Saturday, September 09, 2006

You may not know this, but... 

After a very long break in regular posting, this blog has relocated from England to Princeton, New Jersey, and its author is now officially an international graduate student. In my capacity as such, I am being taught about American culture. So today I received the answer to that burning question, "Who is an American?", with a handy checklist of points.

Americans, apparently, are characterised by their individualism, their punctuality(!), their emphasis on "doing rather than being" (we may go down the pub to meet people; they go hiking), their egalitarianism, the prominent role they give to women, and their friendliness and openness. The last bit came with a warning - Americans may say hello and ask you how you are, but you should not mistake this for a deep friendship.

Thus my personal crusade in the Global War on Terror now comes with a handy guide for spotting those un-/anti-American bastards who are ruining it for the rest of us. Being late for a meeting always seemed so innocent before, but now I know better. No real American would ever do that.

Even better, I can now make "American friendships". This is, of course, another dangerous area, full of pitfalls which could leave me isolated for years to come. My future American friends will apparently be put off if I begin on any topic other than the traffic or the weather - these are the safe subjects. If my new American buddy is amenable, I may, after a suitable period of time, begin discussing common interests and so on, but anything more personal than that will come only very gradually. So, for instance, the conversation I had this evening which touched on the sexuality of tree-hugging (tree-humping) will probably render me a social outcast for the remainder of my time here. (Actually, that may be fair enough...)

And, armed with all this useful information, I continue on into the unknown...

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