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Poland v Italy is not a game you saw on ESPN in the last month from South Africa. Poland did not make the cut for this year’s World Cup. However, Poland (and Italy) made the cut for this year’s 4th of July celebration in my boat.

7 people. 3 couples. 1 Polak. And 1 Italian-Canadian.

And the Europeans couldn’t have been different. Maybe it’s their inherent personalities? Or maybe it was their cultural upbringing? What I observed, however, was something as welcoming and carefree as apple pie versus something as difficult and irritable as souffle.

The Italian, having never met the greater group prior to that afternoon, was as at home and comfortable, even earning herself a big hug and a standing invitation from my father to visit any time. The Polak, on the other hand, having known everyone for the better part of a year, kept to herself and answered in sentences as short as possible when engaged in conversation.

The most defining observation of difference came about the fireworks. Midway through the display, the Polish girl began whining. Could we go in now? They weren’t going to get any better. She saw them last year. She was a picture of petulance. Ten minutes later, the Italian girl made the comment to nobody in particular: “There’s no place else I’d rather be. I’m so happy right now!” The Italian welcomed the moment of the company of friends, the festivities of a holiday not even her own, and the mediocre light display that is our 4th of July fireworks on the lake.

I am sure there are grouchy Italians and bubbly Polaks. But I wonder if my observations of these two is a greater reflection of cultural being? I mean, we have all heard the descriptions of heaven and hell, right?

Heaven: where the police are British, the cooks French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian, and it is all organized and run by the Swiss.
Hell: where the police are German, the cooks British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, and it is all organized and run by the Italians.

~M

Retro re-post of the day: France: a World Sports Authority?

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