If there was a prize for most American American, Tom Hanks would be a serious contender. He’s not big but not skinny, nice but not too nice, and his accent sounds like it could be from anywhere.
Most American of all, he’s baffled by the foreign practice of asking drivers to be aware that children may be playing on some streets. And as nature takes its course, his confusion turns to mockery of the idea that motorists’ right to drive where they want and as fast as they want be curtailed by children playing in the street.
A few weeks ago Hanks told David Letterman about his visit to the backwards Communist settlement of Eisenhuettenstadt. Hanks was entertained by the poverty of the city – apparently the stupid reds thought they could build an entire city around processing raw materials.
Gleeful about the poverty of the commies, Hanks pointed out that when Eisenhuettenstadt was built in the 1950s, they couldn’t afford to paint all the buildings. Apparently acting in movies like Saving Private Ryan was exceptionally cathartic for Hanks, as he appears to have forgotten about World War II, and how at the end of it most of Germany was a smoldering pile of rubble.
But Tom Hanks saved his payload of scorn for a simple blue sign, showing a car waiting while a family plays in front of their home. Any man who lives free would be confused by the model Soviet city of Eisenhuettenstadt, with its state-guaranteed employment, nonexistent homelessness and buildings more than 35′ tall, but the notion that a motorist should yield to a child playing in the street? Hanks has no idea what to make of it, so he sets his phasers on mock, eventually concluding that in the land of the German Shepherd, dogs were verboten.
Well I can’t be mad at Tom for this – he was just too good in Joe Versus the Volcano. Can someone direct him to wikipedia’s Living Streets page, which lists variants of the sign and the concept of traffic calming in 11 countries? Too bad there isn’t a word for Living Streets in American.
Wikipedia: blame definition: to find fault with. →