So it’s been a while. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wanted to sit down and write something in last three years comparing Europe’s lifestyle to the U.S., but not wanting to be “that person” I have resisted. Hence a pretty empty blog feed. Now that I’ve traded in my Brno tram pass for a Boston CharlieCard, I feel I’ve earned the right, so here goes.
There are so many directions I could go. Athletic wear as street clothes. Honking. (OK, in fairness, Americans don’t really have a monopoly on honking, but we’re right up there.) Guns. But I don’t really have the energy for that much controversy right now, so instead I give to you…the coatrack.
It’s such a simple concept. You enter an establishment, you shed your outerwear, and you sit down to enjoy your meal. Coats hung on a rack represent order. A commitment to the event, whether it’s a casual coffee with a friend, or dinner at a high-end restaurant. Whereas coats flung over the back of a chair imply the kind of hurriedness and chaos you would expect at, say, a TGI Friday’s. A sign that you’re just there long enough to fork down your meal and be on your way.
And that, IMNSHO, sums up the single biggest difference between the European and the American lifestyle. From traditional Viennese cafes, to the most casual of Czech pubs, no self-respecting European establishment is without plenty of simple racks, pegs, hooks, and other clever and convenient ways for patrons to stash their stuff. A place to hang your hat. An invitation to leave your troubles at the door and stay awhile.
Has lack of coat racks always been a thing here in the U.S., or did coat racks go out of fashion at some point? Did we evolve to throwing jackets over the back of chairs at the same time yoga pants became street wear, or was it a more gradual process? Would Americans use coat racks, given the chance? We can only hope.