It is kind of complicated every time I meet an English person. They sound funny right away and I always try to guess where they’re from and I’m always wrong. I figure it’s got to be one of the former English colonies like South Africa, New Zealand, Austria, or even England itself, but I always pick wrong and the person is always mildly annoyed.
Then when they say they’re English I try to show that I’m a knowledgeable fellow and so I say, “Oh, really? What part?”
Then they get this look like “This bloke [that’s an English word meaning ‘fellow’] isn’t going to have a clue where my little corner of England is,” but they go ahead and tell me in order to be polite, somewhere like Leeds, or Glasgow, or Cardiff, or Dublin or one of the other major cities in England.
Of course I’m never sure where any of those places are so then they’re still trying to be polite and they’re like, “So have you ever been to the U.K.?” and I’m always like, “No,” and I explain how I’m not good with foreign languages and I’m always too embarrassed to ask them what’s the difference between the United Kingdom and Man United.
It’s also pretty awkward when I ask them what’s their favorite football team (that’s to show I know it’s not called “soccer” in England) because they kind of already know I don’t know anything about it and it’s probably the 400th time this conversation has happened this week, usually at the checkout stand or while buying some coffee, but most of the time I don’t tell them that I’m related to the queen.
However, one guy I sometimes ride with, Nancy, really can’t stand English people. “Fucking I hate ’em,” Nancy will sometimes say if an English dude shows up on a ride. Of course he tends to say that to anyone new, but he specializes in English people because the ones that hang out over here tend to be complete badasses on the bike and they drop him immediately, which he doesn’t much care for.
“Really? How come?” I asked him one day.
“Fucking arrogant bastards, that’s why.”
“Arrogant about what?”
“Fucking act like they invented the fucking language.”
“Well, didn’t they?” I asked.
That didn’t sit very well with Nancy. “They act like they fucking know everything,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said, “I kind of see where you’re coming from. But you know, they have a pretty badass tradition of being, you know, pretty smart.”
“Smart about what?” he snarled.
“Not that it’s a lot, but you know, Shakespeare, Dickens, the first novel, pretty much all the books worth reading in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries that weren’t written by Mark Twain, and I’m pretty sure they discovered DNA, oh, and the Rolling Stones.”
Nancy got livid. “The Rolling Stones? Those fuckers stole our music!”
“Fuck yeah! They just ripped off our American blues masters and commercialized it!” Nancy is super white.
“You mean the music of the black Americans who Elvis ripped off and commercialized?”
“Yeah!” he yelled.
“Seems to me that the English did what everyone else was doing on that score, they just did it better.”
“What the hell are you? Some English lover? I bet you drink tea.” About this time a group of riders pedaled by in the other direction.
“Man, that’s a pretty big group of wankers,” I said, trying to change the topic.
Nancy went ballistic. “Don’t you ever use that stupid fucking word around me again!” he screeched. “Do you even know what it means? It’s English talk for a jerk-off! It’s the worst thing a British person can say about someone! I hate that fucking word and now it’s everywhere because somebody on a stupid fucking moronic blog started using it like a cutesy word and now it’s wanker this and wanker that and wank the other and it makes me so sick I could kill someone! It’s like calling everyone ‘cum-face.’ You think that’s cute? Plus it’s English and it makes me fucking sick so for fuck’s sake don’t ever use that word again!”
Nancy’s veins from his excessive drinking had popped out all over his face and teeth and he was shivering from anti-imperialistic fervor. About this time Rodley pedaled up, as we had stopped at a red light so that Nancy could take his seizure pills. Rodley is the nicest guy you will ever meet. He put his foot down and smiled the friendliest smile. “Hey, wankers!” he said. “What’s up?”
I’m not sure what happened to Nancy because he got off his bike and began moaning, and a couple of English guys I know rolled by and they started explaining that the U.K. wasn’t a football (soccer) team. I hope Nancy is okay.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and learn about Man United versus the United Kingdom. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!