I love Americans

I do love Americans. Many of my blog readers are American. I find Americans to be polite, well-educated and articulate. Apart from the rude, ignorant and incoherent ones, but that’s another story.

There are lots of reasons to like Americans. They used to be British for a start.

Americans have wonderful names like Brad, Hank, and Mary-Lou, and they come from places with quaint names like Minna-sota and Massa-choo-sits and Oak-la-homer.

Americans use strange words, like sidewalk and gasoline, and engage in peculiar activities, like gettin’ fixed and gettin’ gotten, phrases that seem to have no discernible meaning.

A lot of American words are ugly. Why do they replace beautiful European words like café with utilitarian equivalents like diner? Perhaps worst of all is the horrible mom word. Honestly, how could you love your children, if they called you mom?

It would be an easy mistake to imagine that Americans are illiterate oafs, but that would be quite wrong. They are simply misinformed in their use of the English language. It isn’t their fault, you understand. Many of them have never even travelled abroad. And yet their ancestors travelled such a long way across the ocean to get to America. Even on arrival in the new world, they were not content to crowd into the east coast cities, but quickly spread across the whole continent. How strange that the descendants of those early explorers think that a vacation in Disneyland is the most the world has to offer.

I admit that I don’t really understand America. Much of my knowledge of the country came from watching American TV while growing up in the 70s and 80s, so it may be wildly inaccurate. It was hard to put together a coherent image of the country from watching TV. There were so many different sides to the coin. There were the honest-to-goodness hard-working folk in The Waltons. The god-damn-it straight-talking no-nonsense John Wayne. The mono-syllabic morally-ambiguous world of Clint Eastwood. The affluent, cocky young Americans of Grease and Animal House. The easy money and morals of the Texan oil barons in Dallas. The sleazy, multi-cultural, crime-infested New York of Starsky and Hutch. The dangerously lost half-lives of Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy. The corruption of the Godfather. The youthful idealism (or slick stage management?) of JFK and Jacky. The insane yet charming voice of the flower power people of San Francisco. Just when you thought you had Americans pinned down, the focus would lurch again. How to make sense of it, other than to accept it all as part of a contradictory whole?

No wonder Americans don’t feel the need to travel. They have an entire universe within their own borders.

Despite all of their failings, Americans are smart. They invented the aeroplane (they call it the airplane, like it’s a plastic toy or something) and the google, and the all-night drive-thru burger diner. (They think they invented the computer, the jet engine and the iPhone too, but that was the Brits, you know.)

I am old enough to still find it mind-moggling that people from the other side of the Atlantic may read my words, and so if there are any Americans reading this blog, let me give you a big welcome! In fact, let me say, howdy pardner! Or whatever it is that Americans say.

58 responses to “I love Americans

  1. I’m an American and I don’t even understand a lot of my own people. They tend to hide away from the past, which facing would solve a multitude of problems, and diagnose away (excuse) their behavior. They refuse to move on from the past, while denying it exists (think the racism problems we have), drink and party way too much, and claim things that aren’t true on a political level. But then, again, some of it is just the human condition. We would all like to think we are somehow greater than another, whether religiously or ethnically, and tend to refuse the fact that we are no better or no worse.

    Granted, Americans have their own language, but it is our differences that sets us apart. Still, in our differences, we tend to be arrogant and domineering, which is why we are the hated country. Our corporate leaders tend to see only in profit and loss, all the while destroying our planet and all peace and quiet. Our leadership is so divided on the stupidest things it isn’t funny, and the people are blind to the propaganda used to control them.

    All in all, Americans are nearly the same as any other, even though we tend to have a problem admitting it. I guess it comes from our incessant need to prove that we are, indeed, a free people. Yes, we can be rude, but we have found that many other peoples can be just as rude, even when we are being polite. We are a bit stand-offish, which gets us into a multitude of troubles, overbearing, and idiotic at times. But isn’t that all people?

    • You are right. These things are true of all people, and I am just having a little fun here. America has given the world a lot, and Americans should be proud of their achievements.

  2. An English professor in college told me that over the past two hundred years, American English has seen less vocabulary and grammar change than British English. Both dialects of English have changed over time, but American English is supposedly a little bit closer to the English of King George III than modern British English is.

