by one of the Brits
Friends at home ask us, "Whereabouts do you go to in America?"
"Florida," we answer.
"Must be great, where in Florida?"
"On the east coast," we say and leave it at that. We are deliberately vague. We don't want other Brits to know where Circle Bay is. They might want to come here.
"What's it like, where you live in America?" they persist. "What do you do? Would we fit in?"
So we try another tactic to put them off.
Oh, we say, we don't do much, just sit around, read and watch the awful American television, its all pretty boring.
Would you fit in? Well, maybe, we say, and we lie. Of course, you have to be old, and you have to be sober and dislike partying, go to bed early and not be the type that likes to eat out or socialise, play golf or go fishing, and perhaps be a little conservative in your outlook. It would help if you have had surgery to talk about when you are in the pool; be prepared to discuss President Trump and pretend you understand American politics - oh, and learn to drive on the wrong side of the road, that would definitely help. If you can do all that, well, you might be accepted, but it's a risk.
It would also be an advantage if you learn American, we tell them, but that can be a challenge. Americans think they speak English. They don’t. When talking about cars they use words like ‘hood’ when they mean bonnet, call the boot a ‘trunk,’ say things like, My daughter is learning math. They mean
mathematics. In the restaurant if you want chips make sure you ask for ‘french fries.’ (their chips are our crisps.) If you smoke, we say, please don't ask, "Would you like a fag?" The
reaction to such a friendly gesture may not be what you expect. If you want to buy biscuits at the supermarket look for 'cookies'. I am not on holiday here I'm on vacation. There are many more distortions but, we tell them, Americans havecontributed to our language. Added new words. "Wanna" for instance - well, it's quicker than saying or writing "I want to," isn't it? And why say or write, "I am going to," when “I'm gonna” will do?
Yes, we say, it takes dozens of visits over many years to learn the peculiarities of the American language and its not easy. The natives here really do think they speak English – it’s best to smile and go along with them and pretend you understand every word because good heavens, Americans are so generous and friendly and so welcoming and they mean well, and yes, we say when they keep on with their questions, Florida is great, the weather is wonderful – take the children to Disney World, visit the Kennedy Space Centre, go to The Keys.
But we don’t talk about Stuart, we never mention Circle Bay. Our little bit of paradise. I know this is selfish – but you should thank me, look what happened the last time an army of Brits invaded American soil.
I'm outta here, gotta go to the store.