400 words about Skateboarding Abroad

By Joey Dawson

Two days ago I bought a skateboard. It was an impulse buy to say the least. I got out of class and I made a beeline for the nearest skate shop. Once inside, I spent a grand total of 30 seconds looking around until I found the one I liked. I paid by card, 59 euros, and signed the receipt. I signed with my Dad’s name.

It’s this fun little game I’ve been playing where I try to see how long it takes for someone to notice the signature doesn’t match the name on my card. I’ve been in France for two weeks now and so far no one has caught on. Even if the cashier had caught on this time, I’m fairly certain he would not have been amused.

So far people in Europe have had mixed reactions when they find out I’m from America. Some are shocked, just as if I told them I was from Outer Space or Narnia.  Instead I’ve actually been saying I’m from “Syracuse, New York” or “central Massachusetts.” Both places, if you’ve visited, are far less exciting than either Outer Space or Narnia.

Some people aren’t as excited when I mention that I’m from the states. While I haven’t been called a “stupid American” yet like I heard I might be, there have been some close calls. One time a Polish exchange place gave me fake money. Not even a good fake, like an arcade token fake. And people are pretty angry about Donald Trump (I get it, I don’t like him either). In general, Europeans don’t really understand our country’s obsession with working so much, taking multiple showers a day, or peanut butter (ok maybe that last one is just me, but I’m REALLY struggling without a peanut butter supplier on this continent).

Some people don’t care that I’m from America and are just really impressed that I can speak English fluently. This is confusing because that’s the opposite of how my parents reacted when they saw my SAT Reading score.

But most people here just ignore me. Whether that’s good or bad, or whether it’s the European way or not, sometimes it just seems like I’m invisible. Well, as invisible as a lanky 6-foot-3 man-boy wearing a neon yellow t-shirt, lip syncing an extensive collection of Flo Rida songs and obnoxiously riding a skateboard through the streets of Strasbourg can be.

Editor’s note: This story is part of our September 2016 series ‘Hundreds of Words about Location: Where are you, and how does it affect how you see the world?’

Joey Dawson is a big fan of the Air Bud movies and brown sugar cinnamon poptarts. He’s not afraid to admit that he’s still scared of the dark and you are more than welcome to stalk him on twitter at @JoeyDawsonn

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