The Cap’n enjoys a hands-on Euro sensitivity-training course, of sorts.
Thus I was duped into being the guitar-class leader without exactly volunteering. Damn, these Euro dudes are clever!
Topic Night is held whenever a boat crew wants to share cruising information, perhaps on sailing in certain waters or raising kids aboard or something technical, like aluminum-yacht maintenance. Maritime law for European sailors, Euro yacht taxation, and cruising the canals of Europe are also popular topics.
Plus, each month there’s at least one local cultural activity as well; the recent trip to attend an open-air performance of the opera Carmen in a 2,000-year-old amphitheater was particularly well attended. Ditto for the bus ride to the local rug makers.
All of the above activities are open to everyone. Most fliers and activity info sheets are printed in English, German, and French. It’s considered very bad manners to attempt to exclude anyone from doing anything for any reason.
Of course, there are times when the various groups get together and don’t want the hassle of making it fair and equitable for all—the French want to speak French, for instance—and thus they have their own little get-togethers outside the Porthole in the large open-air pavilion dining area.
At first we thought these “national” get-togethers were strictly off-limits to all foreigners. But we soon found this wasn’t exactly true. We discovered the French were particularly prone to flattery. After repeatedly passing by their scrumptious, candle-lit feasts, I decided to see if there was any way we could attempt to politely horn in. Saying “When you’re too old for Paris, you’re too old for life” almost worked. So did “When will the Internet learn that everything on the web must be translated into French?” Eventually, however, we found a direct route into any French person’s heart by asking, “How can the British eat that crap? Have you ever actually tasted what they consider, and I use this term loosely, their national cuisine? It tastes like chalk. Awful! I wouldn’t feed it to my poodle!”
Any self-respecting Frenchman will immediately make a space for you, graciously find you a chair, and offer you some of his escargot and foie gras, all smothered in garlic and sautéed mushrooms, of course.
The Germans are a bit tougher. Saying stuff like “The history of Germany is the history of Europe” helps to develop rapport, sure. So does repeating slogans like “While Germany pays, the rest of the E.U. plays!” And “Let’s get naked!” always earns a happy, clubby smile from these nudity-crazed folks.
The English are easy: If a Frenchman passes by, just mutter something about “And not one of them can brew a decent pint!” If, however, it’s a German strolling toward the communal toilets, try “When it comes to poetry and romance, they’re pretty good train engineers!”
I’m not sure about how to culturally butter up the Russians; I’d guess probably that some form of vodka-induced bilingual crying is required.