Look legit

  The most awesome thing that has happened to me on this trip happened yesterday. There I was, sitting at a streetside cafe in my smelly socks and dirty cap, when a dude came up and asked me where the East Train Station was. In German.My heart began pounding I was so excited, but I covered up my enthusiasm with a look of vague annoyance and, using the fewest words possible in order to hide my origins, thumbed down the road and said, “That way.” Then to rub in the fact that I was a local, I added “East.”

He was grateful and thanked me, as he’d been lugging a giant box for what looked liked several thousand miles. I later found out that I’d sent him in the completely wrong direction and that he hadn’t been asking about the station, but no matter: I had passed the “looks Euro” test with flying colors and could now retire undefeated.

If you’re planning a trip to Europe here is a quick guide on how to look Euro so people will speak to you in a language you don’t understand and you can answer them in thickly accented, broken, unintelligible English to make them think you are Slovenian. The key is to NOT look like an American tourist, which is impossible.

  1. Carry a cigarette. Better, smoke one. Best, smoke one while exercising.
  2. Carry an open bottle of beer. Better, carry one in each hand. Best, wear baggy pants with giant cargo pockets and put three bottles in each one.
  3. Wear an American logo, but an obscure one. “Nike” and “Raiders” are out, “West Appaloosa BrewCo” in tiny cursive type on a faded olive background, in.
  4. Bring your small children and chain smoke around them. Better, make sure they smoke, too. Best, share your beers with the tots while you all smoke together.
  5. Order a cup of coffee, drink it over a two-hour period, then sit there staring at the empty cup for another four. Reading or phone checking is forbidden, vacant staring is mandatory. Better, make it six hours. Best, fall asleep.
  6. Study your money for days before departure and NEVER fumble with coins or bills trying to decipher the denominations. Better to indifferently drop a 50€ note that the vendor can’t change while buying a 50-cent drink than to try and figure out if the coins in your pocket are the right ones.
  7. Never try to pay with a credit card, especially where they are accepted.
  8. Stink a little. Better, stink a lot. Best, smell like a garbage dump while wearing immaculate designer clothing.
  9. Ride a bike everywhere, even when it’s 100 feet away. Better, ride a rusted out POS with a warped rear rim, a flat tire, and a 40-kg security chain wrapped around the basket. Best, steal a fancy racing bike with racing pedals and use it for errands wearing flip-flops. Better, bare feet. Best, push it.
  10. Lug around a stack of dirty newspapers bound with a string whose headline reads, “Revolution Now!” and ask cafe patrons to buy a copy for 10 cents or 50€. Better, sit on the stack with a beer and a cigarette and curse passers-by. Best, beg.

Nothing stamps you as “Euro” like doing your laundry at a bar, especially if you are only wearing a towel.

True Euro menu advertises the local product in English, thereby scaring away Americans.

Reverse-Euro stealth effected by eating at a burger shop.

Euro bike shop with “Eat shit, Tour!” graffiti and customer entrance through the window.

    19 thoughts on “Look legit”

    1. I see the Dutch are still being treated poorly by the Germans, that Gazeele didn’t deserve that treatment.

    2. Kind of makes wish I was back in Britland again. Except for the rain, the crappy coffee, the pasty white peep. But, the that awseome beer and meat pies. On seconds thoughts SoCal is pretty bloody brilliant.

    3. Oh, my. I obviously missed out on my recent trip to Germany (munich). Where did I go wrong? Your trip looks like so much more fun than my trip with a bunch of oldsters.

      1. 1. Stay in a dump. 2. Stay in a sketch part of town. 3. Ride yer bike everywhere!

    4. Brilliant writing!

      And, as a European, I’m only about 75% offended.

      REVOLUTION NOW! (Or Thursday if raining).

    5. Dear Wanky,
      Thanks for the “fit-in” and fashion advice:
      “Stink a little. Better, stink a lot. Best, smell like a garbage dump while wearing immaculate designer clothing.”

      I do this all the time here in SoCal, well, except for the immaculate designer clothing.

    6. virginia eubanks

      whenever unannounced unexplained and unapologetic chunks of fantasy fall right off onto the presumed reality wagon of writing, the result is even funnier than the purported reality we all cling to. i keep thinking of ruth benedict’s observation, paraphrased: “(human) experience, contrary to common belief, is mostly imagination.” so far so good, but are photographs, too, i wonder? both the writing and the photographs go along together, elaborating each other, making one richer because of the other. like father and son, cycling along? the posts are rough, hilarious, and beautiful.

      1. Alright, I love it when anthropological references make their way into cycling stories. Got is Seth, your readers want more anthro.

    7. Pls don’t go back home. Stay there and keep writing. It’s like being on vacation in Berlin.

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