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It’s time to take a breather from telling you about all the American things we Brits think are weird, daft or amusing. Some of the stuff they do is just plain delightful.
1. Going out for dessert
Like wide-eyed Lost Boys, Americans live for the sweet stuff. And this means it’s perfectly fine to head to a restaurant and just order ice cream. Or, you might eat your main course somewhere, then move on to a venue that exclusively serves sweets. In the U.S., dessert is its own miraculous thing, and the star of any meal. You’ll never catch an American dismissively calling it “afters”.
2. Making pancakes that look like animals
Telly tells us this is how American parents spend their mornings, so it must be true. But preparing pancakes in the shape of beasts is a logical (and thoroughly cute) next move, after you’ve mastered entry-level roundish splats. If I do nothing else for my American daughter, I WILL get batter to sit in the shape of puppies, kittens and elephants.
3. Groundhog Day
America’s cutest weatherman is a rodent. On February 2nd, a celebrity groundhog emerges from its burrow. If it’s cloudy, then spring will come early. Apparently. If it’s sunny, it’s believed that the wary groundhog will see its shadow and head back inside. Consequently, the winter will last six more weeks. Most adorable folklore EVER.
4. Persisting with imperial measurements
Even though Congress endorsed the metric system back in 1866 and encourages its use in industry, most Americans have doggedly stuck to inches, feet, tons and ounces. The only place you’re likely to hear talk of “centimeters” is on a hospital maternity wing.
5. Pumpkin worship
For a country that cherishes beauty, it’s perplexing that a vegetable that looks like a satsuma’s gnarly, fat uncle is so cherished. But I say, gourd bless ‘em! Please America, carry on slipping the mighty pumpkin into every conceivable food and drink.
6. Being nice to everyone
Most Americans make it their business to be not just functionally polite but warm and welcoming, even in the face of a stranger’s surliness. Brits in particular can find this cloying, but take a moment to consider the alternative. If you have and you still prefer it, move to France.
7. Saying “happy holidays”
The first few times you hear an American utter this diluted, fuzzy greeting, it’ll feel funny and uncomfortably forced. But it’s coming from a good place. America is a multicultural, multi-religious society with a cluster of festivals falling in those end months. Okay, the idea that you might actually offend someone by accidentally wishing them a happy Christmas is faintly ridiculous. But setting out to make sure you definitely don’t upset anyone is not only adorable, it’s admirable.
8. Buying newspapers from a dispenser
So, you put you’re money in the machine, open the hatch and there are all the newspapers, just lying there in a tempting stack practically begging to be pinched. Yet the great big corporations that put them there have faith that you will walk away only with what you paid for. Totes adorbs, media moguls!
I love how shopping for second hand toot has acquired its own charming American verb. Next time you’re shuffling around a junk shop and accidentally inhale a musty cobweb as you can reach that colonial era porn mag, you can cutesy up the story of your day by opening with: “So, we were antiquing in Maine…”
10. Grown ups wear bibs to eat seafood
Cuteness-wise, this is the human equivalent of putting a wig on a dog. Yes, there’s an inherent sensibleness to covering up your clothes to eat food that splatters and stains, but it’s also delightfully undignified.
Do you have any additions to the list?
8 Situations When Brits Behave Differently from Americans
10 Common British Expressions That Baffle Americans
What NOT to Do at Christmas: A Guide for Brits
View all posts by Ruth Margolis.