Monday, April 11, 2005

Being a Scottish Gaijin, you get questions of when will you’ll go back home. “Do you think you’ll ever go back to America?” When my reply is no, there is always the follow up question, “What do you like so much over here?” The Scots are very comfortable with maintaining a contradictory opinion of their nation. While being one of the most nationalist races in Europe short of putting bombs in bins, they revel in complaining about the Scottish weather, Scottish cuisine, Scottish proximity to England, and most of all complaining about the Scots people. So, when one comes from such a country so glamorous as to have invented both hip and hop and to house the greatest individuals of our time, i.e. Britney Spears1 It confuses them to think that this person would be more comfortable shivering in the winter darkness close to the North Sea.

My response is usually a glib “Everything I could get in the States, I have here. Plus, Haggis isn’t all that bad.” That’s the thing. It’s not that bad. If you like sausage, it’s damn tasty. The weather too. It’s really not that bad. I come from a place in America where the climate has a death toll. No one died from drizzle. Yes. It’s true. Sunshine is nice but not if it comes with 40 C (that’s around 100 F) for 4 months of the year. As well as humidity the presses on your chest like a stone. It was the ‘Everything I could get in the States’ part that was ill defined for me. What is that everything? I just know that I have never had the sensation of doing without except for the occasional craving for migas. Mmmmmm. migas. But, I think I have defined it.

Generations ago there was good reason to be in America. Even in the twentieth century Europe was a mess. When not slaughtering each other over colonial nonsense or the correct spelling of some tributary on the continent. They busied themselves still playing kings and peasants. It still exists to a lesser extent. There is a definite divide based on last names here. If your forefather helped some jackass king cross a river or win a battle, your life is pretty much set. It takes a fundamental amount of incompetence to fuck up your life if your last name has a hyphen2. America has a class system but its more fluid, floated on wealth rather than pedigree. I don’t blame my ancestors for packing it in and sailing on once they realized they lost the surname lottery. These days that advantage doesn’t really exist. Europe has similar levels of prosperity and meritocracy. A few cobwebs of the class system remain, but nothing compared to earlier times. It also has the same political stability that made the States the refuge that it seems to be forgetting it was3. These are the abstractions that make up the ‘Everything’ I have a hard time naming. My daily life is little different from that in the States. It has only been augmented. Why wouldn’t I stay? Just don’t tell my mother, she still thinks I am only over here for an extended vacation.

  1. You must forgive them this, the only thing they have for a pop star is an Australian Grandmother. See Kylie Minogue. And yes, she’s still alive.

  2. Yet, a good number manage the feat.

  3. It doesn’t say anything about white Christian huddled masses on the statue.

1 comment: