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To Be American

(I dropped the indefinite article on purpose, and meant the “A” to be a double-case “A”. A big damn “A”.)

A law student takes his date, a med student, to Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner. In the course of conversation, while being served, the young med student comments that she had also waited tables as an under-grad, mentioning what a tough job it was. Good meal, good conversation, the bill comes to $45, and the law student, with that vise-like mathematical mind only lawyers, New York cabbies and pit bosses have, lays $9 on the table as a tip. While he is grabbing the coats the med student looks around, dips into her purse and adds three more ones, then heads to the door.

Moral? She is American.

No really, that’s it.

An illegal, Juan Pablo Garcia, from Coahuila enters the US in 2002, and takes work as gang labor in construction in St Louis. A sharp mind, hard working, and honest, he does well, keeps his nose clean, and by 2004 brings his family across, sponsored by his gringo boss, who is “simpatico”. By 2008, with a phony Federal ID number, he starts his own business, and by 2010 is in six figures, and pays his taxes on time. He has 12 employees, 5 of which are illegals, who he pays less than the others and is more strict…unless they are familia.

Moral? He is not American. Nor will his children be. Nor his children’s children.

I’m not saying that Juan Pablo Garcia from Coahuila is a bad man. I am simply saying he is not American and his presence in the United States no longer requires that he be one.

The young med student? Almost any young girl (or guy) who ever hustled tables in college, even of the nitwit variety, knows that in your lifetime you’re going to reach back and extend the hand of “simpatico” to those who come up behind you. It’s an axiom, “The best tippers are those who had been there once upon a time.” That is simpatico…only you will not find it from Juan Pablo Garcia, or from any black-eyed senorita waiting tables in Don Casa Grande, or her children, or her children’s children, either.

As I said, it isn’t that they are mean or insensitive. it is only that this kind of “simpatico” is a practice that is peculiarly…exclusively...American. You won’t find it in Spain either. Or London. or Paris. Or Buenos Aires. it simply is not a part of their thinking, that they should, once attaining a level of success, reach around, with a handshake, a sometimes anonymous handshake, and whisper ever so gently, “simpatico” to someone beneath them. For all the world, it is family or tribe. For Americans, it is simpatico,the handshake.

To be American is to say “This is only temporary”. To be everyone else is to say this is “fate”, mala suerte, Joss. T-S as they say in Russia. Insha’allah.

In Mexico, “simpatico” is a word that exists between two who suffer a similar pain or indignity. It is inconceivable to them that it should exist between higher and lower classes, no matter how much socialists declare that it is their raison d’etre. I’ve often spoken of the “handshake” that defines being “American”, about one who is finally ascending the hill, still never forgetting to reach around and offer that handshake…and a whisper. It is just one (of other) element of that special condition called “being American.”

Only in America does “simpatico” really mean “simpatico”. And only by Americans can it be broadcast.

This is how it is.

Vote Republican, where we still make Americans the old-fashioned way, with Gratitude, not Hate, not Envy. This we promise.

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