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Monday, July 2, 2012

Spotting the Yank

by Topher Clark (bio)

Cheerio from London, gents. I've been here for a month, which is why I can say things like "cheerio" and "gents." I'm here with my UVU students for a month long study abroad program; this is my seventh consecutive year doing it. So I know some London! I also spent a year living nearby when I was in graduate school, which qualifies me to discuss my topic today: how to spot an American in London.

The old adage about the noisy, ugly American is actually untrue. I don't run across that many. I look for fanny packs and ball caps and people rasping "OMG" and complaining about customer service and all the other tell-tale signs, but you just don't see these people. I've heard they exist, but I don't know where. Maybe they are all at Madame Toussauds or something? I see them in Paris. All the time. But London? Not really.

So who are the Americans I can spot? Here are five examples:

1. You are some kind of vague business guy here for a few days on business. You wear a suit. You talk on your cell phone. Considering cell coverage is expensive here, you are either billing it to your vague business back in the states or totally faking that call. You go everywhere in a taxi, because you are secretly afraid of public transport.

2. You are a chatty, short-ish college girl who loves Musical Theatre and is here on a semester abroad. Mostly you have seen Wicked and Ghost and Chicago. You drank alcohol one time on Westminster Bridge with some Italian guy you met on the tube. You wear a lot of scarves and you are from somewhere on the east coast.

3. You are a junior high school teacher who has come over with some of your lady friends to see Big Ben. You heard the Olympics were coming and you gotta get a piece of that! Even though the Olympics don't start until next month. You love Will and Kate and like to go to the British Museum and talk about the Rosetta Stone.

4. You are an LA hipster, who got sick of the fact that you looked like everyone else in LA. So you came to London. And you looked like everybody here, too.

5. You are a bald, almost forty professor who writes snarky things about other Americans, puts them on a blog, and then worries about who he's going to offend and probably won't look at the comments.

I'll try to think of some more. But for real, those are the main five.

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