Friday, February 26, 2010
I adore the Olympics: the drama, the grandeur, the petty squabbles, and the unexpected triumphs. I get sucked into everything from curling to cross-country skiing and spend two weeks pretending I can talk intelligently about Shaun White's halfpipe skills. But you know what I love the best about the Olympics? Mocking foreign countries.
Okay, disclaimer: I love the world, boom de yada, etc. I enjoy traveling, I have friends around the globe, and my favorite part of my last job as a copywriter at a vacation company was learning new and cool stuff about other cultures (none of which I could use, sadly, because tourists want to hear about New Zealand's snorkeling opportunities, not traditional tattoo designs or historical treaties).
But I also love me some broad humor, as does my husband, so it's been like the Catskills up in Daisy Razorville this past week. The jokes boil down to a pretty simple formula: Pick a country, then list the first three or four things that pop into your head about that great nation. No matter how much you know about the place, I guarantee your first few associations will be completely absurd. Like for New Zealand, I would not say Maori culture and world-class sailing. No, I would say hobbits, sheep, and Karl Urban. I just realized that I don't even know if New Zealand has a Winter Olympic team. Oh, they do! Somehow, I am surprised Karl Urban is not on it. Moving on.
Next, run with your ridiculousness! Roxy and I were discussing Sven Kramer from the Netherlands, who was disqualified for a lane violation from a race in which he'd not only won, but also set a world record. Tough break, especially for him, since apparently speed skating is SERIOUS BUSINESS for the Dutch. That their national sport involves athletes wearing body condoms is silly enough, but the rest of what Holland is known for, according to Roxy and me? Flowers, dikes, windmills, clogs, and hookers. Meaning it must be great to be a famous speed skater in the Netherlands, what with all the free tulips and clog-dancing whores you could ask for.
Sometimes the athletes make it easy. When the Israeli ice dancers came out for their traditional/folk dance, I started singing Hava Nagila, like the insensitive jackass I am. Then their program started and it wasn't a joke anymore--they really skated to Hava Nagila. Mr. Razor cracked that for their free dance they'd be kicking it to Fiddler on the Roof. I don't think even he would have tried a joke involving what turned out to be their actual, no kidding, free dance music: the soundtrack from Schindler's List.
Lest you think we're complete xenophobes, believe us, we mock the Americans too. But it's not as absurd since we're not on the outside looking in. Other countries don't have that problem. I still snicker about the time a guy in a London pub asked me where I'd left my gun and cowboy hat. Apparently the British think all U.S. citizens hail from Deadwood circa 1880. And you know what my friends in Ireland say when you ask them to list four things about the US? Paris Hilton, Cops, Brangelina, and deep fried twinkies. Those are our exports, people!
All right, I thought I'd get to the end here and have some sort of deep thoughts on celebrating our differences through humor and how laughter is the universal language or something, but really I just want to make another dumb joke. Ready? My baby daughter is French-Irish-German-Greek-Syrian. I can already tell you three things at which she'll excel: Drinking, fighting, and insulting people's mothers. Thank you and don't forget to tip your server!