To thine own self be true by mattsteinglass
September 16, 2008, 5:52 pm
Filed under: President, United States

I do not know how to field-dress a moose. Nevertheless, I am, according to the Consular Affairs department of the local US Embassy, still an American, and my vote is as good as anybody else’s. Or would be, if we got rid of the Electoral College; in fact my vote for president counts for nothing, since my voting address is in New York City, and the State of New York’s electors will be voting Democratic for the next couple of aeons regardless of what I do. Of course, the fact that my last US residential address was in New York City casts the question of whether I really am an American into further doubt. It’s not impossible that I am an American, but between the foreign residence and the New York City thing, it’s not unreasonable to wonder. If I wanted to resolve these doubts and questions about my being an American, there’s an easy solution: I could simply learn to field-dress a moose. Then no one would have any business questioning my Americanness.

This approach, however, might raise some questions as to what exactly I felt I had to prove. Certainly, anyone who knows how to field-dress a moose is an American, but why did I have to go to the trouble of learning to field-dress a moose in the first place? Why didn’t I just naturally know how to field-dress a moose? Why did I feel there was cause to doubt my Americanness just because some doubted my Americanness? Doesn’t this lead one to doubt my Americanness?

Now that I think about it, it seems to me that many of my fellow (former) New Yorkers and people who are suspiciously comfortable being in places that are not American, or that have un-American things like public transit, tend to express an oddly exaggerated admiration for the idea of knowing how to field-dress a moose. This leads me to wonder whether they are not in fact more comfortable sipping lattes, spreading Robuchon on a baguette (or cream cheese on a bagel), bicycling, or playing soccer than they are field-dressing a moose. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Actually…you know what? There really isn’t anything wrong with that. Now that I think about it, people who are American but are nonetheless more used to encountering salmon thinly fileted, on top of bagels, than flopping around trying to escape their rubber-gloved hands, on the deck of a fishing boat, are under no obligation to learn how to field-dress a moose. Nor is there any reason for them to defer to the judgment or credentials of anyone just because that person knows how to field-dress a moose. And that’s not all. What if they actually think field-dressing a moose sounds kind of disgusting? What if they prefer their moose alive, rather than in a state suitable for field-dressing? I think that in such an unlikely circumstance it might be better for such people to actually say so, rather than to pretend that they share an enthusiasm for field-dressing  moose which they do not, in fact, possess. I think, now that I think about, that one might describe people who themselves live in cities or suburbs and have never so much as seen a moose, be it field-dressed or woods-naked, outside of a zoo, but who profess unlimited enthusiasm for the idea of other people who claim to know how to field-dress a moose, as simpering phonies.

And how American is that? (Don’t answer.)


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