I used to live in the Middle East, in Dubai. It’s a strange place, Dubai, as it’s made up almost entirely of ex-pats (i.e. legal employees from all over the world). I worked there as a teacher and made although I did make a few bucks, I always felt like I was a prostituting my services while living there, mainly because, deep down, I always knew I would never settle there. I never had any sense whatsoever of belonging there. When I got back to Ireland with all that money, I just wasted it.
I do remember, though, while living in Dubai, we Westerners would often try to tan ourselves before coming back to Europe. We’d be desperate to return sporting a bronzed body. Meanwhile, the natives of Dubai, the “Doobies,” lived in mortal fear of the sun giving them a tan. They’d avoid the sun like the proverbial plague. Heaven forbid that they’d darken their skin! Pale skin was a cachet of beauty and breeding. So, while I didn’t really agree with them wanting to avoid the sun, I could understand their motives somewhat.
Which brings me to you lot, the Yanks. Nothing fascinates more than the contradictions in cultures and ye seem to have this really, really weird relationship with the great outdoors. Like, I’ve seen high-school kids out training for football in soaring temperatures, in the 90s. People love to hunt, to fish, and to grill. All of these are outdoor activities that are hugely appreciated round here. So, why is it that people seem to be averse to being outdoors, for the simple pleasure of being outdoors? Let me put it like this: I see front porch/patio furniture everywhere, but it’s almost as if this furniture is like the potted plants outside one’s house – put there simply for decorative purposes. I rarely see people sitting outside their homes reading the paper, listening to the radio, having a coffee. If I do see people sitting outside their homes.
Ye have a very, very bizarre relationship with the outdoors. And yes, I know all about the bugs, of course I do, but even in spring and autumn when there are far fewer bugs about, I seldom see people availing of the glorious weather, by simply sitting outside, taking in a beautiful day, kickin’ back and relaxing.
They say youth is wasted on the young. Honestly, I sometimes feel like the beautiful weather we get here sometimes is wasted on ye. Ye just don’t seem to want to get out there and soak it in. Why can’t ye just bask in some of those glorious balmy days we get now and again? No, rather than relax and enjoy it, ye’d rather crank up the mower, the leaf-blower, and the strimmer and make some horrendous noise. Speaking of crank, maybe I’ll just go and sit outside for a wee bit.
Brian O’Nuainain is a native Irishman who currently lives in Bossier City. He is also owner and operator of Across the Pond and Beyond, a company that organizes international vacations. You can reach him at acrossthepondandbeyond.com.