  3. Have you been to Disneyland? It’s the happiest place on earth!
    I appreciate that you find it “mind boggling” that Americans read your blog…
    As far as the traveling abroad goes- it’s on my list. I think one reason that we struggle with that is that there is so much to see and do here. There are so many major cities that I still need to go to on my own continent. This fall I am taking my son to Philadelphia- and I can’t wait to see some of the history of my nation.
    But- a trip across the ocean sounds fantastic! I want to go do all the touristy things and then- if I am lucky, I will get to do some of the real stuff too: I need to find friends where I am going so that they can help me navigate the foreign land.
    I got so excited when people from other places started reading my blog- I just hope that I am able to connect with them on a human level. That is the ultimate success for me. I want to know the world- and reading other people’s words seems to help with that.

    Forgive the disjointed nature of this response- I am pecking it out on my iPhone- and trying to multitask today.
    Oh- and I am from Texas- and have never said “howdy partner.” Maybe I should add it to my lexicon.

    • I am replying to myself… Hmmmm.
      Maybe you should travel abroad to Texas sometime- I’m sure I could teach you a few new words. 😉

      • I would love to visit Texas. I know that Texans follow their own rules and quite possibly have their own language too.

        • You are welcome to visit Texas anytime! We are a fairly friendly bunch. Don’t worry, I can translate for you. I apparently know British- I had someone tell me they could tell by my accent that I was from the UK… I think it may be my literature choices that affect my vocabulary.

  4. I went to Disneyland for my honeymoon. We traveled halfway across the United States to take our kids there on a few occasions. One year we spent a couple of nights at the Grand Canyon. It cost so much less and was so much more spectacular than Disneyland. After moving closer to California, we still enjoyed going to Disneyland, but we made sure that we visited some wonderful national parks such as Yosemite, Zions, and Great Basin as well. I have to agree, Europe it fabulous. I want to visit there again so badly.

    • Well, I have never been to Disneyland, so I know nothing! I have only visited the US once, and that was to New Orleans, which was fantastically interesting. I would love to see the Grand Canyon and all those national parks too.

      • It seems like Europeans always want to go to NYC. I’d say go there, but also come check out Arizona. The Grand Canyon is truly amazing (I’ve been there quite a few times) but there’s actually a lot more to see in this state and nearby off the beaten path that Europeans are generally not aware of. If it’s nature you’re into, you’ll have an amazing adventure.

  5. Being American, I guess I’ll reply to your “Howdy pardner” with a “Pip pip and cheerio!”

    Most British words I’m OK with, but there are some that mystify me. Like “jumper”. I don’t jump when wearing them, so I much prefer our name “sweater” which reflects exactly what I do in them. On the other hand, when wearing athletic shoes, we don’t really sneak in our “sneakers” but you probably train in your “trainers”.

    We not only have an entire universe in our borders, some of us have it in our own neighborhoods. Of the two large supermarkets within walking distance of my house, one is Korean. We have Peruvians living next door and Philippinos on the corner. One of my daughters’ best friend is ethnically Russian, born in Kirghizstan, and my other daughter’s best friend is half Brazilian.

    I have visited England once, for a couple of weeks back in college. It brought home the old saying that in England 100 miles is a long way, and in America 100 years is a long time. I stayed in private homes that were so old they would have been turned into museums in the US, but people thought we were crazy going from London to Liverpool on a day trip.

  6. I am an American who’s befriended some of your lovely countrymen via social media. I will visit some day and meet all these wonderful people. As for our use of words and culture, we are essentially a melting pot and most days I don’t even understand the things being said.

  7. We love you too Steve, and most other Brits.

    I have a good enough time at Disney World (never been to Disneyland although I hear it’s about the same), but for a vacation, I’ve always preferred a tour of NASA, a trip to the beach, or to a national park. But then, I’m not a typical American in many ways.

    Brits invented the iPhone? I’m curious how you arrived at that one.

  8. “Despite all of their failings…” hmmm. Were you being a tad judgmental?

    It seems people in all walks of life could complain about those in other settings in similar ways. My experience tells me that most people are much more alike than different after you strip away the political and cultural trappings. Don’t believe all you see on TV or read on the internet. 🙂

    • I don’t know for sure- but, I read it a little more tongue in cheek than all that. Or maybe your comment is a little more tongue in cheek than I read. One of my failings is not always getting the joke… I have many failings. Oh, no! Is it because I am an American? Probably not- one of my favorite bloggers loves Americans.

      • Failings? Because you are American? No, that’s all part of your charm!

