I pledge allegiance to the bag- by humorist David Sedaris

An Excerpt
I Pledge Allegiance to the Bag
ONE OF THE DRAWBACKS to living in Paris is that people often refer to you as an expatriate, occasionally shortening the word to an even more irritating "ex-pat." It is implied that anything might take you to London or Saint Kitts, but if you live in Paris, it must be because you hate the United States.

What can I say? There may be bands of turncoats secretly plotting to overthrow their former government, but I certainly haven't run across them. I guess we don't shop at the same boutiques. The Americans I've befriended don't hate the United States, they simply prefer France for one reason or another. Some of them married French people or came here
for work, but none of them viewed the move as a political act.

Like me, my American friends are sometimes called upon to defend their country, usually at dinner parties where everyone's had a bit too much to drink. The United States will have done something the French don't like, and people will behave as though it's all my fault. I'm always taken off guard when a hostess accuses me of unfairly taxing her beef. Wait a minute, I think. Did I do that? Whenever my government refuses to sign a treaty or decides to throw its weight around in NATO, I become not an American citizen but, rather, America
itself, all fifty states and Puerto Rico sitting at the table with gravy on my chin.

I'd never thought much about how Americans were viewed overseas until I came to France and was expected to look and behave in a certain way. "You're not supposed to be smoking," my classmates would tell me."You're from the United States." Europeans expected me to regularly wash my hands with prepackaged towelettes and to automatically reject all unpasteurized dairy products. If I was thin, it must be because I'd
recently lost the extra fifty pounds traditionally cushioning the standard American ass. If I was pushy, it was typical; and if I wasn't, it was probably due to Prozac.

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2009/02/11 01:04:03

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