I’m back, god damnit. I want to say that I missed you all terribly, dear triviagoers, but my wife and I had such a perfect two-week honeymoon, which followed such a perfect wedding day, which followed such a perfect few days on the beach with family and friends prior to the wedding, that I honestly couldn’t even spare a thought for anything going on back home. I was deadbeat, absentee quizmaster, but I was a happy one. But I’m damned happy to be back hosting tonight! Big thanks, as always, to Quizmaster Pete for filling in the past two weeks after taking the time to come down to Florida and serve as one of my groomsmen and nearly poisoning himself with alcohol. Hopefully you were nice to him if I’d made a mistake with one of the questions.
I’m still pretty jet lagged, and trying to get back into the groove of things here, so in lieu of a normal trivia email, I thought I’d share with you the top ten things I learned during my two weeks in Italy and Greece. Please forgive my broad, sweeping generalizations based on one week in various parts of each country, but I feel that’s my right as a ‘merican:
10. Europeans give exactly zero fucks about lines. Lines may attempt to form initially, say, when preparing to board airplanes or trains or ferries, but they’ll always, always devolve into a confused crush of bodies while every person in the area just tries to shove their way to the front, even if they’re not going to the place where the line is leading. It’s like watching sperm trying to fertilize an egg, if most of those sperm were very lax when it comes to soap use and daily bathing habits. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure that their hatred of line culture at least partially led to the destabilization of the Euro Zone.
9. Italians are LOUD. Wonderful food there, and it’s great to sit and chat with them in a bar or cafe, but if you’re looking for a country where you’ll never get a wink of sleep until after 4am because people are talking at their normal volume outside the cafe under the apartment you’re renting in Rome, look no further than Italy. It’s the Gilbert Gottfried of Europe.
8. Greeks, for the most part, seem to be basically the best people in the world. It may be the desperate need to keep tourists coming so they don’t fall into even more dire economic circumstances, but holy shit they’re accommodating and warm and welcoming and everything you’d hope they’d be. I thought that the best Greece had to offer started and ended with John Stamos, but there’s so much more.
7. It feels incredibly weird to walk through an airport security point without taking your shoes off. It’s like sex with your socks still on; you know there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but deep down you know that it’s just not right.
6. Someone has played a mean, mean prank on Europeans, Italians especially, by telling them that cell phones don’t amplify your voice and play it at an audible volume through the speaker on the other end. That’s the only explanation for the level of yelling that goes on during all cell phone conversations over there. But it’s even more mean that they told Italians that fingers-together hand gestures are needed while talking. I guess they think their hands function as antennas that way? The person you’re talking to can’t see your sweet hand gesture, Giuseppe.
5. Absinthe is lovely. Just lovely.
4. If you ever get the chance in your life, GO TO SANTORINI. Paradise is not by the dashboard light like that fat bastard Meatloaf told us; it’s an island in Greece and it’s amazing.
3. Duty-free shops in the airport = amazing scotch that you can’t find in the states at reduced prices. The Colosseum was breathtaking, but not as much as a bottle of Macallan Select Oak at half the price I’d pay to track it down here.
2. I don’t care what Europeans say or how fervently they hold to their beliefs; bidets are ineffective and creepy.
1. Thankfully I didn’t see too much of it while on my trip, but there’s just never any reason to ever break out the Ugly American while you’re visiting these amazing countries. You get the chance to immerse yourself in cultures that have had centuries more than ours to simmer like a fine stew. If you go, try to not be the turd in that stew. Little things matter. You don’t have to learn the entirety of the language, but a few words or phrases will go a long way and show that you’re trying. Smile a lot. Say thank you (or grazie or efharisto). It was horrendously embarrassing to see the government shutdown business carry on while we were over there; the last thing I wanted to do was tarnish our country’s reputation even more. Think of how much we hate it here when tourists fuck up our routine even a little bit, and apply that when you’re there. I’m so glad for the trip, and hope that I was a courteous guest.