Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reintegration

We're moving back to the states in 3 short months. And it occurred to me I've become a bit Moroccanized living here. And that in order to reintegrate into American culture I need to start polishing myself. And I need to start now.



1. Teeth

Americans are obsessed with teeth. They must be brushed, flossed and straight. Oh yeah, and white. Really, really white. So I ordered some white strips from A-mar-i-kah. Because no one sells that crap here. Moroccans are simply grateful to have teeth that have not rotted out from drinking uber sugary teeth staining Moroccan mint tea. But I'm American, being grateful for what I have isn't enough. And now, the only thing coming between me and perfect little chiclet teeth is 10 days of putting a plastic strip laden with a non-toxic, enamel safe gel in my mouth that I should keep out of reach of children. And that makes me feel tingly inside. Well, inside my mouth. And not in a good way. But I think we all know the success of an American is judged by how well his or her teeth glow in the dark. And you get catapulted to Snooki status if they contrast with your spray tan.


2. TV

I've never been a watcher of sports, soap operas or reality tv shows. Which automatically, makes me pretty unamerican. But, I used to watch my fair share of news magazines and hgtv in the states. But since we've lived here in Africa, we don't have television. But what we do have is a lot of bootleg dvds in the medina. Not to mention free illegal downloads. (Mind you, not that I would know anything about either one.)Some time ago we acquired season one of the tv series How I Met Your Mother. I had never watched it in the states because seriously, is that not the worst title for show that is going to be more than one episode long? But one night, with nothing else to watch, we put it in. We're now completely addicted and currently starting season 6. So we will be able to catch all those How I Met Your Mother cultural references when we return. And I think we might be caught up on the whole series by the time we get home. Never mind the fact that I have no idea who won the Superbowl this year. Or who played. And I couldn't care less.

3. Social Graces

Soon after we moved here I dispensed with all unnecessary social graces. You know so I had room for all that French and Arabic I was going to learn. So now, I no longer have the instinctive reaction to bless someone when they sneeze here. Blessing someone here would require a lengthy explanation as to why we do that, but yet deny Americans with preexisting conditions health insurance. And I don't want to go there. Not only that, but I've gotten far more lax about other social graces. Like refraining from picking my nose in the car. After you get over laughing at the guy in the next car over for picking his nose. And then being grossed out by it. Then you move to a level of acceptance where removing that obstructing flake basically equates to scratching an itch. And everyone else does it here. Why not? I imagine this is the kind of thing that self corrects after that first humiliating nose pick back in the states when I remember that people can actually see you do embarrassing things through translucent car windows.

4. Music

I have come to truly appreciate Arabic music. Even though I usually have no idea what the song is about. This is big for me, because as Craig would tell you, I have the most narrow taste in music. I don't like country, nor western. I don't like techno or dance. I hate rap. And I abhor pop. And we do get non-Arabic music here. We get some frap (french rap), although I call that crap. Of course we get pop. And even though a lot of these songs are in English, I usually assume they're locally produced and written by a non-English speaker because they're too bad to be international sensations. But then just yesterday I saw a video for the song International Love in an ice cream shop. Wow, that's a real (crappy) song! I did however, buy an Adele cd recently, but Jade has hijacked it and keeps it in her room and I have a feeling I'll never see (or hear) it again. At least she's not listening to (f)rap!

5. Personal Hygiene

Americans are very sensual. And we like it everywhere. In our car. At home. No. No. That's not what I meant. I mean we're scentual. Like everything must have a scent. And that starts with our bodies. Oh, and that smell must be a pleasant smell. Something like baby powder fresh or mountain fresh. Emphasis on the fresh. Which probably means I should start using deodorant again. But before I do that I should probably start shaving my pits again. And I can't decide which of these things Americans would find more vile. Hairy pits or stinky pits. Therefore I should do both. Sometime. Before June.

6. Queing Up

I used to know how to stand in a line before I moved here. I also used to know the rules of the road and who had the right of way. Now I just don't care. Because if I did care and I was polite, I wouldn't get anywhere. I'm pretty sure I can stand in a line without elbowing people because I'm pretty sure I'm just doing that in self defense. And no full blooded American is going to allow you cut them in line. But, I'm going to be really honest here, I don't know that I can go back to following road rules again. I wasn't so good at it the first 20 something years. And it's been extremely liberating. It's like I'm Danica Patrick here, but I don't have to stay on a stupid oval track. I don't have to stop for police. And I never come it last. Ever. And it's totally freakin' awesome! I'm just wondering how long I can go before I get a ticket. And how long it will take the cop to catch up with me.


