After I went on a hunt to find a pie tin to make an apple pie from scratch and got hit with a craving for a proper cheeseburger, I realized that the little things that make me feel American aren’t always what you’d expect.
Red cups: I’ve been asked quite a few times if Americans really drink out of red cups, just like in the movies. Duh. You don’t put keg beer in crystal. American movies might be a bit overdone, but they don’t lie: I’ve been to a toga party, I have cheerleader friends, my life once revolved around Friday night high school football games. And yes, I’ve had plenty a beer in a red cup.
Flash those pearly whites: Travel anywhere in the world: I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a culture with straighter and whiter teeth. I floss every day, wear a retainer every night, whiten once a year and go to the dentist every six months. Good teeth is a top non-negotiable among my friends when discussing potential partners. The teeth in Australia aren’t bad, but when my coworker or roommate casually mentions that they can’t remember the last time they went to the dentist, I freak out just a bit. OK, a lot.
Where’d you go to school?: I once heard that the English are pigeonholed by their accent, Australians by where they’re from and Americans by where they went to school. I love reminiscing about beer pong and keg parties with fellow Americans–and judging people a bit on their alma mater. Mostly, I just love boasting about California State University, Chico and its amazing college town atmosphere. OK, and its now-ancient ranking as Playboy top party school.
Excuse me, what did you say?: Americans have a tough time understanding accented English, whether it’s British, Australian, Irish or South African. I blame this on Hollywood: America simply isn’t exposed to other accents, while American movies (and American accents) are exported all over the world. I was shocked to see subtitles on previews for an Irish film while I was home–they sure as heck don’t get subtitles on American blockbusters in Dublin! Be patient with us and our ungracious “what?’s”–“pardon” just doesn’t sound as elegant coming from a Yank.
Country music: Country music is one of those things that’s only popular in America–understandable, considering just how much it talks about down-home American country culture. I’m a sucker for a Southern twang and a line-danceable beat–and gorgeous country crooners, like Luke Bryan (who we met when he played in Chico!).
How much do you love Obama?: Everyone’s got an opinion on American politics–my cab driver in Sydney told me he would take a bullet for Ron Paul–while Americans simply aren’t exposed to foreign politics in the same way. I hear about America on the news in Australia every single day, whether it’s about politics, a crime wave or celebrity gossip. How often does Australia get mentioned on American news–or any other country that America doesn’t have a direct interest in? We’re remarkably self-centered, but an object of the rest of the world’s attention.
What unexpected things remind you of America?