A couple hours ago, my friend and I were crossing the street here in Paris, and these guys pull over in their car and ask for directions (from my friend, the only man standing there, which I guess is why they asked him) in French. We look at them blankly, and my friends says, “Sorry, American.” At which point, the teenage girl standing next to us grins and yells, “Yes we can!”
Thank you, Obama, for making traveling overseas a lot more fun. Not that it wasn’t fun before, but electing Obama has had a noticeable effect on how people regard you when they realize you’re an American, and especially when they find out you’re a Texan. This sort of interaction has happened more times than I could count in the past week and a half:
European person: Where are you from?
Me and/or my friends: The U.S., Texas, actually.
European person, making skeptical face: Well, Barack Obama…..
American swine: We LOVE Obama. We voted for him. Fuck George Bush.
European person: Do you think Obama is all that? (some variation of this, at least)
Swine flu-free Americans: We sure do hope so!
European person smiles, likes us.
The only difference between England and France with regards to this interaction is how well the person in question speaks English, which changes how much the “thumbs up” gesture is involved.
Not to overplay this or anything, because no matter how much people I’ve met are anxious to see something new and different from Obama, they still act like it’s the politics from “over there”, roughly like the attitude I have about the current situation in India. Which is that it’s interesting, and obviously it’s important to me and to the world, but it’s out of my hands. We all know about how unpopular Republicans are in Europe, even though Europeans have their own conservative parties that they elect all the time, but it’s still pretty amazing to me how often our new President comes up in just random conversation here.