Another in our series focusing on little moments of expat experience — moments that at the time seemed pifflingly insignificant.
As far as I can gather, the main advantage of Independence Day for many people seems to be the opportunity to dust off and wear that stars-and-stripes leather jacket that they bought back in 1979.
Wishing to get into the Independence Day spirit, it was clear that I also needing something “appropriate” to wear if I wanted to blend in successfully so I headed over to Target, a fine American corporation that would hopefully have even finer American clothing for me to purchase.
Finding the Target employee that looked the most patriotic — the telltale signs are a sensible haircut, good posture, and a strong jaw line — I asked where I might find the most patriotic T-shirts in store. Leading me to a selection of T-shirts featuring the stars and stripes, it was difficult for me to contain my disappointment with this somewhat anemic selection.
“Hmmm, do you have anything more patriotic?” I asked.
The patriotic youth seemed a little confused, a look that made him seem increasingly un-American.
“I was,” I said, “looking for something with a little more pizzazz. Something more OTT. I was kinda hoping you’d have one where Jesus is cradling the liberty bell while a bald eagle looks down approvingly?”
He just stared back at me. I’d been wrong about him. His jaw line was not as strong as I’d thought, his posture a little crooked, and his hair-style now I was closer was greasy and ostentatious.
“Why would we have that?” he sneered.
“Because you love this country — that’s why!”Though difficult, I tried to calm myself down and keep my temper in check. “Okay, have you got anything with a bald eagle in full flight in front of the stars and stripes, but, and this is the important bit, with a kick-ass explosion going on behind the flag? No? Nothing?”
“Have you tried Wal-Mart?”
I wandered off disappointed. This must have been how Benedict Arnold felt. You try and give this American lark a try, but you just end up getting kicked in the teeth. And that was when I saw the above little number, which I decided would from now on be my Independence Day T-shirt.
A version of this post first appeared on Culturally Discombobulated
STAY TUNED for Thursday’s post, in which Kate Allison debunks some common myths about the UK vs the USA.
If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to register for The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with seasonal recipes, book giveaways and other extras. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!
What a great post! I–an American–spent last 4th of July sitting at an American School in Cairo, Egypt. Despite it being an “American” school, no one seemed to realize it was Independence Day….
Thanks for the comment.
That’s odd. Looking back on my teachers I’m almost certain in that situation they would have used July 4th as an opportunity to throw away their lesson plan and spend the next hour making a clumsy analogy between American Independence and the Arab Spring.