In the immortal words of Vincent Vega: "It's the little differences. I mean they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it's just, just there it's a little different."
I have long maintained that the good old USA has no culture of its own and, with the exception of fast food, baseball, Hollywood movies, and handguns, I still believe it to be true. Any cultural identity we might have is a patchwork of other nationalities that American immigrants bring with them and adapt to our rather unique society. Keeping that in mind, nothing fascinates me more than how what little culture America does have seems to be migrating to other countries.
This all hit me at lunch today. A friend had recommended that since I am a huge Johnny Rockets fan, I should try the Irish equivalent which is called Eddie Rockets. So there I sit in a diner that is so American I can almost forget I'm in Ireland when I look up and see a sign advertising "chilli." For a reason I cannot fathom, there is an extra "l" in there. Whether this is unique to the Irish, or something all Euro English-speaking nations have adopted, I'm not certain (dammit, if you're going to steal our native cuisine, at least spell it properly!). Anyway, all illusions I have of being back home have just been shattered, and I start to think about the many other small differences I've noticed over the past few days...
Cold. When you order something "cold" in the US, it arrives cold... ice cold. When you order something "cold" in Europe it arrives un-hot, which is to say that it's not very cold at all. Even the ice here doesn't seem as cold as it does back home.
Walk. Europeans walk everywhere, all the time, at great distances. This is quite a contrast to lazy-ass Americans who will pull the car out of the garage if the distance they need to travel is over four blocks. If it weren't for those who exercise, I wonder if Americans would bother to walk anywhere at all?
Smoke. All Europeans smoke... just not all at the same time (though, often enough, it may seem that way). If you see a European who is not smoking, it's because they have run out of cigarettes, run out of matches, or are under the age of 5. This morning I was nearly run over by what I swear was a 10-year old smoker on a skateboard.
Funny. Americans used to have a terrific sense of humor, but then the Age of Lawyers descended and now everything has to be "politically correct" (aka "boring"). Fortunately, that doesn't seem to have happened over here... yet.
Goth. I pretty much think that anybody dressing up as a goth looks ridiculous. For reasons that escape me, the Irish goths seem to be able to pull it off.
ATM: The cash machines over here are queued a minimum of five deep at any given time. If there's an ATM without a line in front, it must be broken.
Fat: It used to be when you ran across an overweight person walking down the streets of Europe, you could safely assume one of two things: A) It's an American tourist... or... B) It's a Japanese sumo wrestler. This is no longer the case. Thanks to the importation of the American diet of McDonalds, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, the person in question may very well be a native. I've never been so proud. GO AMERICA!!
Music: In walking down Grafton Street this afternoon, I noticed that 100% of the street musicians here are more talented than 50% of the "musicians" on America's top 100 Pop Charts.
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I’ve always spelled ‘chilli’ with two ‘l’s – Google gives 1 million results for 2 ‘l’s and 5 million for 1 ‘l’. Dictionary.com says its a variant.
I don’t know what it’s like in Ireland (though did you notice that all the bars are non-smoking over there?) but in the UK just under a third of the population smoke. The numbers are slowly decreasing. Our cigarette packets are amusing since at least 50% of the surface area of the packet must have a warning like “Smoking kills” or “Smoking is addictive, don’t start” or “Smoking causes a slow and painful death” (I’m not making these up).
As for obesity, again I’m unsure about Ireland but it is a big problem in Britain and it’s only getting worse. Still, at least we walk more 🙂
Of course, my entry today would probably make a lot more sense to people if they understand I’m full of crap. I’m a “right cheeky bastard” with a tendency to exaggerate.
As for spelling, most of the time it’s we American’s who’ve got it wrong. After all, we took the language from you when we came here… then mangled it after a long, slow process that deftly explains our deteriorating education system. So when it comes to words like “humour” and “realise” I admit we’re the lot who have buggered it up. But chili originated in the States, so two l’s is just wrong.
You see, in addition to grossly exaggerating everything, I’m also arrogant and opinionated. I am an American, after all. 🙂
America is so designed for the automobile and not for pedestrians that it is actually easier, faster and safer to cross a road in your can than on foot. We found this all the time. We’d be in one shopping centre and want to cross the road. The roads are so wide and the blocks so big that it is almost impossible to cross safely on foot. At least where we went that was the case 🙂
That should read car, not can 🙂