The lesson to be learned from last summer is that abroad is a good place for Americans to stay out of. We are a simple folk, and it is far too rich for our currency.
It was not always thus. Miss Manners remembers when Americans of comparatively modest means could venture forth as moneyed tourists.
Many did not appreciate the pleasure of playing the crass and filthy-rich foreigner for whom the cultured but impoverished local barely disguised his contempt in a flood of obsequiousness. These Americans longed to be recognized as people of fine feelings to whom money meant nothing.
Now we have our wish. It is time for us to learn how to play the quaint native for materialistic foreigners visiting our shores from more technologically advanced societies.
The switch is sometimes difficult to make, even in Washington, where people are supposed to be used to entertaining foreigners.
Miss Manners once saw a party of Japanese transportation experts uncomfortably bursting with the effort to control their hilarity at being asked to admire our train system.
And she remembers the puzzlement of a State Department official whom Giovanni Leone, then president of Italy, had asked to take him to "a typical American restaurant." Someone suggested Mama Leone's.
Now, with increased tourism expected, everyone will get the chance to do as well. Here are Miss Manners' suggestions for impressing loaded foreign guests with the cultural richness of America.
Basically, all one has to do is to remember what we really wanted to experience when we were the visitors. We weren't after the pathetic signs of progress people tried to show us -- as if it would ever compare with our own. We wanted to see the colorful native costumes, the exotic local food, the anachronistic handicrafts and the simple culture that was a true expression of a people's spirit.
Well, we have those things, too. The ability to make cars, cameras and television sets that work isn't everything.
The native costume of the American of either sex and any class consists of blue jeans, t-shirts with clever phrases on them and sweatshirts with college or corporation logos. A foreigner will be delighted if you enable him to find the real article, as opposed to the imitations he can get a home, and advise him of the degree of obscenity on the t-shirt.
It is difficult to say, when foods have been borrowed and adapted from all over the world, what is truly indigenous. But the typical American food of the monent, the staple of our diet, is yogurt.
Many foreigners are not aware that yogurt is produced in many forms and is such flavors as bourbon and peanut butter, but they should be encouraged to overcome their reluctance to try it so that they can tell their friends back home and some of us, what it is like.
We are fortunate to have a great diversity of craftspeople making everything from hammered earrings to hammered necklaces, but the chief American craft is scented candles. Your foreign visitor will want to see them in their proper setting, the shopping mall's scented-candle boutique.
And, of course, he will want to see American culture other than our fine music or dance performances at which the program reveals that the artist studied in his country. Fortunately, we have the best joggers in the world.
We are also a naturally gracious people, and if we learn to be hospitable enough, perhaps one day the tables will turn. Miss MANNERS RESPONDS
Q: I have worked for the same firm for over 20 years. In the last few years since everybody got so crime conscious they have had a "security system," which means that you are supposed to show your employe pass every time you enter the building, which is at least twice a day for me, in morning and at lunch, and sometimes more often if I have to see someone outside the building.
Most of the guards, including the security chief, just wave me in, but there is one who insists on seeing my pass every time and once made me sign in as a visitor when I had run outside for a minute, leaving my jacket and therefore my wallet and pass inside. I thought this was deliberate rudeness, but I can't officially complain about it (I tried) because he is "only doing his job."
Once this guard had to stand there while his chief waved me through, and I enjoyed that out of all proportion with the situation. When there are two guards on duty on each side of the hallway, I, of course, go for the one who recognizes me. But as the desks are several feet apart, I can't very well cross over if I have headed for the wrong one.
You see, I am not by nature a rude man. But I would like to have some way of indicating my disapproval of the letter-of-the-law harassment.
A: Show your pass without turning your head to the guard who requires it while turning pleasantly to the other guard and saying good morning or good afternoon in a friendly manner, thus indicating that you recognize one as a human being but do not recognize the other who never seems to recognize you.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of The Washington Post