Monday, 14 December 2015

Fifty potentially offensive and/or incorrect observations about the USA.

Thanks mainly to the fact that my girlfriend is American, I have been to the States about twenty times. I have decided to write down a list of sweeping, potentially offensive, generalisations about America, its people and the differences between them and Britain.

1. America is big.
2. American food is generally better than British food. Notable exceptions to this rule include chocolate, Indian food and cheese.
3. All American men under forty call themselves 'libertarians'. This is a way of being a Republican and also smoking weed.
4. More people seem to smoke weed. My theory on this is that, seeing as until you're 21 it's easier to get hold of weed than alcohol, people develop a habit. A filthy habit.
5. America is really really big.
6. Outside of the odd city, walking anywhere is unusual. This is partly due to the fact that, because it's so big, it takes ages to get anywhere. Anyone seen walking is considered a crack head and is immediately shot.
7. Drink driving is perfectly socially acceptable. In Britain anyone driving after two drinks is considered murderous scum. In America, as long as you are sober enough to find your car, you are sober enough to drive it.
8. Americans drink less than Brits but not as much less as Brits think they do. If you order a glass of whiskey in the US you get a glass of whiskey, not a miserly measured thimble.
9. There is no such as a half pint of beer.
10. The selection of beer available is a lot better, the best selling beers are a lot worse.
11. The rules of pool in the US make no sense. A foul seems to incur no penalty other than losing your turn. You never get two shots.
12. Oddly, unlike in Britain, they sell Newcastle Brown Ale on tap.
13. If you get seriously ill in America you will almost certainly go bankrupt. Most people seem to just accept this and don't seem to be aware that it's not like that in most of the rest of the world.
14. The average American is a lot better at small talk than the average Brit. They are also better at loud talk.
15. American radio stations don't have proper names. They are all called something like WKNZ 96.7.
16. They could really do with BBC News.
17. American sports seem to be attended by men and women in equal measure. Going to an American sports event is as much about kiss cam and mascots as it is about sport. Unlike in European football (soccer), the home and away fans are not segregated.
18. Rich and poor, black and white people, are very segregated.
19. You will often drive through an area that looks perfectly nice, but be told that it is very rough.
20. Fewer Americans travel abroad but this seems understandable to me. For a start, it takes a lot longer and is a lot more expensive for someone from Kansas to leave America than it is for anyone to leave Britain. Also, in terms of landscape and climate, you can experience pretty much anything within the United States. Many Americans do seem scared of leaving though. They seem to be a lot more frightened by infrequent terror attacks in Europe than by frequent mass shootings on home soil.
21. They will never ever ban guns.
22. America is enormous. This makes all these generalisations redundant. As much as it has millions of red neck gun nuts, it has millions of liberal intellectual snobs. There are also millions and millions of people somewhere in between the two. It's big.
23. Commercial breaks are longer and far more frequent. Every other advert is for prescription drugs. They also have a lot more cheap, local adverts for car dealerships and law firms.
24. They like flags. A lot. They're fucking everywhere. Every tenth home has an American flag and every car dealership has 500 American flags. There are also plenty of other state and University flags knocking about.
25. College sports are a big deal. Even high school sports are on TV.
26. All bars have hundreds of TVs showing sports. Even posh restaurants have TVs showing sports at the bar.
27. The big talk shows (Fallon, Colbert etc) and Saturday Night Live all start at 11.30pm which leads me to think that Americans stay up late. Yes, James Corden has a 'big' show over there but it doesn't start till 12.30am.
28. Other than on HBO and Comedy Central, no one swears on American TV.
29. Most people don't have HBO. Most people do have Netflix.
30. Bacon is crispy and smaller.
31. Pie is sweet.
32. They talk about God and the military a lot more than we do. There are tributes to both everywhere.
33. Except school. The separation of church and state means that there's no religion in school at all.
33. American clothes are a lot bigger. American people aren't as much bigger than British people as British people think they are. They are bigger though but it's not all about fat. They're just broader which I think has something to do with their ancestors being tough enough to survive the boat ride over.
34. Service is much better. They actually seem like they really want to help you. This may have something but definitely not everything to do with tipping.
35. You tip everyone. Bar staff get a dollar a drink and it seems like they always have. That suggests that, thanks to inflation, being a bar tender paid a lot more thirty years ago than it does now.
36. Being a bar tender is a profession. They seem to be able to remember everyone's tab so you don't have to pay till the end.
37. They do get irony. Kind of.
38. They don't have a phrase for 'taking this piss' which strikes me as strange considering that's all that Chandler Bing ever did.
39. All American sports commentators have exactly the same voice.
40. America is really big. Sometimes freight trains go on for miles.
41. They don't find the English accent as attractive as I had been led to believe. Maybe it's just mine.
42. There are not as many Indian and Pakistani people. There are a LOT more Mexicans.
43. Anyone who can't drive by the time they are 20 has something wrong with them.
44. The bus is for poor people.
45. When they mean that they are 'speaking about' something they say that they are 'speaking to' something.
46. They don't say toilet. They say bathroom or restroom.
47. Toilets have a lot more water in them.
48. Cops are a lot more dickish.
49. They don't have kettles.
50. Coffee at home is nicer and comes with creamer. Coffee out is worse and in most places the only coffee place is Starbucks.

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