My Peter Pan Lifestyle - Pt 4
It wasn’t long until I was anointed with a nickname on the team. Honey Boo Boo. For context, “honey boo boo” comes from the American reality TV show on TLC “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” which centers around child beauty pageant contestant Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson and her colorful family’s adventures in the small town of McIntyre, Georgia. To put it crudely, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is the modern American freak show. Sugar Bear, Mama June, Pumpkin and the whole gang’s lifestyle put forth an image, as Forbes so delicately describes it, of “lice-picking, lard-eating, nose-thumbing hooligans south of the Mason-Dixon line”
There was nothing about me (or so I’d like to think) that was remotely Honey Boo Boo-esque. Our connection ran cold at both being American. And that was our one similarity that mattered here. I was “the American”, like it or not.
It was interesting how I automatically became a representative for a whole identity/place when I stepped into this environment in which I was one of the only ones of my kind. I constantly fielded questions about how America does this or that. When I would be in a coffee shop or on the bus and someone would ask me where I was from after hearing my accent, I would say the U.S. and nine out of ten times someone would ask about President Trump, expecting some thoughtful comment or explanation. Teammates wondered if I had met Beyonce (perhaps more of an LA thing). With this, I quickly became aware of my shortcomings as a source on all things U.S. I found myself trying -- and failing -- to explain the electoral college and trying -- and failing -- to explain Kanye West.
I have never considered myself a particularly patriotic or “ra-ra America” person but I sensed my relationship to “my” country shifting and becoming more noticeable on foreign soil. Sometimes it was in a critical or uneasy way such as during conversations with Swedes about their free healthcare and free college. Other times, I was filled with respect and pride for the U.S.
I’ll give a tough example. It felt a little bit weird to be out of country on...[read more]