Germans have this thing about culture. Most Germans fall into the 'common man' situation, and culture doesn't really mean a damn thing to these Germans. This group wouldn't admit to knowing much about wine, cheese, 500-year old operas, stone statues of Hercules, or poems concerning winged myths. The other folks? Well....their life is charged up and on turbo when it comes to culture.
Culture ends up coming in a dozen different schemes. You've got the art business, which has a thousand years of stone or paintings. You've got the gourmet world, where some mushroom sauce has been handed down since 1742. You've got the wine world, where folks argue about aroma or dryness. You've got the musical world, where a fancy-singing barber will belt out a tune about his mistress....all in Latin, and marches around the stage in circles for two hours. You've even got the romantic writers who felt an urge to write up some love story over two hundred years ago.....that drives women of today insane with the amount of romance displayed.
This all brings Germans around to the poor American at times (sometimes the poor Brit, and the poor Russian as well), to let them know.....that their culture.....just isn't the same as what the German has.
I tend to refer to these German characters....as "culture-clowns".
Yeah, it is insulting to some minor degree. But then, a clown wants to draw attention....to make himself seen in the light.....and to get noticed.
It takes a culture-clown about fifteen to twenty minutes to get the conversation around to culture. Some Germans stick to soccer, the weather, their recent vacation, or the complexity of train scheduling business. But culture-clowns tend to aim for the gut. They harbor a grudge or necessity to flip the American as much as possible.
Insulting? Yeah, it's probably the general agenda.
We don't have a thousand years of art or statue-making to fall back onto.
We haven't been building giant monumental cathedrals at expensive costs.
We don't usually build big opera houses....because most Americans would rather go to to a indoor football stadium.
We have developed vineyards across the US, and make tons of wines which do win European awards.....but we don't usually brag much about it because most Americans just aren't into drinking wine.
We do make hundreds of different cheeses.....but to the bulk of Americans.....there's only two or three versions of cheese that we tend to appreciate.
We can cook up gourmet meals, but we just aren't the French-type of people to sit for four hours at the table and discussing hearty talk over our passion for dance or the color orange, while waiting for each stage of meal to be brought out.
We did have a bunch of Germans over in the 1800s building up brewery after brewery, with the secret German recipes for the best brew. But the demand was such....that the original German guys flipped from making long and drawn out quality beer....to making half-decent and cheap beer. Yeah, we accepted a marginal taste for our beer because that was good enough.
An appreciation for Van Gogh-like American painters? Well.....we have some guys who made it big, but we tended to toss our money toward other things. Paintings and sculptures just didn't get that much attention.
Yeah, we are somewhat down the line for culture.
Typically, folks don't call Americans up for culture-clown meetings, or discussions over woeful operas, or the best way to make a tart.
When we get invited....it's usually because some idiot has triggered some mess to occur....put some Jews on a train to places unknown....fallen off the face of the earth because of a tsunami....or rigged up a nuke plant on a beachfront location.
We don't usually come to listen to a recital of Kurt Weill's music, or a demonstration of 1820's French art, or to get a glass of 70-year old Hessen wine.
We tote shovels, rifles, sandbags, and buckets. We bring along tons of first aid equipment, and shiploads of tents and food.
We don't usually ask for anything in return. You can appreciate our help or insult us.
When asked to do the near impossible.....we tend to deliver. Few put up statues for us...except to remember the dead Americans who gave all. Some will paint for us. A few composers will write pieces that are remembered for decades....over what was accomplished by men who walked in the darkness to take on thugs and hooligans.
So for the sake of the culture-clown....just nod and say as little as possible. You could spend an entire afternoon trying to reason with them. But it's a waste.
Life is a bit short, and it's best to waste it on all things.....whether culturally magnificent, or culturally marginal. A cup of spring water....a view of a sunflower field in full bloom.....a few dark storm clouds off on the horizon.....and a bit of wondrous Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama.....is enough to make a guy feel cultivated.