We Americans love Chuck Norris jokes. I learned that this week. My first reaction was, “Chuck Norris, isn’t he dead?”. I don’t think it’s right to tell jokes about dead people. Then I realize, no, that’s Gary Busey. No one was tougher than that guy in Walking Tall. Or was that Joe Don Baker? Joe Don was a one hit movie wonder. Kinda the Tony Orlando and Dawn of the bad guy/good guy movie genre. Then it hit me, Bruce Lee is dead. I knew it was somebody tough.
I enjoy learning about myself as an American and the United States as a country thru the eyes of others. It’s an interesting and surreal experience. Particularly when told to me with all the earnestness a person can muster. “Really, I know this, you American’s are all ________!”.
First, and I learned this in Argentina, we’re all rich. I tried to dispute this only to be corrected, “I know what I’m talking about, I watch the OC.”. At the time (and in fact to this day), I had never seen the OC. That’s short for Orange County. Once I learned the acronym, ’nuff said. Very few TV shows are filmed in Iowa or Kansas or Nebraska. Unless, of course, Paris Hilton agrees to live there on a farm. But I think that distorts things a bit.
More recently, I learned we’re not all rich. Many of us are, in fact, quite poor. That helped. It explained the guy living under the bridge. It didn’t make sense to me why a rich guy lived under a bridge. I’m glad it’s been clarified. But I’m gonna sit this debate out. I’ll let the “we’re all rich” fight it out with the “there’s a lot of poor” and see if we can get some consensus. Honestly, I’ve lived in Detroit. I know exactly how rich and poor we are. No need to explain.
We’re a bit gun obsessed. I’ve never owned a gun. I’ve never even touched a gun. On this one, it’s easier to just smile and nod. Plus, it keeps people guessing. As long as the belief exists I might be gun obsessed, people don’t mess with me. Get me riled, and I’ll pull that cute little Colt 45 I got for Christmas out of my purse. Then things are going to get interesting. I like to leave people thinking maybe, just maybe, that possibility exists.
We buy a lot of stuff. I hear this mainly from people who never saw my car and haven’t yet noticed my clothes. I’m not much of a fashionista. This week in French, we started a new unit on “consumerism”. My six Slovak peer students and my teacher all looked at me when the new unit was announced. I told ‘le professeur’, “Sit down buddy, I’ll take it from here.”. Somehow though, I feel like a fake. They look to me for really good shopping stories and I struggle. I’m letting them down, and worse, I’m letting my country down.
So there you have it. I’m a rich American living in a refrigerator box under a bridge buying a new gun on my i-phone right after I call my friends to tell them the latest Chuck Norris joke. It doesn’t make me angry. It’s kind of cute. It makes me realize the impact American TV shows and movies have on the world. It’s how we are known. And sometimes, let’s be honest with reality TV, we deserve what we get. Thank God Ozzie Osborne is so obviously English.
I grew up in a different time where it was easier to differentiate fact from fiction. You knew that astronauts didn’t marry the tiny little bikini clad Jeannie living in a bottle. Nobody’s neighbor was really a martian and nobody’s mother was really a car. Nuns didn’t fly when a strong wind got a hold of their head-gear. No families lived in outer space and no starship enterprise was commanded by a guy with cute pointy ears. We didn’t get confused on our identify. TV was silly and a form of escapism. It was never “reality”.
Two of my kids tell me Chuck Norris jokes have been around forever “where have you been, Mom?”. I’ve been busy. I was working and raising three kids – two of whom turned into Chuck Norris joke cracking wise guys. They tell me a bridge is going to be built over the Moravia River into Austria. The Slovaks voted to name the bridge “Chuck Norris”. But that’s never gonna work. Ain’t nobody gonna cross Chuck Norris.
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