Marcia and I have done a lot of international travel together over the years, and when we are in countries where English is not routinely spoken, we always become attentive to the times when we’re out on the town and unexpectedly hear strangers speaking our native tongue around us. More often than not, unfortunately, we find ourselves wishing that these unknown and unexpected English speakers would pass quickly out of our audible spheres, because it can be very annoying to have a resonant cultural moment or a peaceful stroll or a great meal marred by Yanks loudly complaining about or behaving badly in a world that doesn’t revolve around them. We try to be good ambassadors, after all, but not all of our fellow citizens consider such good behavior to be a priority. And that’s embarrassing and uncomfortable for everybody within earshot.
During our recent visit to Barcelona, Marcia and I were over-run on the streets one afternoon by a howling herd of Greater American Dude Brahs (species name: Pan Vomitus Vomitus) in full raging musth. After they had passed us by and quiet had been restored, in an attempt to turn this and potential future Ugly American annoyances into entertainment, Marcia and I formulated “The Gringo Game.” It is modeled after that simple staple of church fundraisers and low-octane gambling halls: Bingo. Each traveler participating in the Gringo Game is given a page containing a matrix of commonly-heard Americanisms abroad, and whenever one of these phrases is uttered by a stranger within the player’s hearing range, the player marks the box containing that phrase on his or her card. Once a player has seven marked boxes in a row — vertically, horizontally, or diagonally — on his or her card, the player shouts “GRINGO!!!” loudly, and is declared the winner.
To get you started on your next trip abroad, we’ve developed a model Gringo Game card for your amusement. Click on the image below for a full-sized printable PDF. Share it as widely as you’d like — and then when you travel, be careful not to say any of these things loudly while out on the streets, since you just might be helping some other player by doing so. You want to win, don’t you? Of course you do! You’re an American! Hell yeah!
Ready? Set? GRINGO!!!!