I got ICE in England and I made a Fabulous Frenchmen fall over

This might have to be my last post about the ICE issue because I actually got some. This is certainly my first story about making fun of a Fabulous Frenchie.

So I was at a pizza place the other day for lunch and, as usual, my kids and I made fools of ourselves. We were eating foods and quizzing each other on times tables and then I knocked Little Stormbringer’s drink over and we all got wet. Good times.

We like to play a little game when we go to restaurants. It is called “How Many Euro-Cubes Will We Get”. So when they deliver our drinks we shout: ‘Two Euro-cubes! One Euro-cube! No Euro-cubes!’ depending on what we have. Usually the inefficient Brit that has brought us our drinks has wandered off by this point.

This time the Brit was still near by. He was confused. I explained about the ice issue. (see here, and here if you haven’t already)

“Oh, you see, in America, they fill the glass with ICE first, then put the drink on top. We always count our euro-cubes because it is funny that there is no ICE here. ha.ha.”(I’m not socially awkward at all. nope.)

Then he smiled and said ” I will get you some ICE!” I have heard this before, people.  This never ends with ICE. It ends with four euro-cubes of ICE. I let the silly Brit go and get me some ‘ICE’. The kids and I laughed, knowingly. Then this motherfucker got me some GOT’DAM ICE. I could not believe my eyes! A whole glass! A whole glass filled to the top with Euro-cubes! It was unbelievable! I took a fucking picture of the glass and then one of the Brit next to the glass of ICE. He was a bit confused, I think, but maybe hoping for the first tip of his life from the silly Americans. (he got one)

I was overjoyed, but now I am a bit sad that I can no longer say that there is no ICE here. Oh well. We got ICE in England. It only took me five years.

When I was on holiday in The North we went to a french restaurant. Our waiter was very French and pretty Fabulous. Terrific. We are going to get some super service here, right? (no, i did not get a single euro-cube, but who puts euro-cubes in champagne? Oh, just me? OK. )

Manboy got an ‘A’ in french and I did some in high-school. Oh wait, I slept through that. Manboy, however, can speak it and did all of the ordering. I do not attempt to pronounce ‘fougasse a l’ail’ or ‘moules mariniers’ and do not get me started on the ‘frites’. Frenchie became all snooty and sniffy about Manboy’s pronunciation. I do believe he came to regret this.

‘Shambolic’ does not come close to describing the experience that we had that evening. If this meal had happened in America, not only would it have been ‘comped’ (free for my UK boos) but we would have had vouchers for our next meal, a massage and at least one bottle of champagne sprinkled lightly with unicorn tears. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Frenchie only managed to order some of our food, so the first course was a mix of one drink, one starter, a bit of one main and something we did not even order. None of it was cooked properly. None of it came with the right sauce, no one got a complete meal and I think the salt was in the pepper grinder.

Frenchie-Fabulous was beside himself. He was flapping his fabulous hands and being all french and wailing about how ‘zis is no szupposed to be like zis! I will get yoo a free bev-er-aj! Please wait a momenz!’

Then on his seventh trip to the kitchens on his useless mission to actually bring us the food that we had ordered, in the right order, and OMG actually bring us beverages, he had his literal downfall.

We had done the unthinkable and brought our souvenir shopping with us to dinner and placed it neatly at out feet while dining. Flapping Fabulous Frenchie managed to hook one of his feet around one of our bags and launched himself into the air and onto the ground. I would like to say that we didn’t laugh at him. I would like to say that my kids totally did not snort into their milk and shout ‘Sacre Bleu! LOL!’

The sound that came out of Manboy at this point made me laugh so hard that I pulled several muscles. I think that it was the most evil, malevolent laugh that I have ever heard. It was at an almost comic-book-villain level. Totally a well deserved laugh on our part. I think our waiter went out-the-back and had a quiet, private cry.

So when we turned up for dinner again two days later, Frenchie-boo spotted us and singled us out. He wanted to redeem himself. He wanted to give us decent food and service. He wanted us to have a Dining Experience.  He did actually manage that last one. A Dining Experience was had.

We had booked the kids in for an activity that evening. (Centerparcs, I love you,man!) I was going to have dinner, alone with my husband, for the first time in almost a year. So Excited! Ordered a bottle of champagne. Happy days!

