly annoying when you want to get your car registered. (Panama btw) It would take two weeks to get the car registered (I would go every day for two weeks across the transhistmica–interlinking freeway). It was a journey in itself. Then they would want a bribe to get them going– I would always say no. If the bribe had been twenty dollars I would have dealt with it (you could pay off the police with a 20), but they wanted a minimum of a hundred.

        1. BTW– the police there would pull over GIs and other foreigners around Christmas for fake offenses, which is why each GI who drove was told to keep an extra twenty for the nice policeman. We called it the Christmas bonus.

          1. The Beloved Spouse tells of a church group working with immigrants to the States having to warn them against offering American cops such … gratuities. Evidence that what is taken for granted in some cultures is deadly insult in others.

            Perhaps we need to put our police officers through sensitivity training, accustoming them to accepting such emoluments in the spirit of cross-cultural cooperation?

            1. *snort– some of our police probably have that vice? virtue? at least the elected ones– Of course, I haven’t had personal experience in the States. I just wonder sometimes.

              1. In the US acceptance of such contributions is a perquisite ONLY of higher office, typically elected. They discourage competition from hirelings.

              2. Well, I’ve heard of people who “accidentally” handed Chicago cops a large bill along with their driver’s license. Mind you, this was years ago so I don’t know if it still goes on.

                Oh, the “accidentally” part was what the people said if the cop handed the large bill back and “called them on it”.

            2. In Portugal if you get pulled over, you HAVE to pay squeeze. And if you’re in an accident, you’d better resolve it without calling the police, or it will cost you both squeeze.

    2. I spent most of my teen years standing around on street corners. Usually with an sf book. Sometimes with two, depending on whom I was meeting.
      See, I was born genetically defective for Portuguese — I thought if you were to meet at three, you should arrive at two fifty, or plan to because you were using public transportation and it was better to be early than late.
      The others thought that you should arrive at four, maybe five.

      (I’m going to ignore the ex-colonial quip, because I like Francis and I’ve not had any coffee and using a knife before coffee is messy work. But,MOSTLY I like Francis.)

  17. Recommended reading: _Liars and Outliers_ by Bruce Schneier. (Full disclosure: The SO was one of the beta-readers.)

    I have no tribe — hell, I don’t even fit in with your lot. (I want to wipe out 90% of humanity; it’s just my 90% differs from the Aristos’ 90%.)

    1. I’ll settle for about 10 to 15 — as long as their deaths are sufficiently painful and public to establish where the lines are. It has to be repeated every 3-4 generations; long term wealth and luxury tend to promote people with the leisure to mind other people’s business, and make sure they have the surplus resources to get firmly entrenched before people notice the cultural kudzu.

      1. I’ve said here many times (as well as elsewhere) that the United States began to go downhill when we quit hanging congresscritters every 25-30 years or so. These people need to be reminded that they are public SERVANTS, not public masters. A good necktie party every now and then refreshes the mind most succinctly.

    2. The hubby is convinced there should be open season on stupid people. Either no bag limit or a minimum.

      1. Stupid I can live with. We all have days when we wake up stupid and don’t get the brains in gear before the third cuppa. And times when we discover we’ve left our brains in our other suit/purse.

        The you-know-what hits the fan when you build a society that runs on stupid rather than discouraging it. See adage about make a product foolproof and the world will make a bigger fool.

        Howabout establishing a process by which you have to solve an intelligence quiz before leaving the house or logging on to the internet? Or maybe we authorize Bill Engvall to pass out signs.

        1. First Law of Applications Programming: It is a race between applications programmers to produce idiot-proof programs, and the universe, to produce bigger idiots. So far, the universe is winning. Easily.

            1. There’s also my very own unified theory of why the world is what it is:

              Dilbert is the operations manual.

        2. There’s stupid, and there’s aggressively (or perhaps the term should be arrogantly) stupid. Plain stupid is ok, especially if the person has a clue that they are either not understanding something or are not making sense, or are being dangerous (such as when texting and walking), and try not to let it show too much.

          But the aggressively stupid ones who loudly proclaim what an idiot you are, while declaiming things that are patently false, and have no logical underpinnings, or else do something like get in an accident while texting and driving, then accuse the other driver (and you can tell it’s not fake – they really do think this way), or like that woman at the occupy protest who brought her kids with her while they blocked the doors to this place where some of the people they were protesting were, and accused the police of putting her children in danger because they shouldn’t have started dragging the protesters away so the people inside could get out; they should have an open season on them. Or perhaps be classified as vermin, so that no “hunting season” applies, and are always open.

          1. I decline to engage in discussion of the “arrogantly stupid” because, well, politics gets quickly involved. Leave us just acknowledge that almost anybody labeled “stupid” by the MSM probably is not.

            Circling back to the “ink drinking” post, there are none so stupid as those who join with the “smart set” hoping that association with “smart” people will accord an aura of intelligence to them. But, as they are not themselves smart, their identification of “smart” people with whom to associate is … flawed.

