We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A few stereotype observations from our recent trip:
- They all smoke too much, and everywhere. Strange to see everybody smoking in bars and restaurants. Sort of fun, too.
- They drink too much
- Except for Germans, they tend to be thin. Germans seem to think they look good as overweight people. They do not, and they should not wear thongs or take their clothes off at the beach. Stop that, you Germans.
- Europeans do not work out. Only Americans use gyms. Europeans think going to the spa, stretching, taking a steam bath or a sauna is a work-out.
- Italians do not travel much. But why would they?
- Brits and Germans like to go to sunny climates, get drunk and fall asleep in the sun and burn their pasty skin.
I noticed, on my trip last Spring, that Europeans tend to walk much more than Americans. I met a few Americans on the trail along the Cinque Terre (most were overweight and resting along the way), while the Europeans were all chugging along nicely. I saw far more Americans on the trains between the towns.
Between that, and difference in diet, I assume you can figure out where the thinness comes from.
strangely, that's pretty much what Europeans think about Americans...
- I know very few Europeans that smoke. But those that do tend to be chain smokers
- Most Europeans I know drink little, unless you consider 1-2 glasses of beer or wine a day to be too much
- Europeans come in all shapes and sizes, just like Americans
- Europeans don't need as much gym time, they don't need instructors and machines to stay/get in shape generally.
- Most Europeans, like most Americans, don't travel far.
- Who doesn't like to go to sunny places to get a break from constant rain? Unless you live in Seattle and drink, smoke and use pot too much...
- Germans feel the cold, they've just developed a good way to cope with it. It's called mulled wine :)
Back in the day, had offspring studying in eastern Slovakia. First impression was that all Slovak women were size 2. Not true, but didn't see a lot of overweight ones. And, yes, smoking was almost de rigeur. One basement restaurant did have a 'non-smoking' section, but you had to go through the smoking section to get there.
My experience is now mostly 10-20 years old, but Eastern Europe was a different planet than Western Europe then. Much more smoking and drinking (still true, I hear), most people thin, no one took the least strenuous activity - even farmers went at it the slow, steady way - and certainly no exercise for its own sake, but everyone walked long distances as a matter of course.
Assistant Village Idiot
The more McDonald's and Anerican style junk processed food in the supermarkets, the fatter the Europeans now. The English were mostly skinny in my youth, now you have the same class divisions via a vis weight as in the US. The lower class Brits dress much as you say Germans do. All the Germans I know are fit, slim, tall and have gorgeous, intelligent and better behaved kids than most of the American kids I know (I may be biased by some beloved friends?)
Good food has always been very expensive in Europe, which helps people stay thin, also living mostly in cities and walking or biking almost everywhere. Public transportation and walking or bicycling is green and trendy with idiot fit hipsters in this country and is great for the young, the childless and the non-disabled, but brutal on the elderly, young families, and crippled.
Houses aren't heated as warm, so that, plus expensive food, and lotsa walking makes people not need the insane age-denying workouts Americans injure their joints and muscles with.
There is more emphasis on lifelong sports, amateurism, passive recreation in parks and recreation programs. Walking, picnicking, family soccer games, hiking for all. Because kids get into college based on purely meritocratic academic criteria you don't have the same hyper parenting we do here with pushing kids into varsity sports so the stupid ones can get into college anyway. An adult can actually lap swim in Europe after work without being prevented by ridiculous American kiddie competitive swim teams monopolizing facilities.
People live in smaller apartments and have less crud but have richer cultural lives and more livable cities so one doesn't have to retreat to a walled suburban fortress.
It can be rather oppressive for a female that most French and Spanish and Italian women are so chic and present themselves so attractively: in America most people are so casual that one doesn't feel like dog meat by comparison.
It is disconcerting to me that most young Europeans seem so indifferent to religion. Not godless, but so disillusioned by centuries of bloodshed in the name of faith, that they don't bound up to you and invite you to their church. The latter is, IMHO , one of the glories of our country: the unabashed love of God(as of our country ) and our welcome to neighbors that one still finds in places outside the Sodom and Gommorrahs like NYC.