I’ve learned a lot about life from watching The Simpsons for the last 22 years and 499 episodes. Donuts can do anything; don’t forfeit your dental insurance in favor of a keg of beer; make sure you know how to get to the hospital if you order blowfish at a sushi restaurant; lay off the Guatemalan insanity peppers.

Sure, there were seasons that I’d rather forget–some episodes just didn’t live up to the expectations the show had set for itself. How could anyone expect the show to be as great as those years Conan O’Brien worked for them? Even with those lackluster seasons, I remained an avid fan. I was ecstatic when I found 15 seasons of DVDs on a street corner in Shenzhen for a couple dollars (unfortunately, the Chinese subtitles weren’t accurate enough to help me learn the language). Had I taught discussion class rather than writing, I would have probably forced my students to watch my favorite episodes.

Besides life lessons, The Simpsons has provided me with invaluable travel advice. I know that if I want my toilet to flush the proper American way in Australia, I have to visit the U.S. embassy. And I better not cause an international incident because I don’t want a booting.

Here are some of the other travel-related lessons:

  • Beware Godzilla-related turbulence when flying in and out of Japan.
  • Argentinian children’s TV shows are much more sexually suggestive than American ones.
  • Even Bart can learn French. How difficult can it be?
  • An American dollar goes a long way in Toronto.
  • Don’t play a rhinoceros’ rear like a drum; they don’t like it.
  • Bronson, MO, might be more entertaining than Branson.
  • All parking attendants in New York City are named Steve.
  • And go easy on the crab juice.

I’m sure there are more lessons that I’ve learned, but that’s all I can think of at the moment. I’ll have to get myself prepared for the 500th episode tonight…and, I hope, many more to come.


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