          2. We had someone once hit our car, parked in front of the door, in the middle of the night, while we were ASLEEP. We came running at the crash, in our nightclothes. The driver who’d hit us told the police we’d backed into him AND if our neighbor hadn’t been on the front porch and watched the crash, he might have got away with it.
            He was absolutely earnest. Of course, his blood alcohol was near poisoning levels.

          3. Stupidity is an illness. Aggressive stupidity is a terminal illness. The biggest problem is that aggressively stupid people often take others down with them.

            There’s a big difference between being ignorant and being stupid. Being ignorant means you don’t know the facts. Being stupid means you refuse to accept the facts.

            We all sometimes operate before putting our brain in gear. That’s neither ignorance nor stupidity, but just being human.

      2. “I have a little list, I have a little list
        The surely won’t be missed — there’s none of them’d be missed.”
        Gilbert and Sullivan “I have a Little List” (the Lord High Executioner’s Song) from The Mikado. 🙂

        1. “Everyone knows someone we’d be better off without
          But best not mention names ’cause we don’t know who’s about
          But why commit a murder and risk the fires of hell
          When black widows in the privy can do it just as well?”

          Black Widows in the Privy, by Julia Ecklar.

          I foresee a land office business for our eight-legged friends….

            1. My grandfather met some black widows in the privy, and he was bit. And he did survive. But he always took an extra shoe into the privy with him after that…

                1. I had developed a fear of spiders (for about a year) from just hearing the story . But then, I never told you where he was bit– and I won’t. (But from this, you can probably guess.) But then, I spent most of that following year in New Mexico, where you either coped with your fear or died of fright. I got better (in context).

        2. “What are you doing?”
          “I’m adding names to my enemies list”
          (looks at very LARGE volume) “I’m not in it, am I?”
          “Of course not.” (pause) “This only goes to E”

          1. Keeping an Enemies List is a foolish waste of time. (Pulls small notebook from shirt pocket, glances at first page.) I keep a Non-Enemies List; it is far more efficient.

            Right now mine consists of the Beloved Spouse, the Daughtorial Unit … and …. nobody else. In pencil. With question marks.

            I used to be in that book but an honest evaluation led me to erase my entry.

            1. Only fair, since I stole it too – from a cheesy 1980s TV series that (alas) died after the first season.

        3. When I was young, I would occasionally witness my mother having to deal with an officious bureaucrat or other annoying imitations of humanity. She would be a model of grace and pleasantness until we were out of their line of sight and hearing. Then she would frown, and say quietly, “He’s first against the wall when the revolution comes.”

          It wasn’t until I became an adult, and realized my mother lived through twelve revolutions, that I grew to truly appreciate the truth. She hadn’t been blowing off steam; she’d been re-arranging in her head the list of who she was going to murder when the next revolution came through and all bloodshed could be done on the pretext of “Viva La Revolucion”.

          Being the USA, the revolution never came. And my mother grew less and less patient with willful ignorance and other stupidity as she got more accustomed to having to deal with it long-term.

  18. I’ve often marveled about my family. Dad was a sailor (for 30 years), Mom was a nurse, both worked fulltime+, and we six kids had to pretty much run everything, particularly my four older siblings (as kid #5, and 4 years younger than the next oldest sibling, I was mostly a source of pain for the others). We fought, bickered, razzed each other — but woe to the person who crossed or threatened or hurt one of us. Even now — with all six of us in our 50s and 60s — there has never been a spat, feud, or dispute of any note between us. And we have all been there for each other time and again.

    Many years ago, while I was still married to my former wife, her mother once complained that my family was “clannish”. She meant it as a criticism; I took it as the highest of praise. ..bruce..

  19. Great post.
    Once upon a time, I was at a con with my then seven year old daughter. We had driven up for the day with a couple of friends. Then it began to rain. The sky opened up and lakes fell out. By mid afternoon we were flooded in. The hotel in which the con was taking place was located on the top of a hill so we effectively became an island. There was no way to leave without a boat and ‘home’ was over two hours away.
    The hotel of course was packed, without a room to spare. Many people ended up sleeping in hallways. However, my friends and I were lucky enough to meet someone who hailed from Chattanooga. We all went to dinner together in the hotel and quickly became friends. (Chattanooga is only thirty miles from where I live.) We were invited to share our new friend’s room after she obtained permission from her roommates. We were extremely grateful.
    Then her roommates pulled me aside to quietly let me know they were “a little funny”. They just wanted me to know because they knew some people had issues with things like that especially around children. I wasn’t being propositioned or anything. They just wanted to avoid a possible fight or argument. I was very tired so their confession a little confused me a little. I couldn’t figure out why they were telling me at first. At the time I was thinking, “So?” Because I really didn’t see how their orientation had anything to do with us staying in the room.
    My friends came to my rescue and explained the matter to me. After a moment of feeling stupid I approached the people who were allowing me, my daughter, and my friends to stay in their room. I let them know that I appreciated their kindness and their consideration. They took in four stranded complete strangers and I thought that spoke more about them then who they were attracted to or their skin color. I was just thankful for a safe place to stay. Ironically, the room ended up being so full that my daughter and I slept in the closet. 😀

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