My younger brother is in town, with one of the more glorious beards I have seen in some time. He’s even been staying with me. Because he’s been staying with me, we’ve been trying to get out and about, clearly being out and about is better than being stuck in my tiny little apartment. Especially considering he managed to pop the air-mattress and instead has been getting to know the quality that is IKEA futons.
Being out and about though puts me in contact with new people. And I am a judgmental and impatient person. It happens. I go with my gut and make snap decisions on people very quickly. As a general rule I don’t really change my mind after that first impression which I’m pretty sure makes me a bad person. Interestingly enough, I have a habit of saying awkward things while chewing on my foot so I am actually quite thankful that people aren’t nearly as judgmental of me as I am of them. Again, I’m pretty sure this makes me a bad person.
Last night was no different as we ended up being stereotypical tourists and grabbed a drink in Gamla Stan. There was plenty of English being spoken at the surrounding tables and we ended up sliding on over to another table making friends. Which is when I realized I didn’t really want to make friends.
Because I was met with one of those stereotypes that I try to avoid dealing with. The American stereotype. Brash. Obnoxious. Oozing better-than-you-ness. I admit, I am more than capable of those qualities. However, I work my ass off when abroad to not exhibit those qualities. I work my ass off to not give people a reason to dislike America based on the actions of one person. I know it doesn’t make a big difference, but I like being American, and I want others to feel the same way. Fulfilling those negative stereotypes does not help. And he wasn’t helping.
Outside he began yelling for lighters at random passersby then freely admitted to doing so only to be “loud and obnoxious.” Notice the quotes. They are there for a reason.
At one point in our limited conversation, his better-than-you-ness really came shining through with his discussion about working for a well-known company. Which turned out was not well-known. And was run by his mother. That was about enough for me. Luckily, it seemed enough for him to as he stole a cigarette from an unguarded pack and immediately ran out the bar.
I know that booze can turn normally good people into assholes. I know that one too many stor starks will lower the inhibitions and raise the volume level. I know that. The difference is that as an American those actions become very visible. Maybe more so to me, because three years of living here has made me very sensitive to that visibility. But you’re not helping. You are not helping.
Welcome to Sweden. And an over-served American.
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