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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Welcome to My Elephant Party

After more years of living abroad than (consciously) having lived in the United States, I sometimes feel like the female version of Rip Van Winkle. But recently I've figured out that you can go home again (sorry, Thomas Wolfe!) and still fit in.

The key is to locate all the elephants you've encountered--whether actually or metaphorically--while on your travels and invite them to a party. And make sure you invite a really good mix: cute ones, dumpy ones, loud trumpeters, and the kind who keep themselves to themselves. What's nice is that they all have good memories and great intelligence, which makes for rousing party conversation. As Aristotle once said: "The beast which passeth all others in wit and mind."

Without further ado, let me introduce you to three of the "elephants" I encountered on my travels to the UK and Japan, who will most certainly get invites to my own Elephant Party:

1) Lester
Lives in: London Town
Dress style: Trendy, has dyed his tusks bright fuschia to alleviate the dullness of the British clime.
Wit: What's green and looks like a bucket?*
Smarts: Educated at the best universities, can hold forth on any topic from the wherefores of the Greek financial crisis to homo sapiens' common heritage with Neanderthals. Particularly enjoys discussing: How many angels dance on the head of a pin?

2) Akiko
Lives in: Tokyo
Dress style: Kawaiiiiiii as in Walt Disney Dumbo cute with a rakish little hat and a cheerfully flowered bib.
Wit: Likes playing the fool in order to show up the quaint eccentricities of others.
Smarts: Has a degree from an international university, speaks proper English including charming expressions such as: "Keep your chin up" (no easy feat for an elephant!).

3) Henrietta
Lives in: Not sure exactly. She is a perennial expat, the 21st-century Victorian woman traveler, a modern Mary Kingsley.
Dress style: Proper but a bit crumpled because of sitting on planes so much.
Wit: Irreverent, of course!
Smarts: Plenty of book smarts, but what really counts are her linguistic skills (my, can she trumpet, and in five different languages!) and high social IQ: can hold her own in conversation with everyone from the British royals (yes, she has met Prince Charles and told him she admired his ears!) to the delivery boy on the bike she almost ran into on the way to mine (poor guy, she gave him an earful!).

* A green bucket.

Question: Who are the "elephants" you've encountered when living in other places? :-)


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