The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Dear Mary-Sue: Should expatriates do patriotism, even if it is July?

Mary-Sue Wallace, The Displaced Nation’s agony aunt, is back. Her thoughtful advice eases and soothes any cross-cultural quandary or travel-related confusion you may have. Submit your questions and comments here, or else by emailing her at

I hope you’re having a better July than I am, Mary-Suers. Ol’ Mary-Sue is not a happy bunny, let me tell you that, NOT A HAPPY BUNNY AT ALL. Some neighbor of mine — let’s for the sake of argument call him Gary Geshke, and while we’re at, let’s assume that this Gary Geshke was the most incompetent realtor in town, and let’s also assume that most of the women in the neighborhood wonder how Linda Geshke can stomach staying with him.

Whoops, I never finished my sentence. Anyway, this “Gary Geshke”  was struggling — as usual — to do the most basic tasks with just the tiniest of competency. This is the sort of guy you worry is going to chop off a toe when mowing his lawn. Well, he was having a fireworks party for the 4th and instead of blowing an arm off, as would be more in line with his reputation, he managed to have one of his fireworks land on my roof nearly causing the whole thing to burn down. Thankfully hubby Jake was quick on the scene before we nearly had a disaster on our hands the likes of which we haven’t seen since The Towering Inferno.

Gee, I could skin that guy alive. I know his wife sometimes visits The Displaced Nation, so if you have are reading this post, Linda, Gary is an ingrate.

Anyhow, I’m in a FOUL mood so let’s get the July questions over with quickly so I can get back to watching some soap operas as well as the marvelous summer barbecue that I am going to organize and pointedly not invite Gary and Linda to.

Yeah, you read that right, Linda!


Dear Mary-Sue,

I grew up Catholic in Northern Ireland, I was only too happy to get out of Belfast when the opportunity arose to take off for Canada came along.  I’d never have to deal with nonsense like The Glorious Twelfth.

That was before I realized Canadians are mad about Canada Day on July 1.

I know, I know, it could be worse. I could be in the heartland of American watching people wave flags on July 4, or in Paris on July 14, not able to cross the streets because of the Bastille Day pomp and circumstance. But what is it about July that makes people embrace their motherlands? I just don’t get it…

Brendan, Nova Scotia

Dear Brendan,

April is the wettest month. July is the most patriotic. November is the most miserable, but June is the sexiest. March is chaste while September is outrageous. May oftentimes pretends to be coy, while October smells like an old man’s pipe. January is nice-looking, but her acting in Mad Men was wooden.


Dear Mary-Sue,

As an Englishman in the United States on July 4th, I thought I should hide my accent. I made a few jokes about this to my American friends, but they didn’t seem to get it. They told me July 4 was for barbecues, so just have a hamburger and enjoy myself.

I ask you, did we fight a war or didn’t we?

Henry, Houston, Texas


I normally have time for Limeys, but I’m not in a great mood at the moment. Who does an agony aunt write to? That’s what I really want to know.

Anyway, on your minor case, I would say, “let it go.” People invited you into their homes. They were nice to you. They watered and fed you. Yes, they didn’t laugh at your jokes. Do people often laugh at your jokes? Seems like you were going for a way-too-obvious topic, so I would wager no. Hubby Jake makes me laugh because he does an amazing John McCain impression that’s always a hit at parties. Perhaps you could work on something similar. Or you could just be really clumsy and knock over a jug of Sangria — as seems to be Gary Geshke’s party trick.

Also, if you want everyone to start bringing up that time their country had a war with England, pretty soon the only people you’ll be able to speak to will be the Portuguese.


Dear Mary-Sue,

I’ve heard it said that you make the best 4th of July potato salad in the world. What is the recipe and method? Would love to try it. *hint,  hint, hint.*

Susie-May, Arizona

Aw shoot!


And you were doing so well in following the restraining order in not making any contact with me. First, there was the incident in Krogers on Tuesday — and now this! Also, don’t think I don’t know it wasn’t you who sent me some hair clippings in the post. That’s just weird Susie-May. Get a grip!

Anyhoo, it is true that my potato salad is the best. Secret is never use mayo. Mayo is the devil’s work. Or Paula Deen’s — one of the two.

Also don’t parboil the potatoes — that’s a rookie’s mistake. You just want to steam them. After steaming, crush them a bit, not too much. Then season them with salt and pepper. To that, add a dash of olive oil, a dash of cider vinegar, and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Then throw chopped up green onions and some fresh cilantro. Mix it all together and then squeeze some lemon juice over it before serving. (Gary and Linda Geshke wish they could have some of that!)

Anyhoo, that’s all from me readers. I’m so keen to hear about your cultural issues and all your juicy problems. Do drop me a line with any problems you have, or if you want to talk smack about Delilah Rene.

Mary-Sue is a retired travel agent who lives in Tulsa with her husband Jake. She is the best-selling author of Traveling Made Easy, Low-Fat Chicken Soup for the Traveler’s Soul, The Art of War: The Authorized Biography of Samantha Brown, and William Shatner’s TekWar: An Unofficial Guide. If you have any questions that you would like Mary-Sue to answer, you can contact her at, or by adding to the comments below.

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s Random Nomad, who is attempting an epic expedition…

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!

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