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How to be an ugly American.

Ugly Americans ready to travel.
Ugly Americans ready to travel.

It’s not difficult to be an ugly American.  With a little practice you can master the strategy as well as the spouse of any high-ranking elite. The first thing you must do is ramp up all your attitudes and opinions.  Give yourself a little booster shot of venom.  Don’t bother learning so called “useful words of phrases” – you’ll only embarrass yourself struggling to twist your mouth and vocal chords.  Assume everybody speaks English by now.  After all, they’ve had a lifetime to learn the language, haven’t they? In order to claim success you want to force your ideas upon the natives of the host countries you visit. Think Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” while interviewing a  middle eastern woman cowering in a burka in chiaroscuro lighting – “You mean your husband is allowed to beat you?  Isn’t there a law against that?  Well why not?  In our country we have laws that protect...”

You’re the ambassador of truth, you’re always right!   Those living in other countries are poor ignoramus urchins.  It’s vital for you to keep a haughty presence. and to bolster your self-importance by explaining that YOU are living proof of how important you are, otherwise you would not be in their country enlightening them! Practice your expression of disapproval when engaging the natives in conversation about their culture, customs, education, food or politics.  Then explain how we do things in the USA.  That should help clear up any misunderstanding about the correct way of handling annoying social and political problems that may arise.

Your luggage speaks volumes so make sure it’s big, flashy and expensive-looking. Reserve the most expensive group of suites in your hotel – penthouse, with views. You may need to inconvenience other paying customers but so what? Bring along as many relatives – your mother and daughters for example, plus your staff of makeup, hair, wardrobe, assistants and security guards. Don’t forget to hold the elevators for your group.  Yes, all the elevators. You never know when a member of your group may want to visit the amenities shop in the lobby to ask about postage for postcards to America. Keep a  member of your group stationed at the elevator bank in order to hog as many as they can handle. 

Tips on wardrobe -- always wear loud, brightly colored t-shirts with messages emblazoned on them, tight blue jeans preferably with holes, very short skirts, lots of jewelry, denim overalls and jackets are always a good choice.   Prairie skirts with clogs or white tennis shoes always work.  If you are male, be sure to wear shorts and a t-shirt if invited to play golf.  No need for regulation long pants and collared polo shirt as at Pinehurst or Pebble Beach. If you like the retro-70s look, men should wear gold chains with shirts unbuttoned to the waist.  (Remember Tom Jones?)  Balding men seem to enjoy growing just enough hair to make a pony tail. Sandals worn with socks seem to be enjoying a comeback.  Aloha shirts for both men and women are always tres chic.  Note on the blue jeans – wear them tight-fitting, especially if people back home refer to you as “thunder thighs” and you have a big back porch.  Facial hair for men is very "in" so you might want to consider growing a large "Geraldo" mustache (1970s porn star style) or a Smith Brothers cough drop-type beard.  You'll need to wear flip flops with the facial hair so people don't confuse you with terrorists.

You can inspire a great deal of fun by singing “99 bottles of beer on the wall” when your group is being driven to a cultural site or special local event.  The locals will admire your joie de vivre. Always be a little too loud and laugh a lot – it’s important in order to offend as many people as possible --- natives and tourists alike.  Break into song or dance, especially when visiting a sacred monument or site.  Barking at hotel personnel lets them know how inferior their service is.  How can they ever improve unless you take it upon yourself to educate them?  Be sure to talk, giggle or take selfies during every solemn occasion.  

When invited to speak about yourself or your country, be sure to say something highly provocative and offensive about your country first, then about theirs  Criticize their government and their culture  You’ll be censored by their media but think of the friends you’ll make on twitter and Facebook.  Post an instagram of yourself making a face while attempting to eat one of their typical foods.  Last of all, buy lots of cheap souvenirs and name them after local officials or dead icons of their history. Whatever you do and wherever you travel, never be subtle, quiet and compliant.  That’s for sissies. Be loud, bold and obnoxious. You’ll be sure to leave a lasting impression.  Congratulations, you are now officially an "ugly American" upholding a great tradition.  You can pass on this legacy to your children and grandchildren.

 


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Nancy Crueger March 28, 2014 at 11:12 PM
Not coming to your defense - you express yourself perfectly well. Had meant to post the comment a day or so ago but was busy with an ill dog. Simply enjoyed the article, as usual.
Irene DeBlasio March 29, 2014 at 12:22 AM
@NancyCrueger My heartfelt wishes for your dog's speedy recovery. Thank you for taking the time to read the post and comment. It means a great deal to me.
Irene DeBlasio March 29, 2014 at 12:46 AM
@David You bring up a good point. Manhattan/Malibu types visiting in Nebraska or vice versa probably suffer a certain culture clash. We're a vast country with regional customs, foods, ideas, accents and beliefs. You're right -- plenty of conflict right here in the USA. What do you value -- southern efficiency or northern hospitality? I seriously doubt that President Obama is ramping up his discussion about same-sex marriage with the Saudi King tonight either. As visitors in another state or part of the country we should make an effort to blend in and have the grace to shut up and listen. We must find a way to remain grounded in our own principles and to be respectful of other people's beliefs. We can try to dress in a reserved fashion and try not to be pretentious. Thank you, David, for adding the most important dimension of travel - to participate and observe new ideas, new surroundings and to always show tolerance.
William Bauer April 07, 2014 at 06:04 PM
I traveled in Europe last July and saw first hand some prime examples of "Eht Ylgu Nacirema". As one who speaks fluent German I was able to listen to some of the feedback from the native denizens regardng their foreign visitors as to manners and dress. What happened to:"When in Rome do as the Romans do"? We should not be barbarians. Keep them coming Den Mom.
Irene DeBlasio April 10, 2014 at 10:24 AM
@WilliamBauer Did you notice that many of the Europeans, especially the younger generation, try to emulate Americans? I think it's sweet to see so many locals in the major cities wearing American baseball caps and blue jeans which have been ironed. Our governments might be clashing but for the most part the natives appreciate everything about being American. Thank you for commenting.

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