Sunday, March 16, 2014

Who Am I This Time?

So apparently I’m becoming British.

This thought occurred to me as I was watching the football match between Tottenham and Arsenal this morning with my mug of tea in my hand.  Note that I can say “football” completely without irony when I am watching a soccer game now.  I find that I can also tell the difference between the good teams and the bad teams just by watching them, which didn’t used to be true.  This may or may not be progress, depending on how you feel about soccer.  Or football.

Don’t ask me to explain the league structure over there, though.  My friend Paul tried that once, and it was just the most convoluted thing I have ever read outside of a graduate seminar, though admittedly much more amusing and better written.

And I do agree with him that American football would be much better off with relegation as an option.

My television viewing habits have pretty much narrowed down to Top Gear, Graham Norton, Doctor Who, and the Premier League.  I no longer ask myself what the weather is like before firing up the teakettle, as I have come to the conclusion that there is never a bad time for tea (though I still haven’t made the transition to referring to it as a “cuppa,” which just sounds silly to me).  I actually like HP Sauce on my food.  Also, a disturbing number of the authors I choose to read are British, and I find random u’s creeping into my spelling like mould on a bagel on a humid summer afternoon.

It’s the bagel metaphor that assures me I’m still American.  Do they even have bagels in the UK?  For crying out loud they didn’t even have them in the midwest until recently.

I suppose some of it is the increasing sense of being cut adrift by American culture, as it careens ever further toward right-wing insanity and fundamentalist excess.  I've devoted my life to the study of American history - as it says over there on the sidebar, I actually do know what this country was founded upon, which puts me one up on most of your Facebook friends - and it is a sad thing to realize just how far that culture has drifted from my grasp here in the 21st century.  It makes less and less sense to me, and the things my countrymen now take for granted strike me as both bizarre and unwarranted.

I’m not sure if Britain is any less bizarre, really.  I didn’t grow up there, and most of what I know about it comes from exported popular culture, three visits, and the reports of a number of friends who have lived or who continue to live there.  But it does seem more comfortable these days.



John the Scientist said...

Yes, they have bagels. They even have bagels in Taipei these days.

I think bagels arrived in your area about the same time as they did in Taipei, which is really all the rest of the world needs to know about the cosmopolitanism of the American Midwest. :D

The question is, are those bagels any good.

Keep in mind, these are British cooks we are talking about...

David said...

Yes, I suppose, although 1) the food I've had there has been quite good, and 2) boiling things is right up their traditional alley anyway.

That's the problem with midwestern bagels actually - they steam them instead of boiling them, and what you end up with is toroidal muffins.

Eric said...
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Eric said...

When I was in college, taking enough classes in the Philosophy and Religion departments I could have minored in it, one couldn't help noticing the fact that nearly every professor who'd attended a seminary or religious school was an atheist or agnostic. Presumably none of them started that way, naturally; one suspects it's just that there's nothing to shake a faith like being well-informed in it.

I wonder if there's an analogous process at work in an American American History scholar slowly turning British.

David said...

It may be somewhat analogous, but in reverse. I haven't lost my faith in American history or its foundational values so much as modern Americans seem to have rejected them for bizarre myths of their own self-serving design.

They have moved on, not me.

It would be as if those professors had held their original beliefs but drifted away from an increasingly divergent church in order to teach Hinduism or some other faith.