        • I have a little blogger crush now. Why are you Brits so freaking charming? It must be the accent! Lol! Last night- at Furious Seven- I was lusting after Jason Statham- my son was horrified- he was like- “really, you wanna fall for a middle-aged British dude?” Sorry- I’m not sorry- maybe. lol!

      • I assume he is putting some tongue-in-cheek into these comments. I thought I should rattle his cage door a bit. 🙂

        Nice to meet another ‘murican.

    • Jim, I never believe anything I read on the internet, nor should anyone take any comments I make on my blog at face value 🙂

      • Being a physics-type, I figured you to be careful. None at face value? What are we to believe. Is there always a hidden meaning?
        (Pulling your chain)

        • I wasn’t sure if you were pulling my chain or not, Jim. Or rattling my cage. But I’m pleased to hear that it was some kind of physical abuse of that kind. I would hate to have offended you 🙂

        • Nope…just defending us weird Americans. Much of the time I have a love-hate relationship with our people. I don’t understand them.

  9. I’ve never been to Disneyland, nor have I been to Disneyworld despite living in both California and Florida. They are way too rich for my blood. I have, however, lived in or visited every state in the contiguous United States except for Maine. I’ll get around to Main eventually… and maybe Alaska. But ya gotta fly to get to Hawaii and I’m not a flying person.

    The thing about the United States is that it’s rather large, and that’s difficult for many people who’ve never been here to wrap their minds around. Hell, it’s hard for some people who live here to understand. 🙂 When I first moved from California to Florida, it was like moving to a whole nother country. We spoke the same language — technically just as you and I do — but it was a completely different dialect. They say “buggy” we say “cart” for the trolley in the grocery store for example. Also the weather was different — oh is the weather different! Different attitudes about religion, government, people. Everything! It’s the same country, but the culture shock was quite real.

    Even some of the laws differ from state to state — back when I moved to Florida people could not buy alcohol on Sundays. Some states you have to go to a state run liquor store to buy liquor, but in some you can buy it from the grocery store. In Mississippi, there were guns for sale at the local Wal-mart (totally tripped my international friends out). But that’s not the same in the state I live in now.

    That’s why I love it when people from other countries clump Americans as one group. We are over 320 million people, not homogeneous at all. We don’t speak the same language, we don’t have the same viewpoints, and we certainly don’t all fit into the same mold.

    • As a Texan- which is larger than many countries… I must say that you are correct. Here, things are so different! And, so spread out! We have everything in my state- mountains- hill country- plains- even beaches. The attitudes of the people are different every where- and it is amazing how many misconceptions there are about Texans. I had a friend from California that actually believed every one rode horses- and wore cowboy hats.
      I imagine there are a lot of misconceptions about everyone- and I have found that my long distance virtual relationships have shrunk the world a great deal!
      This has been uber helpful- now, I know so much more about other places. I know people like to be above FB and other online communities- but, I love getting to “know” new people- and making new “friends.” It has changed my view of the world.
      I have found we are all much more similar than we thought.

      • California is pretty huge too. Northern Californians are nothing like their Southern siblings and the people in the Central part wish that the two feuding ends would just leave them the hell alone. I grew up just North of San Francisco, so I’m on the border of Northern and Central. hahaha! But we’re not all beach babes and surfer dudes. Nor are we all hippies or Silicon Valley geeks. ^_^

        • I love northern Cali. Lodi is my Mecca. SF is probably my favorite city. It helps that my best friend lives in Lodi. It’s so beautiful there. I’m convinced the sky is bluer.

        • I’ve actually never heard of Lodi (I googled it), but grew up a little west of there in Vallejo. I’m up in WA now…

    • Yes, I’m mystified by your huge and varied country, as I’m sure you can tell. But I’m fascinated and in awe, and love encountering you all via this wonderful internet that brings everyone together.

  10. It’s a small town.

  11. I’ve never been to Washington- I’ve heard it is beautiful though.

  12. Is that the Mary-Lou from Minna-sota that used to live in the double-wide behind the Waffle House. Boy, don’t you be messin’ with her! I’m fixin’ to go see her right now. I’m all over that like a hobo on a ham sandwich. (On another note, here’s a comparison/contrast of Americans/Europeans I wrote for my German friends: https://shakemyheadhollow.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/individualism-and-collectivism/)

    • Yeah, you eat those waffles, boy. Live the American dream! I remember reading your post a while back, Gary, and even left a comment. You’ll see that I’m a sneaky admirer of the USA, and this current post is just my subconscious effort to divert attention away from that.

