Friday, 11 May 2007

Mothers Day, USA

Sunday is Mother’s Day in the USA. I know this because we are having some American visitors over for lunch. Two friends from New York are flying over to England with their mothers, as a Mother’s Day present, which is a bit more upmarket than a handmade card and a box of Maltesers. Part of their trip is a visit chez Drunk Mummy, for Sunday lunch (eeek! I’ll have to get out of my dressing gown!).

I am unfashionably fond of Americans. I think they get a really bad press. The USA is a country of 300 million people, yet there frequently seems to be a snobbish and rather patronising tendency to portray them all as George Bush-loving thickoes, with no sense of irony. If people were to make assumptions about me (as one of 60 million people) on the basis of Tony the Vicar of St Albion, and reality TV, I would be seriously hacked off.

I find most Americans I meet to be extremely friendly, once you get over the initial shock of hearing a middle-aged lady discuss how she has put weight on her fanny. It also surprises me when they are derided for their insincerity (see T. Blair, above) especially with regard to customer service. So what if the American shop assistant doesn’t really care whether or not I actually do have a nice day? I would rather have fake interest than the genuine disregard I encountered today from the languid shop assistant, who glared at me for having the cheek to want to actually buy something. I think she was annoyed that I had interrupted her long-running daydream about becoming (or maybe just having) a personality.

The other important cultural difference that I need to sort out when meeting up with American friends is the use of the phrase ‘really pissed’. I suppose it’s possible to be really pissed when you are really pissed, but then, no-one likes an aggressive drunk.

I ought to be drinking something American tonight, but I have been waiting for Friday night to finally sample a Marks and Spencer rosé Prosecco (£7.49). This is a recommendation from Rob and Silvana at Landcroft House, whose blog is always a feast for all the senses. I love prosecco, and this is an unusual one - fresh and light, it reminds me of those ‘cherry lips’ sweeties I used to get when I was young.

It seems that I have a few cultural prejudices to overcome in my own household. When I told my kids that our friends were bringing their mothers over for a visit, and that one of these lovely elderly American ladies was really looking forward to meeting them, one of them asked me “Will she have a gun in her handbag?”

Maybe I will tell them that she has, just to make sure they behave themselves.


mutterings and meanderings said...

You post made me giggle, but I have to disagree with you on this one.

I have known a few in my time and worked with a few. Perhaps I have been dreadfully unlucky, but there was only one that wasn't superficial, who I was able to talk to past a certain level - and he was a complete Anglophile.

I am a cultural snob.

dulwichmum said...

You have hit the nail on the head - the two phrases that they use that just make the hair stand up on the back of my neck! You are even right about Landcroft House - Rob and Silvana! All agreed tonight.

We must have been separated at birth!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

The French have so much to learn from American customer service. Who cares if it's insincere, it gets you what you want.

We have a couple of really good American friends, close enough to tell us what they think of the's very illuminating!

Have a lovely lunch.

Anonymous said...

Oh go on PITK - please tell us!

'Suspenders' versus 'braces' always makes me giggle!

The Grocer said...

Oh M&M you are just continuing to portray the sterotypical response that DM was outlining on the basis of a few encounters out of 300 million. I have met a few too, some of them were tossers but some of them are really nice people who are genuine, funny and intelligent and can even do irony if pushed.
Get out more.

rilly super said...

dear drunk mummy, I hope you enjoyed your mothers day USA weekend and resisted the temptation to see how many times you could get them to say Fanny. I must say I have always been rather fond of those of our colonial cousins that one comes across this side of the atlantic. I suppose we have all had our different personal experiences and as with any johnny foreigner, without going to live there we have to rely on the selection of individuals whose paths we chance across.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Grocer, I get out plenty thank you.

I speak as I find - and that is what I have found.

mutterings and meanderings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beta mum said...

I went to school in the States for a year when I was eighteen, and by way of explaining what Jersey (Channel Islands) was well known for, I said
"People go there on holiday for the cheap booze and fags."
I was, truly, an innocent abroad.

Drunk Mummy said...

M&M - glad to have your opinion on these pages, and speaking as you find is fine by me.

Dulwich Mum - there are some spooky co-incidences!

Pig - like Spymum says - you should spill the beans.

Spymum - I will never forget the shock and confusion on hearing a colleague described as 'the guy who wears suspenders.' I spent days looking at his trouser legs to see if I could see any telltale signs below the fabric.

Grocer - I agree it seems mad to generalise so much. Do you get many American visitors in your shop?

Rilly - I have lived in the US - twice, and was shown amazing warmth and kindness by the majority of people I met. I never was quite able to get over the 'fanny' thing though!

Beta Mum - The 'two nations divided by a single language' idea does hold true!

Rob said...

I hope you enjoyed the prosecco - I spotted one lurking in our secret, out-of-sight-out-of-mind drinks fridge yesterday. I might just pop that cork tonight...

Drunk Mummy said...

Rob - yes, I loved it - thanks for recommending it. I am impressed that your out of sight drinks fridge manages to stay out of mind. I don't think that would work in my house!

lilokmermaid said...

Thank you for linking the slang terms to the free dictionary. I was unaware of the very different meanings those two particular phrases have in the UK. Should I ever have the opportunity to visit your wonderful country, I shall definitely avoid using either phrase. Love your blog. I'll continue to read it for fun and education. (A new reader from Oklahoma)

Drunk Mummy said...

Hello lilokmermaid!
I'm glad you enjoy the blog. I think if you do visit the UK you should use both phrases as often as possible!