To celebrate the 4th of July (American Independence Day) we’re running a bit of a “revenge post”.
Why? Well, because as you may know, I once wrote a pretty popular critique about American culture. I meant it to be tongue in cheek, and I wrote it years ago, but to this day, no one ever lets me hear the end of it!
So today, my American girlfriend (who I love very much, so no more of this “the guy who hates Americans” nonsense please!) is getting her revenge by sharing the European things I say and do that she likes to make fun of. Enjoy!
I’ve got a European boyfriend, and as much as I love him, he says all kinds of crazy stuff…
You know how some Americans who visit Europe for the first time come back saying how much better things are in Europe? The trains… the pedestrian streets… the tiny shot-glasses they expect you to drink out of whenever you order a glass of water (when they don’t force you to buy a bottle).
Well, I’m not that girl. I’m more like the girl from the Magic Schoolbus who was always saying “At my old school, we didn’t do things this way at all…”
I’m her. Except I’m more likely to be saying “In America, you can go to the grocery store at 4am in your pajamas to buy bagel bites, and the cashier will smile, ask how you are, and tell you to have a nice day.”
I’m a proud American. And Benny, my boyfriend, is a proud European who’s been very vocal about his cultural clashes with America. Naturally that leads to a healthy dose of teasing each other about the special features of our respective homelands.
Since this weekend is America’s birthday, I get to tease him in public, by sharing some of the more head-shake worthy things my non-American boyfriend has said to me. Like…
That Time He Called Me “Hubby”…
This was so cute. Growing up in Ireland, Benny got a lot of American TV, and from that he learned a bunch of American terms of endearment, like “baby” and “sweet pea” and… “hubby.”
Except with that last one, he didn’t quite put together that “hubby” was only ever used by married women talking to their husbands. He thought it was a weird form of “honey”. I had to gently tell him, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
That Time He Said He Didn’t Understand Why Anyone Would Wear Sweat Pants…
Let’s just get one thing straight. Sweatpants are glorious. Anyone who has ever worn them knows this to be an undisputed truth of the universe.
So when Benny said to me, “I don’t get why anyone would ever wear sweatpants”, it was obvious that he’s never experienced the freedom and comfort that is the sweatpants-wearing-experience.
I get why he said that though. Travelling around Europe, in many countries, no matter how early in the morning it is, people just don’t leave the house until they’re fully showered, groomed and dressed for the day. It’s superhuman. In America it’s totally normal to see people in their sweatpants (or PJs) during their early morning runs to the coffee shop or grocery store. But it looks super weird to Europeans.
That Time I Had to Explain the Easter Bunny…
“So… a giant rabbit breaks into your house to deliver chocolate and hide eggs in your couch cushions…”.
Uh, pretty much!
When you put it that way, yeah, I guess it sounds a little strange, but so do all holiday traditions! Apparently the Easter Bunny was not a thing for Benny growing up in Cavan. He told me that there the chocolate was mostly used as a way to reward children for behaving during long church services.
On a side note, if you’re ever chatting with other non-Americans, ask them about their own holiday traditions. You’ll get into some hilarious stories. I died laughing when my Czech friend Petr told me about their tradition of the Christmas Devil who beats people with sticks and threatens to drag children down to hell. Merry Christmas!
That Time he Discovered the Dollar Tree…
As a child I was dragged to the Dollar Tree every weekend by my Mom as part of our pre-grocery shopping ritual. But to Benny, the Dollar Tree is a place of magic.
During one trip to America about a year ago, he got so excited about finding a dollar tree that he walked slowly up and down each aisle, pondering over every useless piece of plastic. And he was amazed that it was still open at 8:30 at night. European stores close way earlier (ah, American convenience).
But then he got really mad when the cashier charged him $1.06 for an item (a dollar plus tax). To this day he still complains about “false advertising”, since “you can’t actually buy anything for just a dollar”.
That Time He Freaked out about Red Solo Cups…
The first time he saw people playing beer pong with red solo cups, he said, “Those are like the ones on American Pie!”
…Yes, he actually said that.
So, apparently, in Europe, red solo cups are sold as novelty items. They’re advertised with sales copy like “These are real red American party cups, as seen in American movies like American Pie!” And they’re expensive. I had to explain that in America we use them for beer pong precisely because they’re everywhere and they’re cheap.
That Time He Thought Taylor Swift Was a Pickup Artist…
This was a few years ago. I mentioned Taylor Swift in a conversation, and Benny asked me “Is he one of those pickup artist guys?” He asked it with a straight face, so I knew he wasn’t kidding.
This can only be outdone by the time we watched a video referencing Full House, and he said, “I’ve never heard of that show.” My mind was blown. It’s just so hard to imagine – think of all the pop culture references he’s missing!
In Ireland they get American shows like Married with Children, The Simpsons and so many other shows, but apparently Full House never made it across the pond, at least not while Benny was growing up. The one upside to this is that he’ll never know the trauma we had to endure when Bob Saget started doing standup.
Later he made a big deal out of the fact that I’d never heard of Kylie Minogue. It turned out, after some argument, that I had seen Kylie Minogue before as the green fairy in Moulin Rouge. But I’d always just assumed she was a tiny Nicole Kidman.
Every Time He Gets Excited about Free Refills…
Free refills in restaurants are not a thing in Europe. Not for sodas, not even for coffee.
So when we’re in America at a restaurant, he would drain his soda cups as fast as he could and then waits like a kid at Christmas for the next one to arrive without him having to ask, “like magic”.
Of course, this isn't good for you at all so he only does this now on cheat days!
I used this as an opportunity to explain that the reason food portions are so big in America is -not- because we always eat that much in one sitting, but because we like to extend the restaurant experience by taking the leftovers home for lunch the next day. It’s economical. Two meals for the price of one!
Happy birthday, America!
Disclaimer: This post uses hyperbole for comedic effect. In other words, this is meant to be a fun post, not to be taken too seriously. Trolling comments will be deleted.
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.