  13. emilymullaswilson

    Loved this post! I enjoy reading blog posts and articles about how Americans are perceived by other nationalities. It’s so fascinating–like getting to peer into a magic mirror of our collective society. I must say, your perspective on American culture is considerably more flattering than many portrayals I’ve read!

    It’s interesting how our collective American identity has been shaped by that pioneering, exploring spirit of our ancestors. I think that’s why we have such loud, bold personalities–the people who were willing to leave their ancestral homes and start a new life on the other side of the world were the brash types. Unfortunately, our relative geographic isolation can sometimes make us ethnocentric and narrow minded. I think that the primary benefit of travel is that it broadens the mind and generates mutual understanding among different cultures. But for us, it’s not a matter of a Ryan Air or Eurostar ticket; it’s a $1000+ flight across the Atlantic! Thank goodness for the blogosphere, right?

    Well, the sun’s settin’ over the ranch, so it’s ’bout time to go round up my little doggies now–yippee ki yay!

    • Thanks for taking some time out from the ranch, Emily. This post seems to have generated a lot of interest (all from Americans.) Good to see that my gentle and affectionate mocking translates across the Atlantic.
      In Britain we are spoiled, in that we can country-hop with relative ease. But of course, in America, you have so much to see without even needing a passport!

  14. Well I’m from Oak-la-homer and I’ve heard one person pronounce it that way—a guy from Massa-choo-sits.

    People are always surprised that I “don’t have an accent,” which means I speak the “generic American” you hear in movies and news. (Actually, I do have an accent, but it only comes out on certain words like “ten”.) What ladyquirky says about us is true—we have so many misconceptions about each other. I have a friend who lives in California who thought Tucson would be a dreadful place to live. We asked him to come visit, and he refused. (I kept to myself that his area in L.A. felt like one big congested shopping mall.) He finally came to see us and was pleasantly surprised. He later confessed that he imagined it would look like West Texas where he grew up.

    I’ve been to London, but I didn’t get to see much of it because someone stole my wallet just before that trip. I ended up thinking London itself was okay, but I didn’t love it in comparison to other cities I had recently been to. The thing that made that city great for me was the people. I walked into this hostel and declared myself broke, hoping they’d give me a further discount. (The pound was just killing me…everything was twice as much.) They not only gave me a discount but let me stay for free so long as I helped make a few beds. They took me partying every night and showed me how to get around and do things for free. I’ll never forget that. I fully expected to encounter some of the snobbery of Paris, but it wasn’t like that at all.

    For my next trip—assuming I get a next trip—I’d love to visit Cornwall. The images I’ve seen of it are enchanting. Maybe I’ll combine that with a trip to northern France.

  15. Travel. It’s always a good thing. And so is the internet, and blogging. On accents, you know that there are British people whose accents are so different from “standard English” that I really cannot understand them. I have never had that trouble with any kind of American speaker. That’s presumably because of the great mixing that took place when your ancestors all decided that they couldn’t handle Europe a moment longer and took to the sea in search of some peace and quiet.

  16. I whole heartedly adore Americans. I lived in the States For a few years and have nothing but adoration for them. My only concern is that I dint understand why they love guns and why some don’t want free healthcare… But that’s a different animal altogether.

  17. While I enjoyed this post, I have to point out that a large percentage of Americans did not come from England. It is called a melting pot for a reason: other countries in Europe, the Americas, Mexico, Cuba, etc are all origins for many Americans. My husband, for example, is first generation Italian (meaning both his mother’s and father’s families immigrated to America from the same town in Italy when his mother and father were young.) Also, although I am in the minority, I traveled the world from a young age. I traveled more abroad than I did in the States. Now, my origins on both sides are Great Britain, except for a smidge of German. I am literally directly descended from one of the initiators of the Mayflower Compact, a heritage I am proud of and that links me to historical greats as John Adams.

    • I’m just teasing, as usual. One of the most interesting facets of the USA is its broad ethnic diversity. It must be quite something to trace your ancestors to such a famous event.

  18. NotAPunkRocker

    I’m an American who doesn’t think much either way of being one. I would rather be on y’all’s side of the pond, honestly.

  19. Well Steve, if your fine commenters here are representative of their great nation, then they have at least disposed of one cultural myth: that American’s don’t do irony. 😉

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