Sunday, August 29, 2010

No Worries, No Problem

It has been two weeks since taking the ex-pat plunge and I couldn't be happier. Perhaps because I speak the language (more or less) or because of my years spent watching Mr. Belvedere but I feel right at home among the English. That being said, there are, of course, the occasional cultural differences that tend to crop up. For example, I've observed that the English don't use the term, "You're welcome." Instead they prefer the more casual, "No worries," or even the more casual, "Sure." It can take one aback at first but when you stop and consider that all pleasantries are just that, pleasantries, and as such somewhat frivolous, there is something to be admired about this straightforwardness. Whatever there is to admire in their direct manner of verbal communication is, however, negated by the cryptic designs of their washing machines.

My washer, or as I like to call her "Candy" (that is actually the name of the model, Candy Aquamatic 1000T) is the most complicated machine known to man. I'd like to tell you that what she lacks in convenience she makes up in efficiency but that would be a "massive" (the Brits use this word like Rhode Islanders use "wicked") lie. Candy is the R2D2 of washing machines, the runt of the litter. Apparently her makers (ancient Druids) decided to forgo the traditional directions and emblems that one typically finds on machines of her make, in favor of more creative pictograms, many of which resemble the Lucky Charm's marshmallows.
Rainbows for your coloreds, hearts for delicates, and blue diamonds for the clothes that you wore in 1975 but are looking to phase out [1]. When I moved to London someone here gave me what I initially thought was peculiar advice, "Think of it as a third world country and you'll avoid disappointment." Staring at Candy, I now understand. In fact, now that I think of it, why is it that my shower goes cold after 10 minutes? Do the Brits not rinse, lather, repeat? And why is it that I can't even fit Hervè Villechaize's remains into my fridge? And why is Marmaduke still playing in movie theaters (theatres) here? Wouldn't the English have enough sense to 'just pass' on that one after having already seen the intellectual damage it has caused? And why is it that I can't have a normal staircase instead of the twisting, metallic, staircase of death that I currently have? Do the Brits wish to deter midnight snacking from aforemetioned Hervè Villechaize-sized fridges? Is that how they stay so slim? And why is that I have to pay 26 pounds a month in order to obtain a "license" to watch T.V. (with no cable)? I don't even need a license to make another human being, nevermind to watch the BBC. And why is it... Why is it... Why is that I'm complaining?[2] I get to live in an amazingly culturally rich country that has, for centuries, been the home of kings and queens, poets and scholars, and for a brief time, Jim Henson.
No hot water you say?
No worries.

[1] Blue diamond marshmallows were replaced in the late 90's in favor of the more 21st century-looking Leprechaun hats.
[2] And why is it that I'm sounding more and more like a Sagat song from 1994? Man... FUNK DAT!

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