Monday, 8 January 2018

Advice to Mika

“I had some friends that went to Paris over the holiday, and they said they were just viscerally embarrassed to be Americans. They said it was the first time that it was sort of chilling. That they didn’t even want to share where they were from.”

-- Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe 

This has oddly come up over the past fourteen months as folks across the great Atlantic had to warm up to the idea that Hillary Clinton lost.....to of all people....Donald Trump.  Yes, it is a shocker, and still to this day....some French folks, some Brits, a fair number of German intellectuals, and various oddball Europeans have felt the need to let the American visiting how they felt.

I tend to look at this in a different way.

I knew some Americans that also went over for a 'holiday', in France.  It was one of those affairs where they mostly threw together the bare essentials (some smokes, a deck of cards, a couple of pairs of underwear and socks, a canteen, a web belt with a holster for a M-1911 handgun, a M-1911 itself, and two changes of clothing).  Sarge would have tightly controlled the M-1 Garland until they officially arrived at the destination.

They seemed to leave off any men's cologne (feeling it wouldn't help matters).  Ties weren't necessary.  A dress suit for a night out might have been nice but they didn't anticipate any evenings or fancy dress balls.  Their list of things to see in France was awful short.  Most just wanted to leave the shores of France as soon as the 'tour' was finished. 

To be honest, they weren't really invited.  This was one of those invitation slips that meant you needed to show up several months prior and get into some decent shape because you'd have to a fair amount of walking across the French landscape.

The arrival on French soil?  Well....if you were on the original first-arrival list, you probably didn't see much of the countryside, or French hospitality.  And the odds are that your weary bones lay on some French soil, where you had sixty seconds to note the beach and the charm of the French people.

Some folks got past the beach party situation, making miles inlands.  Oddly, they were getting a mixed welcome.  Some non-French folks felt the sudden arrival of the poor uninvited American was not necessary.  But just about every single French citizen came out, openly wept and slobbered over the poor American guy who didn't really grasp a single word of French, and guzzled down whatever French wine was offered....whether it was dry, sweet, or a lousy year.

We mostly just noted that we were passing through, and weeks later...had made it to the border of Belgium, where we found those folks acting the same way.

Course, when the folks arrived at the German border, there wasn't much of a welcome reception. 

I sit and ponder over Mika, her friends who spend the holidays in France, and the rough treatment of the French....oddly enough, they probably got the same wine, and listened to a good bit of French criticism while toasting some snails and eating some half-cooked calve's liver with a lovely mustard sauce.  Course, Mika's friends will all weep over the fact that they did everything possibly for Hillary, and the French host will pat them on the back and refill their wine glass. 

Yes, it seems that if we'd just voted enough for Hillary to win....the French would love us.  So this brings to this point....if someone worries about some authority figure who is there or who is not there....isn't this like a Jesus-figure syndrome?  If you can only be accepted if the right person wins the Presidency, what does it really say?

Oddly in the summer of 1944, no one asked the poor American about the right guy or the wrong guy situation.  If Trump had been President in 1944....would the French have come to the beach and asked the Americans to leave because it was the wrong President?  Would those Americans at the beach been viscerally embarrassed as well, and choose to remain at the beach or return to the safe shores of Britain?

My suggestion to Mika and her friends....life goes on.  If you are prone to visceral embarrassment....it's best to remain at home, sip some California wine, toast some Texas snails over the grill, and weep over some Edith Piaf songs.

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