My mother once spent the better part of the morning on Christmas Eve in a sex shop talking to three elderly men, the owner and two of his friends. Their subject of conversation? The mutual distrust their country and hers have for Russia. One of the four conversationalists (my mother) justified it with, “we never like our neighbors for some reason.”
For the record, the reason my mother ended up in that shop in the first place was she got lost and this was the only place where someone spoke German. I’m not making this up. Leave it up to my family to fall into this situation on Christmas Eve. I stopped wondering why I keep getting myself into interesting situations a long time ago. Some things you just can’t fight. Nor should you. Nor do I want to.
More recently a friend’s partner told me why Hungary and my mom’s country are such great friends (seriously, these guys are like the outsiders that stick together and wreak havoc, but won’t leave each other’s side). “We have no common borders, nothing to fight about.”
I’d never told him about that conversation my mom had. And I couldn’t agree more with those two statements (even though the friendship between the two countries is really weird). So when I chanced on this map, it had me in stitches. Some parts of it are so spot on, they still have me in stitches. The Vampires for one, but also Jesus never went there, and promiscuous atheists. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.
I love jokes that mock a country, as long as they’re somewhat sophisticated. But then again, while I think “are you from Hungary? I’m hungry, too,” is the height of idiocy, “I met a French man yesterday, his name was Philippe Floppe,” made me laugh so hard I had to stop walking.
Context is everything, though. The first one I heard secondhand, from a Hungarian friend who spent some time in England. Something she’d hear every day she told me. The second came out of the mouth of a very dear friend, when she found out I was French. Same friend who hissed “you bitch,” at me when we assigned celebrities to each other and you had to guess who you were. I gave her Elton John, because I was into the ’80s and new wave, and the New Romantics when we met. And she knew that only too well. Same friend who asked me if it wasn’t weird for me that my mother was “on the market, too,” when she found out my parents were divorced. I loved her to bits.
A good friend of mine called me Froggy for the better part of three years when he found out I was French. The only reason I didn’t dress all in green when we met up was because I couldn’t find the proper shade. Said friend hails from a small town and made a name for himself. When someone passed him on a bike and looked but didn’t say hi, my friend explained, “he’s from my hometown, thinks he knows me.” To which my reply was, “of course he does. You’re the first one that got out.”
I love a good bantering session like that. But only with good friends. These things can go south pretty damn fast if you’re not careful. Which makes these maps all the more poignant and funny. And besides, as long as you’re being used for comedic cannon fodder, and can return the favor, you might as well crank it up all the way.