My wife and I had a nice dinner at my parents. My brother, neice, uncle, and two aunts were there too. Somehow, overseas was brought up (it always is), and my father told the age old story of being in Hungry (during the Warsaw Pact era, 1970′s) and seeing jackets for sale for “Oklagoma” University. No, that’s not a typo on my part. They manufacturers got “Oklahoma” wrong. And that’s not the only thing. Back then, with no internet, Europeans have sold merchandise for baseball teams called the “Boston Yankees” and the “New York Red Sox.” The goal, of course, was to sell something that LOOKED American to people who didn’t know any better. Typical. Here’s a two other instances of misunderstanding….
–The guy at the Poznan, Poland train station, who was decked out head to toe in blue jeans — denim hat, denim shirt, denim jacket, and denim slacks. He tried to hustle my family into letting him carry our bags for tips in hard Dollars (the Zloty’s value had fallen into the toilet). I look I come from Bronx? Um. No. This was 1991/92. Jeans were a rare commodity, and a huge “American” item in Eastern Europe, and after the fall of the Iron Curtain, I was told Jeans were a status thing. That’s why we made a point to not wear them before we got on the train.
–My father used to travel to Saudi Arabia on business during the 1990′s. London Central was one of the few boarding schools in DODDS, and families serving in Saudi Arabia often chose to board their high school age teenagers, rather than subject them to a harsh host nation / Wahabi society (This is a place where bacon, on base had to be referred to as “Breakfast Meat” — as to not subject the Saudis to the thought that pork was being eaten in their country. Never mind that this was on base, very far from Saudi eyes.) Anyhow, one Saudi man, while trying to show his cultural understanding to my father, chose to sing Disney show tunes.