Non-Golf Editorial

Things USA that Intrigue me

There is a madness afoot in this world, madness for which americans are both notorious and responsible. Here are some of those US madnesses, from the perspective of a simple New Zealander:

Randomly changing the spelling of english words.

Displaying dates ambiguously. Somebody’s 9/11 is somebody else’s 11/9.

Driving on the wrong side of the road.

Refusing to adopt the metric system & the Kyoto Protocol.

Still using 1-cent coins. How much does it cost to produce each penny?

Referring to petrol as ‘gas’ when it is clearly a liquid.

Pretentiously, yet illogically, pronouncing words such as herb or homage with a silent ‘h’.

Believing that cheese, a substance according to an american label I once read  ‘contains at least 29% real cheese’, is a bona fide condiment.

Making tipping an important source of income and tax evasion, thus altering the mindsets and behaviours of entire service industries eg waiters & waitresses – to the detriment of their customers!

Claiming 73% of the American population is Christian while millions of them utter the religious profanity ‘Oh, my God’ every day.

The insincerity and ennui of relentlessly hearing ‘have a nice day’ when most persons that utter it clearly don’t care what type of day I’m going to have.

Referring to a car boot as a trunk when a trunk is a suitcase, part of a body or part of a tree. And what’s this ‘hood’ crap? It’s called a bonnet! A hood is a head covering, like a bonnet is! Or a hood may be a neighbourhood or a criminal.

See, it’s complicated enough without going further and changing the spelling of words such as: organise, favourite or haemorrhage. And, if you’re going to adopt this nutty phonetic spelling mode, why don’t you do it across the board so you’d have a Starz & Stripes? You put those damned Z’s everywhere else! How about Yunited Staytz?

Somewhat grandiosely, and mistakenly, pronouncing the word fillet (fill-it) as (fillay). Filet (fillay) is a French word. Duh.

Driving me crazy with attempted upselling! If I had wanted fries with that I’d have asked, dumbo, so don’t insult my intelligence by giving me a canned questionnaire via a tinny McDonalds drive-thru (sic) speaker. And, incidentally, they’re chips, not fries! There’s no such noun as fries; it’s a verb! And since the parent is McDonalds the burger should be a Big Mc (big mick) not a big mac! And a hamburger with no ham, what’s going on there? It’s a beefburger for Christ’s sake!

And stop the racial stereotyping! All Irish are not drunks; I know a girl in Derry who isn’t! All Latinos aren’t illegal immigrants! All Italians aren’t connected to organised (not organized!) crime! Not all Native Americans like to gamble! Not all persons from the Middle East hate the USA! Not all African American men have huge cocks (dicks)! And not all Asians are good at maths. Yes maths!

So stop saying ‘do the math’. The correct abbreviation of mathematics is ‘maths’.

Fortuitously, the majority of americans will not travel overseas as less than half have passports. However, when you do, here is a suggestion: turn the volume down! Believe me, nobody in the vicinity is interested in what you have to say, including the unavailability of your favourite (not favorite!) snack or drink. And here’s a tip – when that French, Chinese or Croatian guy doesn’t understand you, speaking even more loudly to him won’t break down the language barrier!

By way of background, the genesis of this article lies 30 years in my past. I was walking near the Gare du Nord in Paris early one morning and met a clearly upset, middle-aged, american couple emerging from a typical cafe in a state of severe agitation. Recognising (not recognizing!) a Yankees cap, I asked in english whether I could help.

They were happy to speak with me, no doubt a welcome break from trying to make themselves understood to an unsympathetic French waiter! Turned out they’d been trying, unsuccessfully, to get some waffles and maple syrup for breakfast.

In the course of that very funny, at least to me, conversation the wife said, “Why don’t these goddamned people speak american?” The husband later added, “If it weren’t for the USA these frogs would be speakin’ German; they should be gettin’ down and kissin’ my goddamned boots.”

While I don’t doubt that the wife believed ‘american’ to be a language nor the veracity of the husband’s historical perspective on World War 2, this was nonetheless an intriguing insight into the mindset of the first american tourists I’d ever met.

Well, that’s enough america-bashing for today; remember I love you guys & gals; England’s next in my gunsights; keep an eye out! Looking forward to getting up some Swiss noses, too, which I seemed to manage on a daily basis whenever in their country!

© Copyright Mike J Miller:  16 January 2012