As I prepare to embark on a journey into the unknown, my semester abroad to Germany and Western Europe, I can’t decide whether one fashion item in my wardrobe should accompany me.
I’m talking, of course, about my cowboy hat.
Nothing else personifies a rugged individualistic Texan like these four square feet of brushed felt.
Nothing else exudes that proud aura; declaring I am from the home state of the President of this great country, the United States of America. The home of steak, oil and the death penalty.
And nothing else paints such a large target on my back for criticism and ridicule.
I think not. But, it depends on your point of view.
A number of my future European colleagues may not share my warm fuzzy feeling for the big man in D.C.
And wearing my Eddy may start me off on entirely the wrong foot.
But I am getting a-head of my self.
Do I, as an American, hate the environment because the media portrays the Bush administration as doing so?
Hardly! I relish the sight of the red-yellow sun creeping slowly below the sandy horizon and casting long black shadows on the rusty, iron oil derricks that rise majestically from the desert landscape.
Will I be labeled as cruel and heartless because I live in a state which leads the nation in executions?
I certainly hope not.
As Iraq my brain for other differences that may be cause for war with my European buddies, I can’t help but be thankful for the freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom to select a leader.
But I’ve often heard there is only one chance to make a good first impression.
The thought that I, as an individual, and not a walking carbon copy of the Texas cowboy stereotype, may be hated for this singular black hat doesn’t warrant the extra baggage.
No, I’ll leave it at home.
Instead, I hope to act as an ambassador and help my friends in Germany better understand where I come from when I speak highly of my president.
I hope to replace passionate shouting sessions with civil debate, at least.
Or maybe I will find out that the liberal press has slanted the argument all along and I will meet hearty, gas-loving, easy-going denizens who wear big belt buckles and cheer for the Cowboys on Sunday.