What followed was chaotic, disorganized, and mismanaged. I actually had to point to my empty glass and then gesture to the bar where our beverages were waiting. I ordered a rare steak and got one well done. (Gross!! you know that shit got sent right back to kitchen for reals) We ordered food that never came. We ordered drinks that never came. I had to have Manboy steal a salt grinder from another table. All of this is true and I cannot type all of the things that went wrong because there is not enough blog space in all of the world to hold the tale of how genuinely fucked-up-the-eyeball this meal was.

We ordered in the standard way:

1) Order drinks then read menu

2) Order starters and mains (appetizers and entrees in American)

3) Drink drinks and wait for first course

So what do you think should happen when you follow these three simple steps? Would you expect to get drinks, then starters, then more drinks perhaps, then your main course? That is kind of what I expected to happen. After all, our-man-Frenchie was on the job and ‘determainez to gets zis rvight!’ Nope. None of that happened.

The good news is that we were having so much fun on holiday that none of this made us even slightly annoyed. Had this happened to me at any other time or place I would have set fire to the tablecloth and shot a hole through the bill. However, this was somehow entertaining and made us just giggle and shake our heads in amusement. And poor Flappy-Frenchie even got a tip. Hilarious. Maybe we should drink champagne more often.

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How to make nice and be Friends with the British

I had an email from a reader expressing her frustration at being an American expat. I was thrilled and touched, of course, so I emailed her back. She had questions. She was also a bit confused about not having made any friends in the UK yet.

But she is from the Midwest like me, and, like me,  she Is So Friendly.

Brits, are you seeing the huge problem here?

I didn’t when I moved here. I was Super Fantastic and Friendly All Of The Time! Why didn’t they want to talk to me? Why did they seem to visibly shrink when I greeted them? Why didn’t they want a hug for Christ’s sake!

Now, clearly this girl isn’t as bad as I was. I was bad.

I would go on the dreaded school run and try and..ya know…talk to people. Introduce myself, ask them about their kids, ask about their lives, tell them about mine. This is how I had spent my entire life in the US interacting with other humans.

This is not how you interact as an American ‘Off the Boat’ and trying to make friends in the UK. Not if you want friends, that is.

Over several years of reading Expat blogs from both sides of the pond, experimenting with British-life-forms and talking to my husband and his circle of friends, I came up with the following fool-proof method of ‘cracking the ice’ in the UK.

Mind, this takes 6-8 months not minutes. (in the US it might not be even that many minutes!)

Here’s the tip:
The first six months of ‘knowing’ someone, The Weather is the only acceptable subject for you to talk about. 
Pro Tip: The Brits LURVE hearing about how awesome we (Americans) find the weather here. 
example: 
Scene: School Run/Bus Stop/Neighbours/delivery guy
“Wow, it is a bit rainy/sunny/cloudy/windy today! (smile)”
Then the brit grumbles or agrees
“sure was better/worse/same yesterday! Hope it is better/same tomorrow!” (smile)
Brit grumbles or agrees
 
 After you have known them for a bit,  add on the following;
 
“But, I  think the UK has the best weather in the world! I love it here! Really, I would never leave! “(grin)
They will then stare at you, trying to decide if an American is smart enough to be taking the piss. They might even raise an Eyebrow and say…Really?
Then you say
“yeah my mum has 3 feet of snow/tornadoes/hail/heatwave/mosquitoes/sharp shower of frogs!” (basic midwest suck-weather)
 
 
then just shrug and say, yeah, best weather in the world. (no exclamation. this is important.) (smile)
You may find that they even talk to YOU next time!
The thing is, the British ARE friendly. You won’t find better friends. They are extremely loyal, forgiving, funny and inclusive. Once you find yourself inside their bubble and under their wing, you will not be disappointed. You will feel included in ways that you never thought that you could.
Don’t give up if you are an Expat anywhere. Just keep trying, but get as much advice as you can. After 5 years here I have found my best-est friend evar and I am truly blessed.
As always, feel free to leave your experiences in the comments, or just to me. Ask me anything.  I get it, I really do.

I’m back, and I am Never Leaving the UK again. (the top seven things I hate about living in the US)

I just spent three months in America. I am here to tell you that I am never going back. Holy Crap, America! You suck even more than you did when I left! Get your shit together! Here are my top seven reasons that living in the US is awful and impossible.

GUNS

They are everywhere. All of the time. NO REALLY. I stayed in a super-posh suburb of D-town and still…everywhere. Boom, boom, crack, boom, bang! If you are not hearing gunshots you are hearing sirens. It is a mess. Even the kids have them. I had to call my children inside because…brace yourselves…one of the kids had A GUN on THE TRAMPOLINE that my kids were playing on. Read that again.

