Cripes almighty Americans are loud. Voices-reverberating-off-the-walls loud.
The child bride and I found ourselves reflecting on that fact this morning after bidding farewell to a group of Yanqui who had stayed with us Wednesday night.
Rachel and I have only lived here for two months and already we are making this observation. Soon we will sewing Canadian flags into our backpacks.
The Yanqui in question were a group headed up by the child bride's friend from university, Rachel Kossover. Also making the U.S. presence felt were Koss' brother, Nathan, and a friend from Koss' Case Western days, Dawn (yes, all of us have blogs -- the extreme geekiness here is making me numb).
The three of them are doing that American thing of going on a whirlwind tour through England, Wales and Ireland in the space of about a week, so the child bride and I had only a few hours to make a good impression for Wales. That's the way I always feel when people come to visit from out of town, that I need to make a good impression for the area I'm living in.
We took the Yanqui trio to St. Fagan's. Also known as the museum of Welsh life, it is a collection of actual buildings that have been collected from throughout Wales and reassembled a few miles outside of Cardiff. It sounds infinitely duller than it actually is. It is, in fact, the child bride's favourite place to hang out and I have no doubt that pretty soon, everyone that works there will know us by name.
One of them does, already -- Sara, the lovely lady at St. Fagan's who can tell you all about Eglwys Sant Teilio. Although, the child bride and I simply refer to it as "Sara's church." I'm sure she would approve.
Thankfully, Sara was around Wednesday to show us her church and then commit an act of charity that puts her well toward sainthood in the Church of Chris -- she gave us a ride home. Inexplicably, the 32 bus had failed to show up. Cardiff Bus Co. seems to be run by that guy you knew in college who had to drop out so he could dedicate more time to pot smoking. We were in the process of wondering what to do when Santes Sara turned up in her minuscule car.
I'm still new to British cars, so I can't say for certain that she drives a two-door Austin Metro, but whatever she drives is of the same basic size. Nonetheless, we were able to cram six people into the vehicle -- Sara and me** up front; the child bride, Koss, Nathan and Dawn all packed into the rear, which would normally be a squeeze for just two people -- and bumble off toward Cardiff, the suspension pleading with us to make it a short trip.
I have spent most of the day waiting for an angry phone call from Sara: "I can't get the stench of Americans out of my car. I demand that you pay to have it cleaned."
After arriving safely home and cleaning up a bit, our American quintet went out to eat at La Tasca, which I realise is a chain restaurant, but a chain restaurant that we didn't have in Minnesota, so it's new to me. Once seated and supplied with sangria and lager, Nathan and I proceeded to have a very loud discussion about which NFL team is going to suck more this year -- the Vikings, the Browns, the Ravens or the Lions. We came to the conclusion that NFL teams that finish in last place should be forced to play the No. 1 college team; and if they lose that game, they shouldn't be allowed to compete in NFL for a year. We carried on like this for a few hours.
Eventually it was time to dash out and catch our bus, where we met two of Cardiff's brain trust teenage girls. When Nathan sat down and started chatting with the girls, I'll admit that the child bride and I thought it was going to be one of those loud-drunken-American-brings-shame-to-the-nation things, but instead it turned into one of those holy-shit-these-girls-are-thicker-than-a-drunk-guy things.
Teenage Girl: "Where you from?"
Drunken Nathan: "Cleveland."
Long pause and blank stare from girls.
DN: "Ohio. Cleveland, Ohio."
TG: "That's in Hawaii, innit?"
DN: "No. I'd be a happier man if I lived in Hawaii."
TG: "Is it hot?"
TG: "Yeah, is it hot?"
DN: "Not really. Sometimes it can be. It can also get pretty cold and snowy."
TG: "Like the North Pole?"
DN: "Uhm, not so much."
TG: "Is it close to New York?"
DN: "About a 12-hour drive. Is that close?"
TG: "Twelve hours drivin'?"
TG: "I don't think I wanna go. I ain't never been to New York, but I think here is better."
The conversation carried on for about five minutes, until the girls' brains had overheated and they were forced to stare blankly at their mobile phones.
Back at home, we spent an hour or so chatting really loudly before the Yanqui trio had to go to bed -- they had to catch a 7:30 a.m. train today.
After they were gone, Rachel and I found ourselves thinking about how loud we had all been. We wanted to call Sara and apologise and then call Chris and Jenny to ask if we had been too loud when we came to visit recently. Then we thought of people we know who are loud by American standards and just sort of held our heads in shame at the possibility that those people will come out to visit.
You know how a lot of blogs have categories? For example, if you went to Donal's blog, but didn't want to read anything other than posts relating in some way to Dublin, all you'd have to do would be click a link and then, viola**, it's all organised for you.
But who is this feature for? Does anyone really use it when reading blogs? I feel like I'm missing something.
Perhaps my failure to see the point of categorising blog posts is yet another sign of age. The child bride and I both spent several minutes muttering profanities at her phone while the two of us attempted to text a response to a question that had been sent by Koss.
"No, that's not what I want to say at all, you fucking little..."
"Shouldn't there be a space there?"
"Yes, but how do I do that?"
"Fucking waste of time."
"I hate this thing."
"I hate it more."
*I got shotgun because I am a speaker of The Sacred Welshy Code. More and more when people ask me why I've learned Welsh, I want to say: "Guess how many free pints it's earned me."
**I love misspelling that word.