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Different Strokes for Different Folks

A poll was recently conducted on the internet asking which of the following considerations were most important when choosing a mate: money, good looks or a sense of humor. I clicked the ‘sense of humor’ box.

Approximately half a million people had participated and 74% agreed with my choice. Good looks and money tied at 13%. When I asked our bungalow neighbors, they also felt that a sense of humor was most important. Down by the river later in the afternoon, I put the question to my wife (Nak).

“Which of these three things is most important when choosing a mate? Money…”

“Money!” she exclaimed. She didn’t even wait to hear the other two choices.

That got me to thinking which, in my case, is not often advisable. Nevertheless, I decided to risk it.

The poll was, primarily, addressed to Americans. Nak is Cambodian. The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Cambodia is one of the poorest. The vast numbers of Americans haven’t the slightest clue what real poverty is all about. Nak does. She knows what it’s like to work twenty hours a day, six days a week for seventy dollars a month…what it’s like to share a cinder block room with four other people all sleeping on a bamboo cot…what it’s like to be hungry and not have two and a half cents to buy a banana…what it’s like to actually have to use a rag because you can’t afford sanitary napkins.

When a young girl who has endured that kind of deprivation begins to think about finding a mate she doesn’t really give a damn if he’s a handsome fellow with a good sense of humor. Money is the important thing. Can the mate provide sufficient food, shelter and clothing? Those are three things that Americans take for granted. Food, shelter and clothing have rarely, if ever, been a concern for the vast majority of them. Consequently, they have the luxury to claim that a sense of humor is most important in a prospective mate. They should try eating it sometime.

Americans may well be the most spoiled people on the planet. Being one of them, I was also spoiled. Although, having spent most of my adult life out of the U.S., I know I was spoiled. And, mind you, I’m not complaining about it. It was my good fortune. The problem is that the vast majority of Americans have no appreciation for their own good fortune. Even most of those living in what is defined as ‘poverty’ in America all have places to live, food to eat, clothes to wear and…refrigerators, televisions, hot & cold running water, automobiles, telephones, toys for the children, access to public education, medical care and on and on. They have pet animals that are better cared for than several billion people around the world.

Is it unfair that Americans enjoy such a relatively high standard of living? No, not at all. To a great extent, they’ve earned it. They’re an industrious people who have taken advantage of the opportunities presented to them. There is a wonderful work ethic at play in their country. Well, for the most part.

They are spoiled but, they are equally kind and generous. They’re generosity towards less privileged people is unmatched by any other country. That is an American trait of which I am most proud. Is it entirely altruistic? Absolutely not! Why should it be?

Americans used to have a pretty good sense of humor, as well. Not so much any longer. Seems to me they started to lose it in the early 70’s. ‘Political correctness’ soon became a plague of epidemic proportions. They take themselves too seriously and cringe at the thought of giving offense. Problem is that large segments of American society wallow in taking offense. Some of them make a fairly good living doing it.

Fortunately, Nak has always had a good sense of humor. No amount of money can buy one of those. She even thinks I’m funny…and good-looking. So, what the hell? Two out of three ain’t bad!

McFinn is from Chicago and currently resides in Cambodia. He has a degree in Philosophy from Georgetown University. Much of his work should be considered humorous and fictionalized memoirs. There are also satirical essays. Location settings include Thailand, Cambodia, India, Burma, Morocco and Greece. Excerpts, reviews & purchase information are available via his website: http://www.morganmcfinn.com

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