Another marathon travel day where we missed both connections movie style – the family runs up the stairs with the train in sight only to see it pull away as we reach the platform. To pass the time, our greatest form of entertainment is setting items on our sleeping children and taking pictures.
On the train there is plenty of time to ponder our experiences but also certain questions about Europeans. There was a facebook post recently about questions a European had about America; here are some Friend family question for Europe.
1. Why do you smoke so much? Walking down the street is an exercise in navigation and safety. We have to dodge the lit cigarettes that are casually held to the side of pedestrians. Our family has inhaled more second hand smoke in 2 months than they will for the rest of their lives.
2. Pay Toilets? I cannot get used to this. The horror of fumbling for the right change on top of biological uncomfortableness does not endear one to your continent. And I just feel weird giving a lady a 50Euro piece to go – Will she physically restrain me if I try to get in without paying. However, Yay capitalism!
3. Do you know how to wait in line? Or take turns? This is a rhetorical question because the answer is, no. Any time there is a line or group heading towards a common area, you can’t seem to understand order. Our group of 6 usually starts together and by the front of the line or the desitnation someone is in the middle of us. You are all a bunch of cutters. You don’t deserve a cool word like “queue”.
4. Why to ladies dye their hair red? Red hair is great – but you choose the most unnatural shades. It is not an exaggeration to estimate 10% of the entire female European population has dyed their hair poorly in a red shade. Ladies, your friends, partners and your own eyes are deceiving you – it does not look any better than your natural hair color.
5. What is modesty for men? It is not concealing yourselves when you do your business. This may be a reaction to pay toilets – men refuse to give up .50 when they can just turn away, anywhere. Perhaps we should be happy that they turn away. Although we may just be prudes. All the Friend ladies had their sensibilities scrambled when we had to wait in line in a unisex bathroom. Ladies had to wait while men just walked up to the urinals, right next to the ladies waiting in line. But at least they were using a restroom rather than contribution to the sewer smell of select streets.
6. Have you not discovered washcloths? We are staying in an apartment where, for the first time, they have washcloths. maybe they are just denied to tourists. But seriously, how do you remove make-up or get a good scrub?
7. Is there a 5 second rule about public nudity? In America, save for nursing mothers, public nudity is a felony. Here, there is some kind of 5 second rule, you can be naked but only for 5 seconds. If you are at the beach and it is time to change back into your clothes – do it right on the beach. Not under your towel or behind a friend wall – just right out in the open. (This is applicable to all ages)
8. Why so much PDA? I’m not sure that this question can be answered as there is obviously no concept of Public Displays of Affection in Europe. More than once we have had to reframe a nice photo of the kids at a public monument to ensure the ‘snogging’ couple in the back ground is strategically hidden. We are used to bored people texting or playing a mindless game on their iPhone, here it’s make-out time. Don’t ask Brenna about the couple she saw in Madrid – she’s still trying to deal with it.
9. Why don’t you like peanut butter? this is a high protein jar of goodness yet it is not carried anywhere – or if it is, it is astronomically priced. Are you all allergic? Seriously, if you are going to be a peanut free zone you should advertise the fact – there are quite a few Americans who consider that environment, Mecca..
10. Why do you love ABBA so much? Not a day goes by that we don’t hear ABBA on the radio or blasting through a store. ABBA broke up 30 years ago and through their geriatric facility interviews have confirmed repeatedly that they are NEVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER. There are plenty of other fine musical groups, contemporary groups, that deserve more air time and devotion.