The younger woman has her act together, sartorially at least. She has brought playsuits in pastel crushed cottons, and sexy off-the-shouder
T-shirts for the discos, (except that, at American resorts she can’t find many, so repairs often to the local hamburger-and-singles-bar). Her accent is a Godsend, and for the first time in her life she’s told ‘it’s gorgeous’ – even if she comes from Liverpool or Birmingham. She finds that a grooverette’s reputation for sensual rapacity precedes her (somehow borne out by her pink-tipped, wet-gelled hair, and selection of earings).
In truth, she’s something of an innocent abroad, never having been far out of mum’s earshot. But she enjoys her notoriety, and laughs a lot, and likes being teased even when she doesn’t understand the jokes. People always say she’s ‘so cute’ when she says ‘chips’ instead of french fries. She doesn’t mind the food, because she rarely eats it, sticking mainly to a liquid diet. Cocktails. It’s the best summer holiday she’s ever had. She just can’t get over the thrilling idea that when you date waiters in America, you date Americans.
US / UK guide to naffness-avoidance: What not to do in each other’s countries
AMERI-NAFFWhen in the UK, don’t:
1) buy china and Waterford crystal, then speak obsessively of the shipping charges for sending it home;
2) buy cashmere. Especially boring classics that are only $5 more in Gimbels;
3) buy tartans, or wear tartan berets in the streets because it makes you ‘feel British’. Don’t go into shops and insist on looking for your family tartan, especially if your name is Yablonsky;
4) talk about genealogy ... yours or other people’s. No one cares. You and everyone else you will meet are probably 7 billionth in line for the British throne;
5) talk about how ‘civilized’ London is. It isn’t;
6) forget to stand on the right of escalators in tubes. It irritates natives;
7) be sycophantically complimentary about members of the Royal Family. It’s creepy;
8) assume that people you meet would secretly like to trade places with you. They wouldn’t. They like being British.
BRIT-NAFFWhen in the US, don’t:
1) eat hamburgers or sandwiches with a knife and fork. Even if they are huge and sloppy;
2) wear ankle-socks with sandals;
3) insist that you only eat ice-cream in hot weather. Ice-cream is America’s national dish. Temperature has nothing to do with it;
4) complain about the ubiquitous air-conditioning (Take your cardy to restaurants and cars). Do not try to open windows in skyscrapers for fresh air. American windows do not open. Yanks prefer a ‘controlled environment’;
5) remove the ice from drinks, or ask the waitress to leave it out so that you get more Coca Cola in the glass for you money;
6) be insulting about American television. You are already watching most of it home;
7) wonder aloud how all the sunny says will affect plants (they have sprinkler systems) or how people get by without better public transport (they have cars);
8) call dessert ‘pudding’ … ‘what’s for pudding?’. They won’t understand, and they will think you are one.