Colonel Gaddafi and the American Dream

When I was at school I was fixated with a girl called Lisa. She was pretty with lustrous raven hair, dark eyes, immaculate make-up and sharply dressed in a manner somewhat too corporate for school. And she had perfect white teeth.

I seldom plucked up the courage to talk to Lisa who acted like she was 10 years older than me. She probably wouldn’t have noticed me had I lay twitching on her desk at the start of Geography.

I was a bit of a nerd whereas she seemed so self confident and composed. No matter that she wouldn’t know who Marcel Proust was if he slapped her in the face. Given that Proust died in 1922 it wasn’t a likely scenario.

Lisa didn’t even seem to notice when our English teacher set us a poetry challenge; it was the whole class against myself and Stuart White, the dumbest kid in the class, who wouldn’t know who the Prime Minister was if she slapped him in the face; a more likely scenario than a Proust slap. Despite my Stuart White handicap Team Us won, defeating the rest of the class.

At my moment of triumph I squinted in Lisa’s direction through my murky National Health Service glasses; only to see her digging for gum in her designer handbag.

Time went by and I forgot about Lisa. And Morrissey made my glasses trendy, although I had invested in some less obtrusive ones by then anyhow to avoid the Proclaimers jokes when I was out with my brother.

Some years later I was visiting home and boarded a bus when I saw a woman struggling up the stairs with a couple of kids, probably because you could smoke upstairs in those days.

There was something vaguely familiar about those dark eyes surrounded by even darker rings. Shocked, I realized it was Lisa. Her eyes were the only familiar feature. My school crush was wearing shapeless clothes, stained with baby formula and her hair that used to be so carefully coiffured was stringy and bedraggled. But most shockingly, her perfect white teeth were stained yellow.

I muttered something at her and she muttered back. I was rather keen to get back to the Stone Roses on my Walkman.

I only say this because Lisa reminds me a bit of the American Dream.

When we were kids we used to listen wide eyed to tales of the Land of the Free where the trees dipped with dollars (and I don’t mean Dollar Tree) and people owned refrigerators big enough to house a family of four.

When we were kids our parents used to also tell us to beware the Bogey Man and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Because, let’s face it, Gaddafi was running Libya when we were kids.

So when Gaddafi tells us Osama Bin Laden is behind the revolt in Libya, we have to take these comments and shove a mountain of salt over them.

That would be why the protestors are writing signs in English and hoisting the flag of the old monarchy.

Most of the protesters don’t want to hang out in a cave and plan jihad. They want nice cars and big fridges. They want a big juicy slice of the American dream. I can't actually believe they want to go to Wal-Mart, but maybe they do.

They certainly want the democracy that many nations in the west have had in some form or another since the 19th Century.

I hope they get it but there’s no guarantee that democracy will bring wealth and an end to corruption, although anything is better than the likes of Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak.

They can dream but I wonder if they are too late for the American dream. I have a colleague who’s from Michigan. Apparently they’re pulling down large parts of Detroit because it doesn’t work anymore.

And that big Cadillac might not run for much longer if the Libyan crisis continues to push up the cost of gas.

Maybe even Colonel Gaddaffi wants a slice of the American dream. Why else would he dress up in brown robes like one of the most seedy of Liberty Tax wavers who are appearing beside the highway at this time of year?


  1. The American Dream is elusive, even for those of us who live here, but as you say democracy certainly seems like the better choice compared to what is going on in these countries now.

  2. Everything is an illusion, I think. I like your American dream comparison. It's so true. Americans have a get-rich-quick mentality that prevents us from being as successful as we should be. Most people in this country want to sit on their couch and wait for a big paycheck, rather than work towards one. And then they complain about being in debt for purchasing things they can't afford. And then I see these poor immigrants who move here, expecting to make a lot of money and live in a two-story house, only to discover America has poor people too and they're now one of them. But they can't go back home because they're too ashamed to admit to their family and friends that they failed. Sigh.

    Okay, sorry about that. I totally went on a tangent that had nothing to do with your post. Lol.

    I'm concerned about Libya. :(

  3. This is a great post David. The traditional American Dream may be going the way of drive-in movies, and those postcards you wrote about a while back.

  4. Ditto to what Tim said. (I have had two glasses of wine and I can't form a sentence beyond a Grade 5 level currently)

  5. "Brits in the USA" has been included in this weeks Sites To See. I hope you like the image I featured, and I hope this helps to attract many new visitors here.

  6. When Gaddaffi dresses up, and he's next to his lesbian Amazonian Guards...He looks like a boss.

    ...who's going to WalMart.

    Sorry about Lisa.

  7. The American dream is called a dream for a reason: you only see it when you are asleep! Seriously though I like the idea of a vision to strive for, an idea that we can all aspire to. But yes, unrealized or warped dreams can be an ugly thing to behold. I think America needs a new dream that doesn't involve oil dependency on countries with leaders like the Col. Nice post!

  8. The American dream is why I am sitting here now, my family bought into it back in the 70's when America was well America. I know everyone likes to point blame on any problem so I will put in my 2 cents or pesos or whatever, I think that America has been ruined by - Corporations - big, scary bad-ass mothers who will fuck you upside down if you threaten their bottom line. Corporations big enough to line pockets of those in power? maybe.
    Oh yeah and the fact that America does not make anything anymore - nuts...

  9. Thanx Oilfield; with you re the elusiveness of the dream Daisy. Thanks for the tangent Jennifer, it was very interesting, tho. Thanks Tim, appreciate it, ditto Lidia - a mere two glasses? That's kind of you FishHawk, I just checked it out. Well here sure looks weird, Mollie, it's Ok, I sort of got over her some time back. Great points Lifebegins - good point Sausage Fingers, the same with Britain. It's like China makes everything.

  10. Interesting....its a vicious circle...dream the dream and then 60yrs later you have a corrupt political circle...the poor highly visible, the rich flaunting their ugly wealth and the middle class stretching the already thin layer of butter.
    the rulers may come and go...but Corruption and Asia go hand in hand...

  11. "At my moment of triumph I squinted in Lisa’s direction through my murky National Health Service glasses; only to see her digging for gum in her designer handbag." <-This is priceless.
    It seems only vapid blondes and non-Americans like Bieber can realize the American dream.

  12. Whatever the outcome may be, I'm sure getting rid of Qaddafi is absolutely the right thing to do.

  13. Great post David. I'm a Brit in Canada and the "Canadian Dream" is becoming more ellusive with each passing year. I will say though, going by what my relatives back home say, I am laughing all the way to the bank here.

    I grew up on The Smith's and the good old Colonel. I was afraid of him in the 80's and I'm still afraid of him now. For want of a better term, the man is a lunatic. I pray for Libya and her people. Geting rid of Qaddafi is the only way to go imho.

    I had a "Lisa". He was my drama teacher who was a mere 11 years older than me. I eventually got over him when I left school. As well a being good looking and dreamy, he was a darn good teacher, which in hindsight was what really mattered I guess!

  14. too true Rek, mind you I think Libya's in Africa. Same thing eh? Glad you liked that line, Robyn - really, where is Bieber from? I should know as he gets my blog so many hits. For sure sildude and thanks for the visit. Oh had never heard of the Canadian Dream Poetic. is it a refill at Timmy Hortons? Cool that you are a fellow Brit in the big continent. Tis true, we all had a Lisa.


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