I will take the liberty of addressing some American oddities that, despite a twenty-two-year involvement, linger in my mind. First of all, though, let me express my gratitude to the most-appreciated American contributions to my life: Duct tape and WD-40!
Wilfried F. Voss is the author of The Bleeding Hills. For more information see his website at http://wilfriedvoss.com.
Well, I am not in the business of fishing for compliments, congratulations, or similar trivialities, but January 8 is not only Stephen Hawking's and David Bowie's birthday, but also that of yours truly - a little younger, though, than my fellow birthday celebrants. Time for a little review...
Just the other day I found a quote, "I learned from my mistakes, and I intend to make a few more in my life," and that, pretty much, is my view on life. One of the biggest mistakes in my life was that I hadn't left my native country, Germany, sooner. Yes, I was born and raised in Germany, and at some time during my professional life I was temporarily transferred to my employer's US branch in Enfield, Connecticut. That "temporary" assignment was to last for eight months, and that was twenty-two years ago. Since then, I have lived in New England, got married to an Irish-American red-haired woman, and in 2007 we were blessed with the arrival of our son Patrick (who is, of course, an American citizen). And by the way, the business I worked for, including its American branch, doesn't exist anymore...
Since it was my birthday, I will take the liberty of addressing some American oddities that, despite a twenty-two-year involvement, linger in my mind. First of all, though, let me express my gratitude to the most-appreciated American contributions to my life: Duct tape and WD-40! Without these items, it would almost be impossible to maintain proper living standards in the United States of America. However...
- I still cringe when I am forced to eat hot dogs - poor animals! Unfortunately, it's a staple at each and every social occasion, paired with original American dressing (= ketchup).
- I love football. American football, that is. I do not refer to original football, commonly known as "soccer." So, I do understand the enthusiasm, and I understand that Joe Montana was more than just an extraordinary quarterback. But, really, was it necessary to name an entire state after him?
- I still have a problem with gift stores. "Gift" is the German word for "poison" - and I kid you not.
- I hate.. let me emphasize that... I HATE frosting! Artificial colors paired with extreme sweetness. Hello, obesity and welcome, heart-attack! Well, my son has a habit of eating the frosting off a cup-cake (without using his hands) and leaving the actual cake section alone. On the other hand, when given the choice between a cookie or a carrot, he goes for the carrot. He also loves broccoli. These were his own choices, meaning we are not vegetarians or health-freaks who force an innocent child to eat healthy.
- I have been driving in rush hour traffic in Rome, Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Hongkong, Melbourne, Sidney, Dublin, Amsterdam, and many more big cities, but, without an iota of a doubt, the worst drivers in the world come from Greenfield, Massachusetts (Take a wild guess where I currently live...).
- Here comes the worse... American "beer," designed not for taste but to support an efficient manufacturing process, which includes using the cheapest ingredients (for instance, rice instead of barley). Just be aware, an ice-cold beer literally numbs the taste buds (and that's no joke), so the taste of the "beer" doesn't really apply. And yes, there are a great number of micro breweries in the country, and, whenever presented with the opportunity, I do enjoy them. When offered a Budweiser, Coors, Miller, or any other soda water filled with all kinds of chemicals (= preservatives), I opt for a good wine.
Now that these concerns are out of my system, it's time to mail my application for American citizenship...