Are you suffering from vacation envy?
I am. There’s the friend posting her photos from a cute French villa in Provence. The neighbors sailing on a lake in Switzerland. The teacher hiking high above Cape Town, South Africa. The former boss hanging out in Greece and Cuba with her students.
But guess what? Turns out they aren’t having as much fun as we thought. And it’s thanks to one man — Donald Trump.
Yep, this summer, an overseas vacation has become a relentless apology tour, and just about every American with a passport is being interrogated by the rest of the world about our bizarre Republican presidential candidate.
“Two weeks abroad and I lost count of how many baffled Europeans asked us to explain Donald Trump,” tweeted Sherry Stern, a California magazine editor who found herself Trumpsplaining in London; Cambridge, England; and Budapest.
Add another thing to the list of things Trump has stained.
I sympathized with Frank Rizzo, a now-retired theater writer for the Hartford Courant, who was bracing himself for a trip to Germany.
“I’m going to Berlin this month,” he tweeted, “and, following the twitters of Trump will no doubt have to explain American Fascism to Germans. Oy.”
Daunelle Wulstein, a childhood friend of mine from California who makes frequent trips to France for business and pleasure, said the Trumpsplaining is especially intense this year because so many French admire President Obama.
“Obama helped gain our reputation back on the global stage,” Wulstein said. The Donald, by comparison, isn’t sure about NATO and keeps expressing his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not good.
Heading across the Pacific instead of the Atlantic doesn’t help.
“The worst part about being abroad for 4 weeks is having to explain to people that most Americans are not like Trump. It’s embarrassing,” tweeted Californian Tom Pawlicki as he was returning from Hong Kong.
A Washington neighbor of mine who recently traveled to India, Vietnam and Cambodia said she was questioned about our election everywhere she went.
“People abroad seem afraid for themselves if Trump is elected,” she said. “In Cambodia or Vietnam we got a lot of questions about our love of guns. We met not a single person who thought Trump would be a good candidate.”
Even our neighbors up north — the ones who seem just like us except for guns, poutine and good manners — are baffled by the meteoric rise of the real estate magnate and reality TV star.
“On vacation with Canadian friends,” reported Travis Bonnette-Kim, a United Methodist pastor from Massachusetts, on Twitter. “Trying to explain America’s obsession with Trump is hard. Mainly because I don’t understand it either!”
Of all those staycation summers — when no amount of over-chlorinated, local pool water will cool a jealous burn over the parade of exotic vacation pics we’re seeing on Facebook — this one may not be so bad.
I already fulfilled my Trumpsplaining duties this year on a family trip to Mexico.
“How are you going to come back for vacation if that Trump man builds his wall?” asked one of the charming hotel employees we met in Yucatan, who taught us to say good morning (Ma’alob k’iin) and thank you (Ni’bo’olal) in his native Mayan.
Merrit Drucker was so mortified by the way Trump has talked about Mexico, he didn’t even leave the United States to launch an apology tour.
He lives in the nation’s capital, so he wrote a letter to Mexico’s ambassador to the United States and had it notarized, trying to make it part of an official record to the Mexican people.
“I wish to extend an apology to you, your family, and the Mexican people for the unkind and inaccurate statements about the Mexican people, made recently by Mr. Donald Trump, a Republican candidate for the President of the United States. These were unwarranted, gratuitously insulting, and not the hallmark of a Statesman,” wrote Drucker, 65, who once worked as a D.C. economic development official.
I checked with the embassies from other countries (long list) that Trump has insulted. None said they’ve received similar letters of apology from the U.S. citizenry. But folks in the diplomatic corps said they are often greeted by “I’m so sorry” from Americans they meet.
And they’re all working double-overtime, of course, trying to Trumpsplain for all their folks back home.
But come on, world. We know that plenty of y’all totally get what’s going on.
Back in Europe, my high school friend said that on many evenings, after a few more beverages are consumed, a reluctant European empathy unveils itself.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to also mentioned the same things happening in their countries. The rise of Marine Le Pen and the Front National in France, the anger against Angela Merkel in Germany,” Wulstein said.
When Wulstein and her family left France for Italy this week, the burning of some immigrant camps there underscored the continent’s struggle with immigration and the simmering nationalism fueling some of our political rhetoric stateside:
“In fact, last night, while having yet another appero with our Italian hosts, [the] father quipped: ‘Well, it’s your turn now. We had [former Italian prime minister Silvio] Berlusconi, and you have Trump. But it’s much worse with Trump because America is much more important in the world.’ ”
And then there’s Brexit, the British vote to exit the European Union.
Our friends who are taking in the London theater scene reported that the usual English criticism of America is quite tempered now.
“It’s different this time because they [messed] up with Brexit and can’t shake their heads at horrible U.S. politics,” she said. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who championed Brexit, “is a huge embarrassment, especially for those who first elected him in the city of London.”
In other words, Londoners acting appalled about Trump would be a little like people living in glass houses throwing stones, right?
“Glass skyscraper right now,” my London friend added.
A weekend at Ocean City isn’t looking so bad now, is it?