Almost as American as Apple Pie

Back Camera

So have I told you the one about the Dean of Studies that casually and completely punctures a student’s sense of je ne sais quoi?

Not to humble-brag but I’ve travelled a fair bit: you may have heard about the time I lived in Cambodia. When the opportunity came to move to New York I figured nothing could be easier. An English-speaking destination, a metropolis: how different from London could it really be? I would move there, be the exotic English rose, and the Big Apple would part before me like the Red Sea. International Woman of Mystery here, culture shock is not in my vocabulary!!

Oh, how little I knew.

Metrocards. The Metro itself. The tragic transition to a $1 note instead of my trusty 1 quid coin (did you see that; nifty navigation of the absent pound sign or what?). Chicken sausage. Talkative homeless people.  Talkative strangers in general. Potent air-conditioning. Potent heating. Drawls. Unbeatably changeable weather. Cabs that turn on red. Cab drivers that ask for directions. Sorority girls. Frat guys. Chili fries. The national obsession with pumpkin. The Sales Tax Bitchslap phenomenon. How much money does a dime actually represent???

But I’m cool, I can handle this, I can adapt and look good doing it. IknowwhatI’mdoingIknowwhatI’mdoingIknowwhatI’mdoing. Think suave thoughts. Try not to let your mouth fall open. You’re doing great. Stand up straight, chin up, chest out, ignore the cussing hobo, smile and think about eagles and the Yankees and General Custer, and explain to a self-confessed Francophile that his ideological choices don’t actually mean you can’t be friends. You’re doing great.

Cue the Dean of Studies. “Oh, Lauren. You’re looking much better!” *Blank stare* “Well, you looked a little shell shocked at first.”

Damnit!

So it is with great, if wry, symmetry that it occurs to me that I’ll just have truly found my feet, really settled into my American life, when I have to pack up my star spangled baggage and leg it for the homeland.

How do I know this? Because I did the most American thing ever, and I loved it… Baby’s first Yankee’s game!!!

Night has fallen outside but you’d struggle to notice without looking straight up; floodlights fill Yankee Stadium with ersatz daylight. To be so brightly lit and so excited so late on a Sunday night, a day synonymous with rest and idleness, puts the whole evening into a strange hinterland, a twilight zone, where the rules don’t seem to apply quite as they should. Everything about the game is bright: the huge screens, the saturated green of the grass and orange of the diamond. The sea of navy Yankee’s fans ebbs and surges during the game, wandering off in search of hotdogs or jumping to its feet for home runs; one living being with sportsmanship for blood. It seems like the life force of a whole city is concentrated right here for one night. High up, almost in the eaves of the stadium, looking down on it all, who wouldn’t get a little drunk on America’s pride?!

Ok, so I could have gone about it in a more American way. I made Liam have his picture taken by himself instead of awakening my inner #fomo whore (which, by the way, he appreciated not. one. bit.) I didn’t eat any sliders or peanuts and I didn’t chug any Bud Lite… BUT there were people chanting USA! USA! USA! There were big screens with eerily tired-looking graphics of disembodied clapping hands to generate noise at totally random parts of the game, and even better graphics of tap-dancing baseballs. There was a “Vet of the Game” – a veteran and his family stood awkwardly in the public eye and received applause for embodying American-ness. There was racial stereotyping, when one of the Yankees’ Japanese players painfully taught a word to the rest of his team. There was someone selling Crackerjack. I practically had little statues of liberty circling my head! And the Yankees won, so not only did I go to a ballgame and legitimately enjoy it (non of that phony eyelash-fluttering, hair flipping sports fan fakery to win the attentions of some jock, thank you) but my city’s team (well, the better of my city’s teams) won!

In an aside – Liam told me that Derek Jeter leaves Yankee memorabilia for the women he sleeps with after the deed and got found out because he did it to the same woman twice. Isn’t that just the most amazingly, hilariously sleazy thing you’ve heard in a while?! I love America!

Other things that tell me I’m settling into life in the old USofA:

1) I ate a pizza that had southern fried chicken on it, and I didn’t think it was excessive. (I also finished it: fully adjusted to American portion [lack of]control.)

2) I converse freely with strangers in elevators about the weather and my plans for the day.

3) I do not obey the walk/don’t walk sign. (Plus, when I came back from my last trip home and the little walk man wasn’t green, I didn’t think I was colorblind.)

4) I no longer bother to re-correct the American auto-correct on my laptop (see above).

5) I instinctively know which way is uptown and which downtown when I leave the metro about 80% of the time.

6) People have stopped introducing themselves to me with “oh my god! you’re English.” What this means for my accent I’m afraid to ask.

7) I have a fully-fledged diner coffee addiction.

8) When a cab driver asks if I want to take the West Side Highway downtown, I actually know what he means.

9) A genuine New Yorker said she “liked my look.”

And, last but by absolutely no means least *drum roll please*

10) People ask me for directions and I CAN GIVE THEM ACCURATE DIRECTIONS.

So, if anyone reading this happens to have a handy visa lying around, can they please send it to me posthaste? I would quite like to stay.

Bye for now

xxx