American Gush

12 Dec

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.

feet on the groundfeet on the ground … head in the clouds … arms in the, um, hedges …

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13 Responses to “American Gush”

  1. Cari December 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    You are so funny!

    • Monique December 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

      Gotta laugh. That or lose my mind. So on the whole, laughter is better.

  2. Zazzy December 12, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Funny, but interesting. I talk and gesture as if I were Italian – but by heritage I’m Swedish and probably British. I don’t think the Swedes are much more demonstrative than the British so maybe it’s just so American!

    • Monique December 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      🙂 I don’t see a lot of British hand-talking. Lots of subtle facial expressions, though. You are just SO American!

  3. Lisa December 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    Love it!! I know exactly what you’re talking about too! Sometimes my close (British) friend says to me “You’re so American” and because she’s a friend I know she means it lovingly!

    • Monique December 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

      It’s true, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to ‘gush’ — just a very different way to approach the world. So great to have loving friends who can make you smile. 🙂

  4. Aubrey Price Pettyjohn December 13, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Monique, your description of The Gesture made me snort coffee out of my nose. Then the personification of reserve made it happen AGAIN. Hilarious!

    I am perky, demonstrative, excitable, and enthusiastic by American standards. Perfect strangers diagnose me with mental dysfunction – or peg me as a professional cheerleader, which everyone knows is actually worse than mental dysfunction – within two minutes of our meeting.

    • Monique December 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

      So what you’re saying is that you are such an American Gush that coffee actually gushes out your nose? Yay! 😉 I like hanging out with other ‘crazy’ people — you know, making eye contact, talking out loud, crazy stuff like that.

  5. Rebecca Forbes December 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I love this blog, I love Monique. I want to meet Monique and Gush with her when I go to England to see my children. Can we have tea and act all American gushy-like? Could ‘gush’ in this usage be a noun?

    • Monique December 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      NOT being gushy would be the hard part. It’s a natural, effortless, unstoppable gush. You are so sweet! I love you too! Gush! Gush!

  6. Sarah December 14, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    Thank goodness someone else mentioned Italians. I’ve had an entire conversation in hand gestures in Naples. Is that Italian Gush? Not the same ring to it. I suppose it’s the whole “common language” thing perhaps? But even common language is sometimes a stretch, no? I love that you analyze all this. I’ve just been gushing my way along and didn’t even notice.

    Oh my GASP! What are those shoes?

    • Monique December 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

      Surely the Italians are too fashion conscious to gush, or too cool, or world-weary, or just overall too fabulous. I’m not sure. I wonder if the whole EU is in on this American Gush thing, and just never told us.

      (Oo, you noticed my shoes? [said with happy blinking eyes and slight blushing gush] I love them, they’re from Jambu (http://www.jambu.com) whose shoes I now adore with a massive american gushing passion.)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. And now for something completely different | Crumpets in Camelot - November 26, 2013

    […] bit.  You know I spend my time crumpeting around, falling into fantasy land, wringing my hands or gushing over being an American in the UK, going gaga over history, enjoying a good bakery, picturesque […]

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