NEWS

There isn’t any. You get local news, and I kinda miss that, but actual news?  There is none. I made a joke about PSY meeting Ban Ki Moon and not one soul had any idea. “ya’ know? he is, like…in   charge    of    the UN…no? no. ok. ”  People in America are just ignorant about the world. And they don’t wanna be. They want to know. But they do not get to. It is stupid. (Pay your License fee and shut up Brits!)

SCHOOLS

My kids got to go to an American school for three months. I think they came out dumber than when they went in. NO REALLY. My kids were  at least two full grades above in everything. They delighted the teachers. My kids were horrified by the way that the students and the teachers acted. So was I. American schools=full of Assclowns. I shit you not.

POLITICS

Nah. No Sir and No Ma’am. I was in the US for the election and I am here to testify that the whole thing is level-crazy. The only way I was able to deal was to stay off facebook and hide under a box’o’wine and/or a table. You have no idea. Give me anyone from Eton to vote for and i am FINE. I am actually amazed that only a few people were killed during that mess.

TRANSPORTATION

You can go Nowhere in the US on foot. I mean this. The first month that I was there I tried to walk to the shops. I gave it up for several reasons. There are no pavements/sidewalks. You must walk on a gravel shoulder and hope to live. One of my kids was sick at school and I was powerless to go and get her because the silly mile walk was impossible. I had to wait for someone to drive me. Not just that one time but every time that i wanted to go anywhere.  (for three months)

NATIONALISM

While I am happy that my kids know all of the “Fifty Nifty United States” and the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful and This Land is Our land and The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Pledge of Allegiance…Jesus, you guys! America has taken Nationalism and ratched it the fuck up to 11. I was embarrassed several times. I am American and I grew up there and I was still embarrassed by it. WOW.

STRANGER DANGER

I used to think my mum was a bit crazy when she freaked out when my children were not in my sight or within my reach. Not anymore. In the US kids go missing all the time. Every day, and not just missing, not just runaways or parental disputes. JUST GONE. Every damn day. I am not exaggerating. America has a BIG problem with kids ‘going missing’. In the UK my kids can walk down the block with a reasonable expectation of getting home safely. Not in the US.

I am going to write about all of the things that I love about living in The States. I am going to expand on many of these topics. I still love you America! I had to get some of these things out because I am so glad to be home in the UK.

I promise not to ever leave the UK again, and I promise that I will bring the funny back to my posts soon!

Got anything to tell me about living in the US or the UK? Would you choose differently than I did? Tell me what you think.

Living in a Big Old City

I can not get this out of my head. Because I am. Living, and for sure in a Big Old City. History cannot escape you in the UK. 

I do not talk about what we left behind in America. Not just now. We left it all behind us. But when i hear Little Stormbringer sing “someday, I’ll be, living in a big ol’city” I know that we have made it. We are Here. I know that this is not the point of the song. But we did it, we made it, and now we are here, safe, in this big old city.

It might not be ‘big’ as you would think of an american city. But it is old. So old. Dumnonii  is an old place. You can dig three feet down in your garden and uncover a hord of Roman coins kinda old. No, i take it back, it is only two feet down that you have to dig. And then you find an old walled fortress. I am not joking.

This is very soothing. When I try to explain this feeling to my British friends they just chuckle nervously.  This attitude must come from the 3000 years that they have been trying to defend this tiny island. ok, probably 30,000 but STILL…

There is a magical part of living here, you KNOW that you are part of something bigger and better. Something old. Something wise and wonderful. Something more.

I am an American through and through, but i do not ever want to leave this big old city.

Defrost the Freezer Rooney!

Yep, it is that time again.  That time for me to Defrost the Freezer and yell the three words Come On England!

(yes, we had the refrigerator, but that is so different, ahem)

I try and just let the rules of football come to me by watching. I only ask questions if i am so completely fluxomed that it will ruin the game for me if i don’t know. This is working out for me pretty well as I can now tell the ‘shape’ of the teams.

Football fans will see this as not a ‘shape’ but as 2-4, 2-2. 4-6….ok, i dont know… but i see SHAPES OK? I can see the maths of the game and i can see why it is called (get this Americans!) The Beautiful Game.

