Background: I was living in Norway when the beloved king died in January of 1991. I forget his name, but probably Olav. All Norwegians are required to be named Olav or Tor at birth, based on the same European law that requires all Finns to be named Pertti or Jakko, all Irishmen to be named Sean or Patrick, and all Austrians to be named Franz, without exception.
Anyway, because it was the time of the Gulf War, Bush the Elder needed to send somebody inessential to represent the USA, so Dan Quayle was dispatched to the funeral ceremonies. Perfect choice. As I recall, Quayle’s middle name was actually Inessential. Although he was somehow a hair’s-breadth from the presidency, his level of incompetence would have been seat-filler at the Oscar ceremonies.
The problem in Norway was that Quayle was inessential for a very good reason – he was dumb as a box of rocks. He attended the funeral in a tan summer suit and street shoes.
To a state funeral.
Within a few minutes in Oslo, his pants were covered with slush and he looked like a little kid who went out to play in the snow in his big boy pants, but without his boots. Plus there was the whole wacky move of wearing tan to a funeral. Talk about time for Bugs Bunny to appear and declare “what a maroon.” And that is how Norwegians probably picture Americans to this day.
(For a few weeks afterwards, we American expats were all pretending to be Canadian. It’s easy to do. Just say “oat” instead of “out,” “a boat” instead of “about,” make every sentence into a question ending with “eh?” – and apologize for everything.)