Sunday, January 7, 2007

#54: They have all been to Florida

Jenny is going to hate this post.

Monica keeps a running list of strange things about the British, some of which are undeniably true (#46: Televised dart competitions) and some not as much (#5: There are no obese people here -- Obviously Monica has never visited South Wales). Some day in the future, I may attempt a list of strange things that are uniquely Welsh (They fear the Internet), but for the moment I thought I would just add to her list.

Almost anytime I meet someone new over here, the conversation will work its way toward two things:
1) What do you think of British people?
2) It's really different over here, isn't it?

Both of these questions, of course, are not actually questions. People are not asking for my opinion; they want to hear an American accent telling them that they are awesome. A similar thing happens in the U.S. when returning Yanks are asked, "What did you think of England*?" What the questioner expects of you is a tirade on everything wrong with the UK, and confirmation that he or she is a good and intelligent person for never having left the country. If you absolutely must speak well of Britain, it should be contained to a no more than three words: "It was OK."

That said, I have a bad habit of bursting people's bubbles on question No. 2. Yes, Britain is different than the United States, but in a lot of ways it is only different in the sense that Utah is different from Wisconsin. To a true outsider the two peoples are indistinguishable. When you lay this in front of a British person it makes them sad and they get quiet and don't want to talk to you anymore.

So, I pick them back up by pointing out that I find British people to be quite friendly.

Perhaps strange thing No. 55 is that most Britons feel a conversational obligation to negate Americans. They tend to do it ever so slightly, and they don't do it in a rude way. Arguably, it is simply done to keep the conversation moving. If they were to simply agree, we would run out of things to say and then do that thing of staring at a wall and wishing there were some football on the telly (I think the lack of this conversation element in the U.S. is part of the reason ESPN is on at every bar in the country).

At any rate, having received a compliment, the British person will usually counter with: "Oh, do you really find us to be friendly? I've always thought us to be cold and stand-offish."

"I think it has something to do with the accent," I say. "People hear me speak and they hear the accent and that automatically gives them something to talk about, and they'll usually come over and tell me how they've been to Florida, or..."

"Oh! I've been to Florida," the person will exclaim.

"Yes. I think it may be law."

I have run into a handful of Britons who have not been to Florida, but my assumption is that they will go there eventually. There or New York City.

*In the U.S., "England" = the whole of the UK and sometimes Ireland.


Rob said...

Speaking of football (the american kind, tho) on the telly: the seattle seahawks beat the dallas cowboys tonight in the NFC wildcard game. or rather, the cowboys handed the seahawks a victory they didn't earn. either way, it's a sign that people from Washington are superior to people from Texas. i hope that doesn't make you sad and quiet and not want to talk to people any more.

that is all at this time.

Huw said...

I have never been to Florida! But I am planning to go to New York. Damn.

Chris Cope said...

Bryan -- If I found a magic lamp, I would use one of my wishes to get a chance to kick Bill Parcells in the face. And my roots are in the Houston area, so I'm not really bothered. Good luck in the playoffs. Hopefully Holmgren won't implode on you again.

Huw -- You're young. You'll go to Florida, it's just a matter of time.

Anonymous said...

.ribbleHa! I don't hate that post, mainly because it is based in reality and you are not a bamstick like Brad.

I have never been to Florida, but there's still time.

Macascot said...

I will never go to Florida. Floridian kind of sounds like Chlamydia. I will go to New York though and Minnesota rocks!

Thomas said...

I'm with Jenny on this one. Yech!

Anonymous said...

Florida = hot sticky ass weather that it's impossible to be comfortable until the sun goes down

Orlando = shithole

Oh and Chris, after he's down, do you mind if I kick the Tuna in the gut a couple of times?

Anonymous said...

Pfff. They haven't been to Florida, they've been to Disney World. Which, as the name implies, is another planet altogether.

No obese Britons, eh?

That's quite a drink someone's having.

Anonymous said...

What is Bamstick?

Chris Cope said...

Good question Lupa. I know nothing of bamstick. I have, however, heard of a boomstick.

Curly said...

I had a similar discussion with some Yanks when I was visiting the states, most Brits seem to instantly tell you about their trip to Florida or New York (sometimes Texas) when you mention the USA. Poor Wyoming, I say. I've never been to anywhere other than Vermont.

I snigger at place names and customs as soon as I leave South Wales, everywhere's going to be different - but some more than others, and that interests people.

Chris Cope said...

Wyoming? Spare a thought for North Dakota.

Lindsay Hansen said...

Wow. The same stuff happened to me in Scotland. And yes, it's like Florida is the first place people consider visiting. Mind you, I hate Florida and wish it would just secede. Or sink into the ocean.

And by the way, my favorite stereotype about Brits is that they're all mild-mannered, bumbling, and sort of foppish, a la Hugh Grant. Whereas most of the Brits I know are rowdy, heavy drinkers.

Anonymous said...


mo** said...

Florida really?
I would much rather California- but then again I'm not British..

Nic said...

Add me to the list of people who haven't been to Florida, or New York.

I have been to Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming, though.

I'm a bit of a fatty, too.