So I guess things are looking a bit bleak for a seamless reentry. The only thing I've got going for me are those teeth whitening strips. But I forgot to tell you that Ember opened some of them and pasted them in the sink. Which at least my sink is all clean. And white. But it's probably really sensitive.

Just like my teeth are.



This picture is for my dad who endured lots of orthodontist bills for braces, rubber bands, head gears and a retainer. Even though I chewed gum, snuck nuts, gorged on caramel when you and mom weren't looking. Nice teeth are the one thing I got that makes me an acceptable American. Well, half American. And half acceptable...

19 comments:

Chantel said...

"Frappin, sensual, pearly fanged Americans!" I don't know what made me laugh harder, the nose picking or the hairy pits...

Shari said...

Great post! Thanks for the smile!

PS.. your blog button is not working. =(

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Funny post. I haven't left the country in years but I relate to a few of these. I drink so much tea that my teeth refuse to whiten (and I'm afraid of those white strips). And I just got two Adele CDs for my birthday...the first new artist I've heard and liked since about 1995.

SherilinR said...

i would have to say that smell would be more offensive than hair. because hair can be covered by wearing shirts with sleeves or just keeping your arms down, whereas stench is the gift that keeps on giving to all the people around you.
stock up on some deoderant and tissues for those need-to-pick moments.

Kara said...

I say if you already know that bleached teeth contrasting with a spray tan catapults you into Snooki status, than you're well on your way to reintegration. ;)

Cerebrations.biz said...

You could just rinse your mouth with hydrogenperoxide a few times a day....

Rachel Howells said...

As expected, funny, smart and entertaining, but what really stood out for me was this little nugget of sagacity: But I'm American, being grateful for what I have isn't enough.

You are wise. :-)

The Loerzels said...

@Chantel- I know right?
@Shari-Oh crap, I don't know how to fix it.
@BOG-Adele is awesome!
@Sherilin-I see your point!
@Kara-I dread knowing even more about Snooki than I already do when I get home. Ugh.
@Roy-You're right. If I could get that here.
@Rachel-You found my most intentional line of the post. I'm glad you did and that you liked it :)

Sine said...

Hilarious. I must say, I almost didn't read it based on the title, cause I've been reading some expat sites lately that offer you a 10-step program for reintegration or some such horrible stuff. I should have known better that you'd come through and make me laugh:-)

quilt happy said...

i laughed till i cried

Dangerous Linda said...

WoW! Are you excited to return, or depressed? Maybe a little of both??? Can't imagine...

Stuart Nager said...

Don't forget all the belly dancing friends you'll be able to make when you're back!!! There are a few places hairy arm pits are accepted in the states; they have special clubs for that now.

Lucy Patterson said...

Only half acceptable? Surely not! Pwoooaar...what's that smell?...

Thom Brown said...

One of my favorite things after being abroad is when the passport guy looks at me and says, "Welcome Home."

jesterqueen said...

Wait. You're saying there's someplace on Earth I'd be considered NORMAL???? Morocco here I come. Oh. Wait. Travel expenses. No job. Sigh.

Suniverse said...

Please, please, PLEASE do not go for the ridiculous uber-whitening of the teeth. Straight? Sure, fine. But day-glo? Must stop.

Love this post - here via Kara.

Joy Page Manuel said...

THANK YOU for this post, Marie!! You rock! You successfully pointed out the Americans' obsession with 'perfection', superficial perfection, that is....white, fresh, uber clean, and hairless, but ONLY in the 'right' places, as dictated by the beauty and fashion industries of course. My favorite part: "Blessing someone here would require a lengthy explanation as to why we do that, but yet deny Americans with preexisting conditions health insurance." LOL!

Barbara said...

WWW - wow wise woman!
If something has to be kept outside the reach of children, how can it be any good for an adult?

MuMuGB said...

I totally understand. If I were to go back to France I would freak out. First if all, I would have to get skinny again, and I don't like feeling hungry, then I could not wear my husband's socks any more because women have to have tights in all circumstances in Paris.
You got used to a different lifestyle. Nothing wrong with that!

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