The ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ meets “Pursuer of Happiness”

3 Nov

There are some fundamental differences between those lovely chaps the Brits and their American cowboy counterparts.  And not just the use of ‘quotes’ instead of “quotes” (that extra little mark really makes all the difference).

So how about a controversial post written in as diplomatic a manner as I can muster (which means…not very diplomatic).

To get the negatives out of the way right off the bat, the British seem to have a bit of an attitude towards us Americans.  Well, some of them.  They tend to fall into two categories: Parents and Grandparents.

The Parent British person sees the average Teenager American as a sullen, rambunctious teenager who chooses to throw caution to the wind, demand their pursuit of happiness, and live for fast food.  (I’m not saying there isn’t truth to this stereotype. There is plenty.) It’s hard to determine whether the Parent British is resentful that the Teenager American seems to be surviving okay despite ignoring all parental advice and wisdom, or a tad jealous that the Teenager American can live life in this manner.

The Grandparent British person is a little more indulgent towards the innocent yet ignorant Teenager American.  Pats on the head “well done” are mingled with little reproaches “that’s not how we did it in my time!”  They are a bit more conciliatory (distance helps) but also perplexed as to why we chose to rock the boat in such a dramatic government-war-taxation way.  And are pizza and hamburgers really essential when one can have fish and chips and a Yorkshire pudding?  But they smile at us, because they are still hopeful that one day we will grow up and change.

Americans are a little simpler (sorry, it’s true).  We basically view British peers as a more cautious population – they like their afternoon tea and biscuits and a good program on telly.  Americans like to shake things up with their Tea Party (both the event and the political party) and dramatic spectacles like Occupy Wall Street.  The British want to watch TV in peace. The Americans want to be on TV.

Like all stereotypes, those are all based in truth and completely false. Funny how that works.

A better way to determine if someone is American or British is with the following Lizquiz:

1.  Check their spelling.  Extraneous letters and -s- instead of -z- usually means they are British.
2. Check their dates.  If they use the illogical month-day-year method, they are American.
3. How do they feel about the French?
– They like the average Frenchman on the street?  American.  They can’t explain why they don’t like the average Frenchman on the street but they don’t?  They are British.
– They agree with the French government most of the time? They are British.  They can’t explain why they don’t like the French government but they don’t?  They are American.
4. PG Tips or herbal tea?  If PG Tips is not in your vocabulary, you’re automatically American.
5. Do you prefer wide open spaces?  Probably American.
6. When entering a store, are you upset when the store keeper ignores you?  You’re an American in England.
When entering a store, are you annoyed when the staff chat with you multiple times, offer you suggestions on clothing to wear, comment on your grocery purchases?  You’re a British person in America.  Or an American in America.  Tricky, this one.
7.  You visit places like Graceland to see Elvis’ eternal flame? British.  You visit places like Stonehenge? American.  Or a British person who got roped into showing an American around their “little island.”
8.  Do you live on an island?  If you answer “yes” you are probably British.  If you answer “no” you are an ignorant American.  We all live on islands.  Just varying sizes.
9.  Are they wearing sneakers but not playing a sport? American. Are they actually spending time looking at other people’s footwear?  British.
10. Do you feel your government owes you something? You’ve been wronged in some way? Your spelling is better? Your eating habits are better? Your accent is superior? Your fashion sense is superior? Your taste buds are higher class?   Unfortunately, this just proves you are a human being.

If you answered no to #10, who are you? And how have you survived this world? You can be the feature in my next post. With your limp lower lip and pursuit of pain.


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