I noticed a headline in today’s London Telegraph, which claimed that “Swedes are more sexually liberated? This is a cliche, which seems to persist.
I recall an incident in my youth, which tends to suggest the opposite. I worked during one summer vacation for a music college, which held its summer session at a beach resort. I heard that two secretaries were being sent from the main campus: one English and one Swedish. Upon seeing them for the first time, prejudices that preceded them were confirmed. The English girl was dark-haired, tall, and slim. She could have been a fashion model. The Swedish girl was, of course, blond and shapely. She was more attractive, but unapproachable.
Proof of the cliches’ foolishness came quickly. The English girl drank, smoked, flirted, and partied. The Swedish girl was pleasant, but introverted. The key factor was revealed at the beach: the Swedish girl wore a non-revealing, one-piece bathing suit, whereas the English girl paraded around in the smallest bikini I had ever seen.
It seems that both countries prefer to hide behind cliches about their nation’s sexuality, pleased with what the world thinks about them. My guess is that all nations are the same, only the image is manipulated.
I have already mentioned that I do not have (many) prejudices. Also, I do not do cliché. (Okay, not too often).
But, last night we were attacked by a cliché…or, at least, had our sleep disturbed by one.
Anyone following this dodgy blog should have noticed that we are staying in a hotel in Miami’s South Beach. We have a duplex penthouse with a Jacuzzi on the top level (yet to be used). There are several suites of this type, some with an ocean view and some with a view of urban sprawl, South Beach style. It is not inexpensive, which might cause one to assume a better level of clientele. Wrong!
Last night, we discovered what our neighbors are like. They are the worst cliché of “modern” Blacks. We were awoken by a loud, drunken party at their Jacuzzi (women were louder than the men), featuring bad music and the kind of language that I do not use or permit my children to use, but features prominently in rap music. After reaching the limit of her patience, my wife called reception to complain. No one should underestimate the wrath of an extroverted German. It must be difficult for any hotel to decide whom to placate, since all have paid the fare. It did become quieter, but not quiet.
My conclusion: South Beach is a place where diverse cultures come together and try, but often fail, to tolerate one another. The only place that it seems to work is at the beach.
This morning, when we mentioned our experience to the Latin maid, who said “Oh, the Black people, it’s always fiesta, fiesta.” And, then, she warned us to always lock the balcony door…which told me something. I miss the Mandarin Oriental ambience (even if it did not have a beach).
I have nothing against any race, color, or creed…as long as they do not bother my sleep, especially with foul language, horrible music, and bad grammar…
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.