Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Ugly American

Hi all,
I'm pissed. Enraged is actually a more accurate term, really. Throughout my stay in Germany, I have endeavored to stay clear of the "Ugly American" tourist stereotype. I have been pleasantly surprised that I had not run into any...until tonight.

Claudia's older brother and father came to visit this weekend. So, naturally, Eric gave them a city tour today and after dinner called me up to come and be social. We met at Bismarckplatz, a nice square with two fountains that is surrounded by a few bars. Naturally a college student hotspot. Claudia's dad had been wandering around on his own for a while and met up with us a little later. At around 10, we went on a trek to search for ice cream. Our first choice was unfortunately closed, so we went to the little place by my dorm. Andreas (Claudia's brother) wanted to go to the stone bridge and see the Danube. So Eric led the way, taking a little side trip to see the Don Juan statue. Afterwards, we cut through a side alley (really just a narrow, but well lit street with restaurants and pubs on either side). There were two guys in suits that I guessed to be around their mid to late twenties. As we approached, happily licking away on our ice cream cones, we heard one guy telling the other guy:

"Shit...MAN! We're supposed to stay at their hotel with them tonight!"

They were both at least tipsy and obviously aggravated. Since it was a narrow street, Andreas took the lead, with Eric and then Me, finally with Claudia's father at the back. Suddenly, and without any provocation the same guy starts hurling insults at Andreas. Now, he had a deep south accent and among other things called him a "lollypop licking faggot", and then threw out the "N" word (excuse my appalling language, but it's impossible to express the crudity and hpow appalling the situation was otherwise). Eric and I stopped dead in our tracks, shocked by this outbreak. Andreas completely tuned them out. However, Eric said (in a very mild mannered and non-antagonistic voice)

"Excuse me?"

The guy replied:
"You speak English?!?!?!"

"We are Americans."

At this point, his friend stepped in and told either him or us to just let it go. I had kept my mouth firmly shut, as the last similar incident I experienced to this drifted through my brain (the slightly infamous mini-golf fiasco) and Nate's (my older brother) advice echoed in my mind.
He'd basically told me that I should simply shut up, as anything I say is bound to make a male not take anything out on me, but instead on another guy; essentially picking a fight for him. Since a confrontation is the last thing we wanted (although I'd sure as hell be in on it), we just kept on walking.

Awkward and embarrassed silence hung thickly for a few minutes until we bumped into Kayla on her way to a bar. Still not saying much we made it to the stone bridge where Eric broke the silence by expressing his embarrassment over the situation and for the Americans who give others a bad name. Andreas shrugged it off saying that it didn't matter to him - no matter what nationality people are, he just chooses to ignore it. His father pretty much agreed with him.

However, I still find it deeply shameful and I almost wish I would have had the opportunity to help kick their asses. I hope that they weren't military guys (although I slightly suspect they were), because as a direct representation of America their actions were appalling. Equally so if they were civilians, and inexcusable either way. However, since we handled the situation in a mature manner, I am expressing my rage to you.

Hope your nights go better than mine,

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