Big Scott off Campus: being assimilated

I’ve started drinking tea, all the time. At this point I’m averaging four or five cups a day. That’s a lot of tea. I’m trying really hard to be assimilated into English culture. But, like it or not, over the past week or so, I’ve realised how American I really am. Over the weekend, I went to Starbucks with two American friends. And then I realised how much I liked coffee. I started to long for snack bar coffee purchased with dinner points. I haven’t been assimilated yet.

The past week has been replete with English experiences. On Tuesday we toured Westminster and, along with a few other Williams people, I saw a session of the House of Commons. I listened to one member of Parliament speak for 20 minutes in favour of a proposed law for mirabile dictu hedge length. This Labour MP discussed how horrible the Conservative government had been for allowing hedges to grow for so long. He went on to explain the messianic role of the Labour government in assuring all British subjects that the hedges would indeed be cut back. This all seemed a little silly to me, but I guess I just don’t understand British politics.

Then, on Thursday as I was riding my bike, I saw Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, on the street. That was pretty neat. In case you’re wondering, he drives a black Alfa Romeo. I didn’t say hello or anything. He seemed to be deep in thought. He was probably busy worrying about the IMF or postmodernity or the new album or something like that.

At times like those, I do start to feel like, hey, here I am, a student in England, fitting in just fine, thank you very much. After going out Friday night to a jazz cocktail party (the band couldn’t hold a candle to Fat Cat Sampson), some English friends of mine (I do have non-Williams English friends, which in itself makes me feel assimilated) invited me for after-party tea. At that point, I was on cup of tea number seven.

All was going well until someone asked me to do a New York accent. And then someone else asked if I knew anybody with a gun. Another friend of mine asked if I lived in an apartment like the one on Friends. At that point I had to explain that I live on Long Island, that I don’t live in an apartment, and that no one has an apartment like the one on Friends. I left pretty soon after that; I was finished with my cup of tea anyway.

On Sunday I played football for the Catholic Society against the Jewish Society. There are few things more English than football, so I was psyched to play. A bunch of my friends were playing so I was pretty excited. I only played the first half, though. Then the captain took me out for the rest of the game. He claims it was because there were other people who didn’t get to play at all, but that still doesn’t explain why he took me out. I see two possible reasons for taking me out. One, I’m not a very good footballer. Two, I’m American. I think it’s the latter.

Sunday night I went to a pub with two American students. As we were sitting, talking to each other, a large group of American tourists sat near us. They obviously overheard our accents, and one of them turned to me saying, “Hey, are you from America?” He then asked where I was from; where in New York; where on Long Island?

He then stood up and looking around to his group said, “Hey this guy’s from Garden City. Anybody from Garden City?” They told my friends and I that they were a group of home-brewers, who brewed their own beer. They had come to England on a trip and were doing a pub crawl that night. We were surrounded by a bunch of drunk middle-aged Americans who were very loud and very glad to see other Americans.

“Isn’t this great?” the guy said, “Everyone in this part of the pub is American.”

It doesn’t matter how much tea I drink, I suppose. Maybe I’ll just face facts and go back to coffee.

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