Yes, the holiday season means the blog drops to the bottom of the list. Between the endless loop of activities and the endless darkness, I’m not in the best place for writing. Bermuda. That would be a good place to be in for writing. Hawaii. Yeah.
I was having a conversation the other day about how British and American communications styles can be so different. “How do you mean?” my British conversational partner asked. I was at a loss to explain exactly what I meant without suggesting one was ‘more’ or ‘less’ or implying any judgements about one being better, or clearer, or easier. So I said: “You know, American style tends to be … ” and I made a slightly helpless gesture — a wide flinging out of arms, a shrug, a wave of both hands, a cock of the head to the side, strong eye contact.
And she knew exactly what I meant. This was not a gesture any British person would ever ever ever make, barring severe neuroimpairment. “We call it American Gush,” she so helpfully explained, with a knowing nod.
(We?? I thought. Was there a secret British committee meeting where consensus opinion decided “American Gush” suitably described an entire nation?)
British reserve is a very real thing. It almost has its own sentience. I think it has been knighted. When it was knighted, it probably raised one eyebrow, slightly, and went on about its day without making any fuss. What I consider normal enthusiasm is greeted as some kind of executive-order mental dysfunction. And in reverse, I perceive normal British reserve and dignity as untreated clinical depression.
I’m struggling with this cultural disconnect, a bit, but there’s nothing to do but embrace it. Hello, my name is Monique, and I am the American Gush.