I am willing to bet, however that Colleen Rooney is not defrosting her freezer today. I’ll be willing to bet that every house-maid in the UK is getting the laundry either in or out this morning as we either have SUN or RAIN…well mostly rain…

Me? well i will be cleaning up one bird and two mice (THANKS CATS), looking after my poorly family. That means they are sick…uh…in the UK term and in the US? uh..lets just say I WILL HAVE a lot of things to clean. ahem.

Rooney……defrost your freezer. The Germans are coming.

The ‘Special Relationship’ explained (no sub-titles required)

So I have been asked recently to explain the weird thing that British people do, when they put down Americans. I think I can help make some sense of this.

All of the stereotypes! “yea! WOO! nice monocle dude! ” (sigh)

Your average american on the street loves ‘The English’ with extra loves. They cannot understand why this is not enthusiastically reciprocated. Allow me to shed some light on this.

America, to the Brits, is like a 13-year-old daughter. Annoying, pompous, silly, and so totally convinced that they are cooler than everyone. (yes, i know we are, but still…) I am not sure if Americans are aware of this but let me tell you a little secret…they think that…they blame us for…they feel that it is America’s  FAULT that they no longer have an empire.

Yes, you may say, but we DID win those 2 wars for them! Uh, yeah we did, but they seem to take offense at this, and we DID kinda make them give up the odd country or so…and pay us for the privilege of saving their dumb asses from Germany TWICE, but…DO NOT SAY ANY OF THE ABOVE TO ANYONE IN THE UK EVER.

Manboy would like to point out that he agrees with Al Murray, Britain is the undefeated WW champions, because if you are not in it from the start, you’re not in it at all. (what-ever)

Also, America likes to make fun of the ‘English’ whenever possible as well. No, we do. Let me give you an example from the ever-loving-hell that is the Disney Channel. Said about the one Brit kid in the ‘american-high-school-laugh-track-show’ : “Cricket? wicket? let’s tell him where to stick it!” Um…..

Also, isn’t it just great to have every villain ever be British? Yeah, we do that too.

So it isn’t fair to think that the Brits are all hating on the US. Americans do it right back. I think that it is best to think of the two countries like siblings. The UK is the sensible older brother, the US is the annoying little sister. We love each other, but we show it by punching and tickling and the-pulling-of-the-pigtails.

THAT is our special relationship.

Jubilee with Squee! (I never)

Well, it’s the last day of the Diamond Jubilee and I am glad because I do not think I can handle any more British goodness. Last night was amazing. I have no words. THAT concert? So incredible. I think even the land snail was moved to tears. Tears that had nothing to do with the wee dram of Jubilee beer that he had.

And it was the best day that the kids have had so far as well. They were freeking thefuckout during the concert. Will.i.am, i think you must have been adopted by some freekish Brit parents because i have no idea where the fuck you came from all of a sudden no clue how you got so lucky. I wet myself during the Tom Jones bit. Robbie must have been kept in a cage like a bated bear to be able to pull that shit off. I…I…did you see some of that fantastic-ness guys? Can you hulla-hoop for 4 minutes while singing when you are near a gotdamb pensioner? Dame Elton? You dressed down for the occasion but you made me cry. Sir Paul? I do not even have words for the holy-deliciuosness that you made happen.

I have seen some things, I have seen some concerts. Some of them on 20 hits of acid, but I HAVE NEVER experienced anything like THAT.

When HRH The Queen walked out wearing a black over-coat we GOT FUCKING RELIGION REAL QUICK. Please join us all, and pray to whatever gods that you can think of, for the speedy recovery of The Duke of Edinburgh. 

What really touches me about all this, as an American, is how patriotic everyone is. It’s like everyone has been holding their breath since WW2 and suddenly gave a collective UNION FLAG EXHALE WITH ADDED SQUEE! It is simply amazing. America has three days every year when we do this all together, but it just is not done here. For four days, everyone gets to be PROUD and WAVE FLAGS and….it’s like…Memorial Day mixed with the fourth of july with added x-mas, new years eve, and 9/11. I wish  that I had the words to explain it properly.

I hope we get to do it again in ten more years.

Mice in my Ukulele, Americans are (not) stupid, JUBILEE!!!!!!

These three things have something in common, I promise.

You know how cats think that a Closed Door is the entrance to Narnia? Well Manboy and I thought it was adorable that Sharp kitty thought that Narnia was inside a ukulele. For a half an hour. Then I went to get another Jubilee Beer and saw her face. “WHAT is IN there?” I said, shaking it. meeeeeee said a little mouse.  The mouse was let go safely away from the doom cats. Hopefully Camalot the mousie will be as lucky as the horse that I failed to bet on today.

