Monday, May 02, 2005

I Ain't Irish, Dutch, Or Cantonese

Years ago my sister gave me a heavy-duty drink coaster—it is really a good one—that said "Southern…And Proud of It!" Sounds like good fun, huh? Except it was decorated with a civil war Confederate flag, something of which I am neither very proud nor very tolerant. I'm not that kind of Southern! Still, I can't bring myself to throw away a perfectly good coaster.

I'm An American Nothing And Proud Of It!

I can't imagine going through life being very conscious of being Irish or trying to make others conscious of it. Of course, I'm not Irish at all and that explains a good deal about that.

I've always just thought I was an American. As a child, I was conscious of being White here in the South, and maybe conscious of being Southern (ya'll see?). But I wasn't particularly conscious of being part English or German or being descended from people in Louisiana with some blonde hair and some Indian blood or, for that matter, of being half-cousin to a duckbill platypus. If I'm half a dozen other mixes of cat, dog, and pony as well, I don't know, but I also never cared. I was me. That other stuff was just a way of trying to get unearned credit, I always felt. I'm nothing in particular but me, dammit, and proud of it.

I grew up and went to unexceptional schools with no great traditions and took an exceptional degree of interest in books and educating myself and therefore didn't fit in too well with anyone, and this is the result. I didn't go around patting anyone on the back for being European like me or any kind of "whatever" like me. I always found a little suspect people with extreme cultural notions, patterns, mores, party affiliations, group drinking habits, or other traditions. These drones from the group had all these things that they'd never thought up, thought out, things they would never give up. Everybody had their Mommy and Daddy's God and sometimes they had the family drinking genes and the family hatreds as well. Everything was inherited, emulated, derived from the familiar and the pre-existing and the inarguable. Nobody quite learned anything, I always thought. As they grew up, they were taught what to think, not how. Children everywhere tend to get brainwashed, that's why there's smart little Chinese communist children as well as smart little capitalists. They didn't have to learn anything, if they had their own "cultural history" to wallow in. They didn't have to be anybody new—neither communism nor capitalism wants anyone to be that! Such people seemed almost as bad as fraternity boys, whom I have always considered as artificial and as homogeneous a group of "friends" as could possibly exist.

To paraphrase Groucho Marx:

I don't want to belong to any clubs, and I sure as hell don't want to belong to one that's stupid enough to think I'd make a good member!

If you want somebody that doesn't fit in, give me a call and I'll see if I can squeeze you in. I can start the day fresh and be refreshed by not fitting in with YOU. I've got nothing against you, or if I do, it's certainly won't be because you're Italian or Anglican or any sort of nationalistic, racial, or country club kind of tradition—it'll be because you have personally irritated the shit out of me!
I have to report for jury duty Monday, so if I'm not eliminated due to being a threat to the republic, I may have to serve. So there may be one or several fewer posts this week. I don't know. Or maybe I'll get a trial about ownership of a Tootsie Roll and the two guys will settle out of court at the last minute.

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