Excerpts from P.J. O’Rourke’s Holidays in Hell

Here’s his take on different kinds of foreigners.

And the Japs take snapshots of everything, not just everything famous but everything. Back in Tokyo there must be a billion color slides of street corners, turnpike off-ramps, pedestrian crosswalks, phone booths, fire hydrans, manhole covers and overhead electrical wires. What are the Japanese doing with these pictures? It’s probably a question we should have asked before Pearl Harbor.

Worse than the Japanese, at least worse looking, are the Germans, especially at pool-side. The larger the German body, the smaller the German bathing suit and the louder the German voice issuing German demands and German orders to everybody who doesn’t speak German….[But] this is nothing compared to the French on a tropical shore. A middle-aged, heterosexual, college-educated male wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and a string-bikini bottom and carring a purse — what else could it be but a vacationing Frenchman?

Also present in Angola, Eritrea, and God-Knows-Where are the new breed of yuppie “experience travelers.” You’ll be pinned down by mortar fire in the middle of a genocide atrocity in the Sudan, and right through it all comes six law partners and their wives, in Banana Republic bush jackets, taking an inflatable raft trip down the White Nile having an “experience.”

Now on third world travel in general…

Astonishing toilets for humans are also a staple of up-to-date foreign adventure. Anyone who thinks international culture has become bland and uniform hasn’t been to the bathroom, especially not in Yugoslavia where it’s a hole in the floor with a scary old lady with a mop standing next to it…

No present day traveler, even an extra-odoriferous Central European one, can say he’s done it all if he hasn’t been on a smell tour of Asia. Maybe what seems pungent to the locals only becomes alarming when sniffed through a giant Western proboscis, but there are some odors in China that make a visit to Bhopal seem like a picnic downwind from the Arpege factory. Hark to the cry of the tourist in the East: “Is it dead or is it dinner?”…

On American embassies…

Each American embassy comes with two permanent features — a giant anti-American demonstratiron and a giant line for American visas. Most demonstraters spend half their time burning Old Glory and the other half waiting for green cards….

On South Africa….

Everywhere you go in the world somebody’s raping women, expelling the ethnic Chinese, enslaving stone-age tribesmen, shooting communists, rounding up Jews, kidnapping Americans, settling fire to Sikhs, keeping Catholics out of the country clubs and hunting peasants from helicopters w/ automatic weapons. The world is built on discrimination of the most horrible kind. The problm with South Africans is they admit it. They don’t say, like the French, “Algerians have a legal right to live in the sixteenth arrondissement, but they can’t afford to.” They don’t say, like the Israelis, “Arabs have a legal right to live in West Jerusalem, but they’re afraid to.” They don’t say, like the Americans, “Indians have a legal right to live in Ohio, but oops, we killed them all.” The South Africans just say, “Fuck you.” I believe it’s right there in their constitution: “Article IV: Fuck you. We’re bigots.” We hate them for this. And we’re going to hold indignant deomnstrations…until the South Africans learn to stand up and lie like white men.

And the grand finale (either you want to punch him or you’re laughing hard by now):

I was having dinner…in London…when eventually he got, as the Europeans always do, to the part about “Your country’s never been invaded.” And so I said, “let me tell you who those bad guys are. They’re us. WE BE BAD. We’re the baddest-assed sons of bitches that ever jogged in Reeboks. We’re three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock market crash on our mother’s side. You take your Germany, France, and Spain, roll them all together and it wouldn’t give us room to park our cars. We’re the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time. When we snort coke in Houston, people lose their hats in Cap d’Antibes. And we’ve got an American Express card credit limit higher than your piss-ant metric numbers go. You say our country’s never been invaded? You’re right, little buddy. Because I’d like to see the needle-dicked foreigners who’d have the guts to try. We drink napalm to get our hearts started in the morning. A rape and a mugging is our way of saying ‘Cheerio.’� Hell can’t hold our sock-hops. We walk taller, talk louder, spit further, fuck longer and buy more things than you know the names of. I’d rather be a junkie in a New York City jail than king, queen, and jack of all Europeans. We eat little countries like this for breakfat and shit them out before lunch.”

Of course, this guy should have punched me. But this was EUrope. He just smiled his shabby, superior European smile. (God, don’t these people have dentists?)