Can you put pineapple and bacon on that?

So yesterday evening, while waiting to ask directions in a hotel lobby, I was standing behind an American woman and her two kids. They were all obese, all a deep red shade of sunburn, all sorta loud. The mother was ordering room service. “You have pizza, right?” she said.

“Yes, of course,” said the employee.

“Can you put pineapple and bacon on that?”

“Uh … pineapple and bacon?” came the reply.

I laughed—but only out of a sense of un-patriotic embarrassment. You’re in Italy … in Rome—and you order a pizza as if you’re at Pizza Hut? What?

But then I started thinking—about the pineapple-and-bacon pizza; about other things I’ve seen in my various international trips through the years. And my conclusion is this: Americans are fucked up.

OK, perhaps “fucked up” is too strong. But something’s wrong with us, and I’m not sure what it is. Here in Italy, there seems to be a genuine investment in environmental betterment. Everything—absolutely everything—is recycled. The cars are smaller and much more efficient. People (gasp!) walk. Furthermore, while this may well be the land of churches, it’s certainly not the land of uncontrolled dogma. People believe, or sorta believe, or kinda believe. But it seems to be with something of a wink and a nudge. Hmm … maybe I’m off about the wink and the nudge. But it’s certainly not shoved in your face, a la a Rick Perry or Sarah Palin. It’s not a litmus test.

Most of all, I’ve never, ever, ever heard an Italian or Spaniard or even Frenchman yell or scream, “Our country’s the best! We’re No. 1!” But we insecure Americans do it all the time. We can’t mess with Lady Liberty! These colors don’t run! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! I feel like, in all the bombast, we’ve lost any sense of intr0spection. It’s 2011—what are we the best at? Our health care still sucks, our schools are fading, our sciences blow, our political system—ha! I know … I know—we’ve got all the best actors. And singers. But, well, where are we? What are we doing? Which direction are we headed?

Are we a nation the strives for greatness? Or merely bacon and pineapple on our pizza?

14 thoughts on “Can you put pineapple and bacon on that?”

  1. Jeff that last blog entry is so cynical and disingenuous that I cannot help but comment.

    The reason why the US is a country that perpetually touts its greatness is because unlike the nations you mentioned France, Spain and Italy, it is not culturally homogeneous and therefore uses symbols like the flag and lady liberty to unite a diverse group into a single country. Countries that perceive themselves and culturally homogenous don’t need to do that because they are already united and if you took a moment to step back and pounder it you would relives that it is not a phenomena isolated to the USA. When the USSR existed they had the same issue and was very nationalistic. Today China, a country trying to unite very different culture is very nationalistic.

    That said…you want to see nationalistic and even regionalistic blather ask a Italian or Frenchman whose food is better, whose wine is better, whose football team is better…you’ll get some real answers

    As for Europe being more green that the US….do you really think it is because they were so much more enlightened…no…the true issue is they have limited space and resources and they just could not afford all of that waste nor could they meet the demand without blowing their economies….so it was a decision of Finance not or conscious.

    As for our government stinking, you’ve got a point they have done a rotten job lately but would you want to be governed by France, Spain or Italy….Do you know it the backlog in the judicial system in Italy is over five years

    As for you issue regarding religion…your argument is week….sure there are religious extremist but there and many people here that share the same pragmatic approach to faith and believe it is an benevolent and inclusive. Once again you are focusing on the actions of people on extreme boundaries of a diverse culture and basing your statement as if it were the mainstream…it’s cheating

    Bottom line is the US is a conglomeration of cultures and it has its strengths and its weaknesses…Like pineapple bacon pizza…what needs to be done is that we need to enlighten rather than look down upon those who don’t meet our standards

  2. muhammed goldstein

    [5] Well said,Ray. Though I think Jeff is spot on about the uber-nationalism in the US. I have lived abroad for 15+ years, never seen ANYTHING like the flag-waving and military worship in the US. Also never met a single person around the world (besides one Saudi govt official who coult not say otherwise) that supported the US inavsion or Iraq or blind support of Israel. American people are mainly good at heart, but woefully un-informed and convinced of their moral superiority..very sad.

  3. Ray,

    Your argument would be better if you used proper grammar and spelling. I can forgive an error or two, but your post had at least a dozen.

  4. If you’re going that route, Dr. K, where is criticism of the error(s) in Jeff’s post?

    Having lived (worked) abroad…all countries have their peaks and valleys. Jeff just had the good fortune to run into the perfect stereotype to put him into a funk-spiral.

  5. As I said, I can forgive one or two errors. (I counted two on Jeff’s post; perhaps there’s more). But Ray’s post would get an “F” from any self-respecting high school English teacher. Which is a shame, because he has some good insight.

  6. There’s a reason those of us who have traveled extensively and lived overseas often pretend to be Canadian when asked…

  7. That’s a cop out. I go out of my way to be a positive sample of American instead.

    Except in Equatorial Guinea. I kept my head down there, period.

  8. can’t agree more.

    While in HK last summer, I felt it was my duty to apologize to an entire bar staff. Three FedEx pilots talked openly and disrespectfully to all the asian women working there… about their sex vacations in SE asia.

    Made me feel absolutely embarrassed as a person, let alone a proud American.

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