The Foreign Guy Tells Another Story
A group of people were having a normal conversation yesterday when suddenly, for no apparent reason, the foreign guy told a story about how things are different in his home country.
John Man happened to be in the conversation and described the feigned interest and death-like boredom the story generated. “We were talking about Katy Perry, and out of nowhere he launched into some story about kangaroos or whatever,” said Man. “I tried to nod or smile as his lips noisily flapped about, but I think that only encouraged him.”
Sally Galley was the only one to find the story interesting, as it revealed a fascinating cultural difference between the two countries that would be difficult to notice if you had not lived in both places. “It was quite interesting,” she said, “because it revealed a fascinating cultural difference between our two countries that would be difficult to notice if you had not lived in both places. And every time he tells that story it gets better and better. I could almost tell it myself now.”
The story eventually came to an end and the group was able to return to their charmingly off-beat pop-culture ruminations and semi-professional gossip. Unfortunately, it was not long before the foreign guy found some way to relate this gossip to some scandal or metaphorical crisis in the spiritual life of his own country.
Bob Guy was barely able to contain his seething rage. “I get it,” he said. “Different places are different. It’s amazing and all that. I just wish I could bitch about my colleagues in peace without having to contemplate the vicissitudes of the human condition every five seconds.”
We spoke to the foreign guy about his stories and asked him why he couldn’t just adopt the unquestioned cultural assumptions of his host country. “I’m like a fish,” he said, “swimming in the ocean. Where I’m from, we have a saying that…” and so on.
Man says he is happy to listen to the stories, provided he doesn’t have to care about whatever the message is supposed to be. “Sometimes they don’t even seem to have a point,” he said, “because he just trails off until it’s clear that no one can bond with him over his experiences. But at least then it’s over.”