Life Tip #271

The American Idiot: This next Life Tip is for anyone who might find themselves in the position of the “American Idiot.” I own the rare distinction of experiencing my two most embarrassing moments within the same 24-hour period. They both happened in Europe. I guess our most embarrassing moments are more likely to occur when we are out of our element in foreign countries.

This American Idiot’s first embarrassing moment happened in none other than Amsterdam. (And no, this was not the same trip where I got lost on the tour bus.) This particular trip involved three naive American GIs renting a car with a plan to hit the bars of Amsterdam for the night, crash in a cheap hotel, then return the next day. We thought we’d hit the jackpot of bars in terms of beautiful women, only to discover hours later that we were the only three men in a lesbian bar. That’s most embarrassing moment number one.

The second embarrassing moment occurred the next morning when, upon leaving The Netherlands, there was a little incident in crossing the border back into Belgium. The border guards deemed it necessary to perform a strip search on my friends and I that involved some very—ahem—compromising positions.

And that’s how you get your two most embarrassing moments in a 24-hour period. It’s just that quick and easy.

I actually experienced a third American Idiot move that same year, which involved nearly walking into a marriage trap. I had just arrived in Belgium at my duty station of Florennes Air Base, and I suppose I was too new to know any better. I met a Belgian girl at a local dance club one night, and got a little closer to her than I should have. Her next move was to invite me to “meet the family” the next weekend on their family farm.

I learned from a fellow serviceman that such an invitation, in Belgian culture, was the first big step in a formal marriage courtship. Luckily, I learned this early enough to cancel my “date” with the family. Even luckier, perhaps, was that she had no way to access me as long as I remained on the Air Force base. I did have to avoid that night club, however, and basically hide on the base for the next several months. How lame, right?

The Life Tip for these three incidents, I suppose, is that you need to prepare as best as you can for the unknown when venturing into other countries. Do your best to learn the culture of the place you are going, lest you be labeled an American Idiot like me.

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