What It Means To Be An American

Some time ago a New Zealand friend asked, “What is it like to be an American?” While I certainly cannot claim the title of American, this weekend is my fourth anniversary, I felt confident enough to attempt a reply. Here is my answer;

“Confused, puzzled, perplexed, baffled, mystified, bewildered, bemused, befuddled – that’s what it means to be an American. And why not – consider this.
It’s the country that wins the most medals at every Olympic Games and has the fattest, most unfit population in the world.
It’s the country that has the world’s best medical science and the world’s worst method of delivering medicine to its people.
It’s the country that put a man on the moon but still has millions who think God made the universe in seven, twenty four hour days.
It’s the country that leads the world in the production of hard core porn and still has millions of southern Baptists who think the sight of a woman’s ankle drives men to rape.
It’s a country that invades Iraq to spread democracy and happily disenfranchises four million Puerto Ricans.
It’s the country of the New York Times and the National Inquirer – Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly.
It’s the country whose society is progressive, educated and caring and yet insists on murdering its worst offenders.
The extremes are stunning and overwhelming. But does it lead to a confused population? After all Dwight Eisenhower, Wyatt Earp, Hillary Clinton and Eileen Collins are or were positive, assured individuals. But then there is Paris Hilton, she’s pretty vapid. I wonder if her SAT score ever reached four figures.
I just don’t know what the answer is. Perhaps I shouldn’t worry about it. I think I’ll make a turkey sandwich, open a Bud and watch the Super Bowl with a Jewish mate. Thank God I’ve been here four years. Just long enough to become a real American.”

Honesty compels me to report there is one aspect of American life that is driving me mad. I understand there are some who do not like Swimwatch and will say “Pack your bags and go somewhere else then.” Before you do, please hear me out, we may have common ground.
Pharmaceutical advertisements; I can handle the Iraq war, crazy medical insurance rates, the Californian porn industry, Southern Baptists, DC hookers and all the other extremes. They add color; make the place interesting. But I tell you, pharmaceutical advertisements are just bloody disgusting. Worse, have you noticed how they always play the things when the population is just sitting down to have dinner?

For those of you, who live outside the US, let me explain. Television in the US airs pharmaceutical advertisements sufficient to cure every disease known to modern man. Many are inoffensive enough; pain relief, Head On, apply directly to the forehead; Rand Eye Institute, one vision one option. Some though, go way, way beyond what is reasonable. It is difficult to understand a nation that forced itself into mental therapy over the possible exposure of Janet Jackson’s nipple and every night sits at peace through graphic descriptions of poor bladder control, male impotence and anal leakage.

Leading the pack for poor taste are cures for male impotence and the list of possible side effects for everything. Their product will cure your head ache but may cause an increase in blood pressure, sleeplessness, tenderness of the breasts, bed wetting and excessive flatulence. Have you ever noticed how many of these products cause excessive flatulence? And they wonder why we have an ozone layer problem?