America is a land of hyphenated identity—
A melting pot, as it were, of cultural identity.
African-Americans and Asian-Americans, of course,
And gay-, Muslim- and Native-Americans are a force.
But Americans are also Irish, Welsh, and Scottish.
We have Germans and Swedes, but no Americans are English.
Strange, the English travelled to America to set up colonies
Take the land, kill a few million people, and do business in tea.
The English brought the Africans and many other immigrants,
But not one person, it seems, became and English-American.
Today’s Americans think the English lost the Revolutionary War;
The winners were English, too, but no one remembers that far.
So the white Americans who remain are of European descent,
But they are simply called American with no adornment.
Only if they want to declare they come from the original colonists
Will they call themselves Anglo-American with a nod and a sniff.
They call me a misanthrope and mock my isolation
I like solitude, but I don’t hate human interaction
I want to hear your stories, dreams, and travails
I want to share your secrets but not your pale ales
I think we could be soul mates, and there’s so much I want to hear
I want to talk for hours, but I don’t want another beer
I’d love to learn about cricket, rugby, snooker, and, yes, football
They require much more concentration and skill than any American sports at all
I know your team’s usually a contender, but this season they’ve had bad luck
The refs are all on the take, and the new management sucks
I’m looking forward to learning about scoring and champions cheers
God, I want to learn all the team statistics, but I don’t like beer
Yes, the weather is really crap, but tomorrow is supposed to be fine
It hasn’t been clear for a week, but at least the snow has been light
In another month or so, it will be nothing but steady rain
You should have bought the cottage your cousin sold in Spain
I’d like to learn more about what’s changing the atmosphere
But I’m going to be running home soon, because I don’t like beer
It’s a beautiful grandbaby. She’ll probably play for United
And that’s a lovely pram you bought. I can tell you’re excited
You’ve every reason to be proud. I think she’s the spit of you
It sounds like the delivery was tough going there for a few
I want to hear more about how death is always so near
And I’d stay to delve into it, but I don’t like beer
I’m sorry I don’t like beer. I think it is something genetic.
It’s just too bitter for me, but otherwise we’re copacetic*
It’s not that I’m a loner or wallow in desolation
You’re a great companion, leader, and inspiration
I think you’re just great, but I have to get out of here
I love people, I really do, but I don’t like beer
Last night, I was attending a gig at one of my favourite Manchester venues. One of the people from the venue was standing near the stage, which put him right in front of the passage to the venue’s comfort facilities. I usually use my best British English, but I slipped and said, “Excuse me, I just need to get to the rest room . . . toilet. I need the toilet.”
I wasn’t fast enough; he immediately said, “You Americans always seem to need a rest. I have a sofa if you need a quick lie down.” He followed with, “Americans don’t like to say ‘toilet,’ do they? Why is that?” I said, “Well, I think some Americans think it sounds a little crude.” (Note: I come from a family that was reticent about mentioning this process at all. The word “facilities” seemed too direct for us.)
He then said, “For Americans, ‘toilet’ refers to the actual device, doesn’t it?” “Yes,” I said, “If you ask Americans where the toilet is, they are likely to tell you it is in the bathroom.”
“Ah, yes,” he said, “When Americans ask to use my bathroom, I tell them ‘Sure, but don’t soak too long. Tea will be ready soon.’”
Goodness, how long does it take to make a cup of tea?*
*Yes, I do know the answer to this, but that is for another post.