Yeah, also I cannot figure out what side I am on, being Mid-Atlantic and everything. I am both American and British.

I cannot rembemer the words to God Save The Queen, because it is so mixed up in my head. In America, I know that i knew the  American words to this song. Here, I sing a mixture that i mumble to the tune of ‘England the Star-Spangled-Save Our Glorious Queen’. I know that none of this is right. I still sing it better than Wayne Rooney.

Here is where I get REALLY conflicted though. The Brits do not seem to be able to enjoy any major event without putting Americans down in some small way. I know that this is hurtful and inexplicible to my friends in the US who would no more do this than burn our own flag while wearing it. But it is SO TEMPTING.

I saw a video of an American asking “Why did they build Windsor Castle so close to Heath-row Airport?” And I wanted to cry. Take a minute.

THE JUBILEE IS SO AWESOME ALREADY THAT I HAVE BEEN SNIFFY ALL DAY. Every time I see the Queen i start tearing up and whimpering the only words that I know to her song. I feel so very lucky to be here for this you guys. And this is only the first day. Everyone here has turned friendly and happy and there are flags out and everything! It is AMAZING!

I think everyone is enjoying this weekend and celebrating. I hope you are too.  God Save our Glorious Queen! 

This is Ridiculous Now, England! (with love)

You guys, I have a bit of bitching to do. I am annoyed with the UK today for a few reasons.  I am not even sure where to start, no, actually, I have a pretty good idea. This is me right now:

Yeah, this sucks. Observe all this glory right here.

I am not  even sure if they sell fly-swatters here. I think the bugs are just coming in to escape the heat. It is rapidly cooling off, thank the gods, but it has been proper Michigan Hot here for 2 days. (I cannot even have ICE, hence this post) I did NOT come to England to be hot, people. I came for the clouds. I want them back.

And the other problem is that we have been here for 3 summers now. We are losing our mid-western glow and becoming translucent like the rest of the pasty Brits. This is fine, except now we burn if a sunbeam touches our pale, fragile skin. I can remember laughing at the teachers saying that my kids would need sun-cream for 15 minutes on the playground. In the spring shade.  “No, I swear that they do NOT! Promise!” OK, we do now. Dammit.

Due to this terrific weather, I figured that today would be a good day to defrost the freezer. That’s correct, you heard me right. Defrost.The.Freezer. In 2012, in England, people still do this. I swear that I am not making this up. The last person in my family to have to defrost a freezer was my great-grandmother. In the 1950’s. I certainly have no memory of anyone doing such a thing in my childhood. It isn’t a chore that I particularly dislike, I just find it backwards and surreal. I realize the irony in not having any ice, but a freezer full at the same time. I try to wear heals, rollers, and an apron while de-frosting. It helps me deal.

Upon reflection, though, I have a number of things that are making me thrilled that I live here. This afternoon I took The White Rose to the doctor. They were great, and of course it was free. Then they gave us 7 hundred prescriptions and those were free as well. I cannot express how awesome this is. I would not have been able to afford even one of those scripts. I had the most awesome health ins in america (i mean that) and it never touched the care that i receive in the UK.

I have to say it. I am so freaking thrilled about the Diamond Jubilee. OMG YOU GUYS! SO COOL! ( I promise more to follow on this!)

It not only evens out, it makes me feel bad about bitching. I love it here, I cannot wait until I get my shiny UK passport. Thanks for being my punching bag, England. I love you far too much. Now give me my clouds back.

I give up England, you win! Uncle! Uncle!

I wrote this post a while back and included a paragraph about the total lack of weather here. This was a huge mistake.

I should know this by now. It only snows once every thirty years or so in the South West, but because I kept saying that, there has been more snow here than in the 50 years previous. I reversed that trend this year, and it did not snow.

Yep, I really do control the weather in the UK. I guess this is my superpower. Sorry England!

This is great until I get all asshole about it and start laughing at the UK’s lack of weather. Then the gods punish me and everyone else who has the misfortune to live here. It has gotten so bad that the other mums on the school run automatically blame me when weather happens. I was met today TWICE with the greeting: “this is your fault, isn’t it”. Scowling abounds.

So, since that post we have much weather. It hailed. Frogs fell from the sky. We are having a week of steady rainstorms.

I have been asked (not too politely) to please recant. OK OK There Is Weather Here!! Dammit.