Sunday, November 13, 2011

American Exceptionalism

I was sitting in one of my Oregon haunts, the Wild Goose - in the bar in back - one afternoon a few years ago when two guys walked in. They took a seat in the corner and Dennis the bartender quickly had two beers at their table.

There were two guys at the bar speaking German. (I know this because I speak pretty good German.) I don't know if I sensed something or what, but I started paying attention, because something wasn't right: The dudes who had just walked in had immediately become very uncomfortable. They looked like they were about to shit their pants, to be truthful, and it was all about the two guys a the bar—speaking a foreign language. The Germans weren't doing anything other than talking—they were just sitting there, talking. They hadn't even looked around the room that I noticed. 

The two dudes in the corner didn't say a word to each other. They sat in stunned silence. It was as if they had walked in to find a goat on top of the bar being raped by a gorilla. And nobody cared! Everybody just sat there, as if speaking in a foreign language was some kind of okay thing to do! Why wasn't this outrage being stopped?!

After just a few minutes the two dudes suddenly got up from their table and walked, arms swinging, toward the door.

"So long guys!"called Dennis from behind the bar, oblivious to the dudes' outrage.

"Yeah," mumbled one, looking back over a pumping shoulder. "We'll be back, and when we do WE'LL TALK ENGLISH!" and SLAM, out the door they went, I'm sure with a feeling of great conquest in their loins. The Germans never even noticed them.

Every time I hear the phrase "American exceptionalism," I remember that afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. P.S. The first person to say, "You obviously have no idea what the phrase refers to" is a jackass.