Europe: The Review
A Brief, Accurate Account Of An Entire Continent.
Recently, circumstances led to my traveling to Europe: east by plane across the pond, over our silly motherland of England, and into the fabled land of tight suits and cheese. My whole life, this place has been heralded to me as the earthly incarnation of heaven—which of course I’ve always found ridiculous since we live in God’s favorite country of all, America. But on this journey it seemed time to finally take these ideas to task and give Europe a formal reckoning. Backed as I am by a pure WASP heritage that runs back to the palest members of the Mayflower, I feel confident that I’m the qualified to make this call.
Now where exactly I went during my time in the E.U. is difficult to say. To the best of my understanding most my time was spent in Belgium and the Netherlands, but when it comes to those countries what’s the difference really? Like any foreigners, Europeans are basically all the same. So, here’s what I found to be true for the place as a whole.
This first point is really the saving grace of the E.U.: almost everyone speaks some of English (the only true tongue). No dealing with unclean local dialects or characters—one can navigate just fine with plainly spoken English. Although you may have to yell a bit. Some locals will give funny looks when you disregard their local “culture” and consonant-laden “language”, but it’s best to ignore these with the kind of blitheness that only Americans can muster. The world is after all just the property on which our home rests. I don’t expect you’d give much thought to the utterances of animals living under your porch; the same principle applies here.
France is the Mexico of the E.U.
Nearly every person I met abroad, even the the most rudimentary English speakers, made it clear to me quickly just how much they too hate the French. Reasons for their distaste were varied, but ranged from their general laziness to the inexplicably hairy women. Overall, on-target observations. Amazingly, their solution for dealing with this nationalistic annoyance is quite similar to how we deal with our distaste for Mexico: glean the two largest exports (in the case of France it’s cheese and wine; for Mexico, lawn care and kitchen staffing) and otherwise do their best to keep the offending individuals away. Fortunately for them, the aforementioned laziness of the French make this pretty easy.
Hookers are People Too
Much as I love being sanitized by little wipes before my pecuniary rolls in the hay, it does take some of the fun out of it. What’s the point of being able to pay to survive AIDS if you never get it? My memories of the variety of velvetine whorehouses are fond, but disturbingly flecked throughout with the feeling that these women expect to be treated with a modicum of respect—almost like human beings! One girl I bought informed me up-front that I wasn’t going to be allowed to hit her. Then she mentioned that the sanitary precautions were as much for her as me! This was almost too much—I nearly fainted. Incidents like this never fail to remind you how much these societies have to learn.
Taxes on the Toilet
In Europe, nearly everything has a price: tiny bottles of water, internet connectivity, and yes even relieving yourself. Marvelous, isn’t it! This is the kind of inventive capitalism that frankly I’m ashamed we’ve let slip by in the U.S. It’s fantastically inventive, offers more chances to put the poor in their place, and affords another occasion to show off the cash in your wallet. What could be better!
As an additional note, it’s customary for people to clean the facilities while patrons are still rotating through them; a fact that might be even better than the fee itself. There is no feeling of power quite like forcing someone to watch you piss.
2 out of 5 stars
While the countries I visited did have their brief moments of brilliance, in the end I was faced repeatedly with the truth of what Europe really is: a place where the streets are almost devoid of the poor; where mass transit is easy, affordable, and commonplace; and where ordinary citizens are able to live beautiful, comfortable lives working ordinary jobs. In short, as an American, it’s the kind of place I want nothing to do with.