Friday, October 21, 2005

The Lone American

On my bus home from work the English were the minority. The small cramped bus filled with different accents and languages. I heard Japanese, Indian, Spanish, an African language, and rising above the din of this multicultural scene were four very loud, very brass American accents.

To paraphrase David Sedaris, an American abroad will find no harsher critic than another American. Oh how true. Now that all the students are back, different languages and accents are heard all over Nottingham, which is great. Except for the Americans. Every time I hear a close cousin to my own voice coming out of some bland blond American mouth I cringe, my stomach turns.

It’s like they embody every ugly stereotype of someone from the U.S. of A. No, not just embody, embrace. It’s almost as if they are over here simply to perpetuate the rest of the worlds view of us as loud mouthed, gun chomping, idiots.

In France I never minded other Americans as much as I do here. In France I got to be superior. The Americans I met were all on vacation or studying abroad, where as I lived in Paris. They could never contain the respect and awe in their eyes when after asking me how long I was staying in Paris for, they heard my response: Indefinitely.

Sometimes the Americans I met could also fill in for a good cultural Americana refuelling. We’d drink screwdrivers together and talk about ALF and The Snorks, 7-11 slurpies and Cheetos. Those were good times. But in England I don’t need cultural refuelling. I have the Friends and Simpsons over here. I can eat Cheetos whenever I want.

But really the reason I recoil as the site and sound of my fellow countrymen is because I want to have a monopoly on the whole “obnoxious American in Nottingham” bit. This town ain’t big enough for the both of us, and the way I see it, I got here first.

It will be my harsh accent they fall in love with, my loud laugh that can be heard above the din of the pub that they will seek out, it will be me and only me they come to to find out what America is really like.

Fellow Americans in Nottingham, you are doing it wrong. There should be charm in your brassiness, there should be wit in your blunt remarks, and there should be endearment to you gullible, honest nature. Step aside and let a professional take over. Because you are SO cramping my style.


Donny B said...

Here here! This post feels like a speech, and a well-written one at that.

I understand what you mean. I don't mind being a little bit of that "loud American" when I'm abroad, as long as I feel it's coming across in a "oh, he's so full of life!" kind of way, not "all right, anyone have a gun?" kind of way.

Danielle said...

I only feel like a loud mouth American when I'm with you or reading what you write, because that's when laugh my hardest.

Lauren said...

thanks Donny, and I totally agree.

Danielle, I think it's a Jungian shadow thing. I loath these loud obnoxious american women on my turf, because that is truly what I am.

Neil said...

You will always be my favorite ugly American abroad broad.

Lauren said...

awww, cheers Neil.

Melanie said...

I can totally relate!