I go through life in America trying to simply avoid comment on most of the non-sequiturs I perceive around me. I don’t want every conversation to be a discussion of cultural differences or a drawn-out explanation that Oxford and Cambridge are not, in fact, concurrent areas of London.
Fortunately, my education doesn’t suffer from this approach, as my housemates are quick to inform me when I’m doing something wrong (always) and tell me the correct, American way of doing things. If I (unwisely) disagree with their conclusion, we take a vote in which I lose 2:1 and we resolve on the reliable “fuck you this is America.” It’s a fantastically effective approach to teaching.
Let’s see an example.
One early morning many months ago, as I stumbled to work with a hangover, I decided to stop off and get some breakfast. Being a particularly bad hangover, I decided that pancakes wouldn’t suffice, and aimed for a comforting bacon sandwich. Lo and behold, I soon found myself outside a purveyor of breakfast sandwiches. Not bothering to consult the menu to find the price of the most basic staple of such a shop, I simply approached the counter and ordered.
Can I get a bacon sandwich please?
Clearly I’d mumbled my first audible words of the day.
A bacon sandwich please.
Please. Just ketchup.
I think I say please more than Americans are used to.
You want a bacon and egg sandwich?
No, just bacon.
You want anything in it?
…bacon. And ketchup.
You want a bacon and egg sandwich with no egg, untoasted, extra ketchup?
Finally, we’d gotten somewhere; albeit via a rather circuitous route, but with the imminent prospect of a bacon sandwich on the horizon, I wasn’t going to complain. A look of dismay and confusion from everyone in the vicinity later, I took my bacon sandwich (poor quality, no accompanying tea) and left, promptly forgetting the matter.
Fast forwarding past the ice and snow of that day to this sunny morning, I stood at the kitchen counter and kindly asked if the girls would like a bacon sandwich, as I was making one.
…you mean like, a B.L.T.?
I shook my head, somewhat in negation, but mostly in resignation: I could see from the looks in their eyes that this was one of those occasions I’d done something terribly, terribly wrong and needed to be educated.
A breakfast sandwich, I learned, is what I – in a euphoria of stupidity – have always called a McDonald’s breakfast. At the outer edges sit an English muffin, a biscuit (not to be confused with a tasty digestive) or a hard roll.
Within is generally to be found sausage (not to be confused with a sausage) or bacon (not to be confused with Danish bacon, which is known as Canadian bacon here,) cheese (seriously) and an egg (the egg’s just an egg.)
Contrast this with my traditional ideal of Danish bacon sitting between two slices of fresh white or – joy of joys – within a bap, topped with ketchup and atop a thin layer of butter, and you’ll see quite how different the two dishes are.
Or, in the words of the girls: “that’s disgusting, all your food is disgusting, you’re making me never want to live in London which I’ve wanted to do my entire life.”