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'Eat My Dust, Hear My Drum': American Modesty Has Died. I Killed It

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I know I'm good. We are the best. USA rules. To be American, these days, is to pound on a drum. Bim, bam, bang. Our king-of-the-jungle beat.

My kid did this. Hear me roar. Swallow my dust. We've got a national vibe: a steady vamp of self-esteem. Is this a sign of health? Our pumping heart? Psychologists, or some at least, say yes.

Our pride is loud. You say it's sounding hollow? Look around. Those who hear it have to be convinced. We're first in the world, we've told ourselves -- and we believe. The more we thump our chest the more we like the sound: Our kids. Our family. Our flag.

So, up with us. We win. We dominate.

We rule.

Modesty has died. You hadn't noticed? Its quiet nature made it marginal. It caught a cold. It stayed in bed. Our fireworks and gunshots killed it off.

The thing we once called manners is sounding quaint. A seersucker suit. A doily. A part of the time when people worried about being rude. About becoming -- can you remember? -- a bore.

The "aw, shucks" heroes who bowed their heads. They're pushing daisies. Sent to the dugout to sit by Sweet Lou Gehrig. Lost the election along with Silent Cal. All gone.

So now we're healthy braggarts. Want to see our wallet pictures? Check out our website. Buy our self-published book.

Don't ask why we need to yell -- it's only natural to crow. It's all about volume, all about broadcasting loud and clear. We used to mess with specifics. We used to admit mistakes. It didn't feel good. We took our lumps. That's over.

Others' gains are easy to forget. We're not in public a lot, and when we are we're in our stickered cars. I love my Honor Student. I 'heart' my SUV. I live on Nantucket, Santa Barbara, Lake Shore Drive.

Think this is a stretch? Let me tell you: I am confident it's right. This blog is key. The argument acute. The writing is stylish, sublime.

I know I'm good. Don't bother me with flak: My colors do not run.

Bim, bam, bang.

Eat my dust. Mind my words. Hear my drum.

Peter Mandel is a travel writer, and an author of picture books for kids including one about a construction worker who uses his belly on the job: Jackhammer Sam (Macmillan/Roaring Brook). and his newest, about zoo animals passing on a very noisy sneeze: Zoo Ah-Choooo (Holiday House).