M Otis Beard's Russian Travelogue
26844 Curiosities served
2002-06-15 3:31 PM
Adios, Joe Sixpack
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Presenting people (especially strangers) with alien ideas or circumstances in order to elicit poorly thought-out (and therefore honest) reactions has always been something of a hobby of mine... once, for example, I spent the better part of an afternoon trying unsuccessfully to give away a quarter while strolling down Market Street in San Francisco. Go ahead and call it pointless, immature tomfoolery (though some prefer the term "assholism"); I like to think of it as a mixture of amateur psychology and Situationist performance art. Sure, it's more fun than a traditionally academic approach might be, but shouldn't a man enjoy his work?
My many years of dedicated experimentation along these lines has given me a pretty sharp eye for knee-jerk responses in general, even when I'm not deliberately trying to induce them. Case in point: the curiously inane comments I've been rewarded with during casual chats in which I introduce the subject of my impending move to Russia.
Let me just state for the record that, in spite of all the advantages of living in the midst of fabulous wealth and advanced technology, the average American remains an utter unreconstructed troglodyte. This is not to say that other parts of the world do not harbor vast numbers of clueless, mouth-breathing barbarians, but Americans are special in this regard, as they have so little excuse for their retardedly provincial mindset. Mr. Joseph Sixpack of Anytown, USA has an income and an access to education and information beyond the wildest dreams of any click-talking Kalihari bushbaby, and yet Mr. Sixpack would be unable to find water in the desert even if he had a map, an SUV, a GPS, a Palm Pilot with a wireless Internet connection, and three lifelines (to be fair, Joe prefers to drink Budweiser and Big Gulps anyway, and is quite skilled at locating 7-11 franchises).
The sheer savage pig-ignorance one finds in America, being swaddled so cozily and securely in tremendous affluence as it is, has a special quality to it, a certain savor that is lacking in the national character of all other peoples on Earth (mainly because I don't consider Canadians a "people" any more than I consider the subset of U.S. citizens who are very boring and talk funny about hockey to be a nation unto themselves. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and lives in North America... quack quack, Canada!). Americans have always been innovative, and the mixture of relative affluence and blank-slate trendiness that doggedly prevails in the post-post-modern West has, in recent generations, produced a style of transcendent ignorance that knows no bounds, acknowledges no higher authority, and will brook no insubordination... a style that can be summed up nicely as "STEP ASIDE AN' GIMME MY PROPS 'CUZ I DA MAN, BEEYOTCH! WORD!"
But I digress. Forgive me, but I've been chafed and intellectually victimized by American thudheadedness for just a little too long now to stop myself from ranting.
Back to the subject at hand: when I mention my intentions to expatriate, I am often met with comments like these:
"Dude, are you some kind of Communist or something? 'Sup, fool?"
"But dog, I heard there's no food in Russia!"
"You don't want to go there, yo! The government in Russia is run by criminals!"
And my favorite, always delivered unassailably with a knowing nod and smile:
"You'll be back, homey."
Yes, Joe Sixpack, you're absolutely right. The Soviet Union only *pretended* to fail, and Russian capitalism is just a Commie trick intended to lull us into a false sense of security. There's no food in Russia at all, and Muscovites actually subsist on some mysterious energy that is gathered by standing in bread lines at stores where there is no bread (this works so well that, as you've also told me many times, all Russian women are fat, dumpy weightlifters). The Russian government is, as you say, run by criminals, making it totally unlike all other governments in the world. And, no doubt, as you've asserted approximately twelve kajillion godzillion quinsquillion times in the last three months, I will assuredly become acutely homesick within minutes of my arrival in Russia, and will either return in great haste to the good ol' US of A (where I will passionately soul-kiss the tarmac upon deplaning at JFK), or end up spending the bulk of my waking hours mooning around inconsolably at the McDonald's franchise near Red Square (possibly the only source of food in the entire country, unless you count vodka as a food).
I'd send you a postcard, Joe Sixpack, but I'll probably be forced to use all my postcards as toilet paper. Sorry, dog.
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