July 01, 2006
20. Low expectations. A few months ago I was outside a beer joint in Ecuador, peeing behind a blond horse named Gringa. Peeing behind his own horse nearby was an old friend, Enrique, who was in the middle of telling me about some unpleasantness he'd recently endured at U.S. customs in Miami. Officers there had refused to believe that a thirty-one-year-old banana republican earned enough honest bucks to own a vacation condo in Florida. Was he a narcotraficante? A terrorista? A narcoterrorista?! The interrogation concluded with an emasculating strip search, and the experience left Enrique thoroughly fed up with Americans. "I don't mean you," he quickly added. "You're different." For what it's worth, he's right: You'd never catch me rubber-gloving a rectum just because its owner looks a little Escobar-y. But my point here is that our rep has plummeted so low that it's almost impossible not to rise above it. Most foreigners, unless you're forcing them to play naked Twister or collaterally damaging their wedding parties, are pleasantly surprised by our lack of visible fangs. This has led to a happy paradox: While we're collectively in the toilet, we individually smell like roses.
Man, that applies to just about every conversation I've ever had with a foreigner.
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