Europe’s Missing Points

For over a year now I have lived in Europe. While still an American, I do find myself uttering Euro phrases, using certain hand gestures only found in Europe, swearing primarily in Italian (so much more fun), slowing down perhaps a tiny, tiny bit, appreciating quality over quantity, and so on.
I feel at home, reasonably understand the system and feel like I can get just about anything done.

Yet each time we see Hollywood movies here, especially with Italian friends, I am reminded that I am quite different.
Marianna and I were watching Juno the other night and suddenly she gasped, “Oh my God, what is that?” I’d noticed nothing out of the ordinary but Marianna had zeroed in on something new to her, old to me. The massive Super Tanker filled with slurpy that little Juno was carrying in the film.
1. It was a 2 liter container of something to drink
2. It was a blue beverage
3. Slurpy?

“But why do you need something so large?” – I had no answers. In my head I was imagining all of the many people I see driving around in the US with super sized cokes between their legs, eating Big Macs while steering with their knees.

These daily reminders keep me honest, I never tire of studying the culture and comparing it to my own – it is one of the true joys of living in a foreign land. And to hear from Italians their impression of the US after they visit, is something precious. There is no shortage of laughter comparing cultures, and there is plenty to work with given the state of the US at the moment, and of course Italy is a never ending supply of comedy.

But for a year now something has been absent, something from my own roots that until today, I have not understood. This feeling, this visual component of American life that has been missing but I didn’t fully understand was missing, finally came clear as we watched another Hollywood movie.
The Big Lebowski is missing in Europe.
I don’t just mean the Big Lebowski himself, I mean the potential to have a Big Lebowski, to see them each day you go to town to buy milk. They don’t exist here. Ditto for Clint Eastwood, you just don’t see the Dirty Harry types. Lots of George Michaels, but sadly, no Eastwood.

These figures are products of the American culture. Anything goes, do what you want, do what it takes to get it done and screw you if you don’t like my style.
Janine and I’s own business, PatitucciPhoto, is a direct result of this lifestyle, this attitude and this freedom we have, not any freedom provided to us from the US government, but the freedom we Americans have in our thinking. If we want to go to the grocery store in our bathrobe, we can. In Europe, one can incorporate magenta and teal lycra into their wardrobe just fine, but wearing flip flops with jeans is something best left to savages. Finally, if we need to live in our VW Westfalia to make our business work, then so be it.
There have been a few instances where we have explained to our friends here that we did indeed live in a vehicle. From their reaction it was obvious they considered us barbarians, perhaps rightfully so. But to an American, “Hey, whatever, you did what it took to make it work.”

And just for the record, I would never go to the grocery store in my bathrobe.


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