They’ll love your accent they told me. Well, one week and a day into being a Brit living in Cincinnati, USA I’m actually finding that no-one really seems to give that much of a monkeys. There I am wandering round supermarkets, speaking loudly to my children with a fairly put on southern counties raa raa accent and no-one seemed to care remotely. I went to a park and stood near other mums who were saying stuff like “Good job buddy!” in response to a great slide descent. I said, “Jolly Good, darling” channeling Kate Middleton and Penelope Keith. Still nothing happened. Anyway, so I’m going to park that as a friend recruitment technique and move on to my default level 2 which is to act pathetic and needy around people which will be simple because I won’t even have to act.
So, other than the failure of the accent golden bullet to hit the instant popularity target here are the 3 most notable observations of my first week living here:
1. SUPERMARKETS ARE GOING TO REQUIRE A LARA CROFT APPROACH
There have been a series of reactions to the average supermarket environment on my trips to them so far:
Stage 1: AWE: You enter and you are in grocery procurement wonderland. Its generally an oasis of flora, fauna and anything else which isn’t fauna as I don’t actually know what that is. At this stage I am excited about the shopping trip as I look at giant fresh tubs of guacamole and other things until I notice that they are about a tenner each but I trance buy regardless.
Stage 2: WONDER….as I suddenly hit a random section of frozen fish right by the lettuces! What was that all about? In my UK programmed mind I am not expecting frozen fish here. I NEED frozen fish to feed my love of fish finger sandwiches, but I can’t bring myself to buy as I am not ready. It’s dairy next, surely – or bread or something??
Stage 3: STIMULATION: After the random fish thing, you hit your first aisle of packaged groceries. Now, I am a packaged grocery sort of girl having had it pay my wages for flogging it for about 20 years so I’m fairly captivated at this stage. There is TONNES of it too, canned things, cartoned things, things you wouldn’t expect to be in a dry box like macaroni cheese. There’s LOTS of different ways to get macaroni cheese which leads to stage 4:
Stage 4: FATIGUE: About 4 aisles later I’m still finding different formats of ambient macaroni cheese. Now, I was interested for a while, but I’m sort of over it now. My basket contains 10 quid guacamole and a tin of sweetcorn. This does not yet constitute a meal my family might accept.
Stage 5: BRING ME GLINDA! There are so many aisles. After 20 for packaged grocery, I’ve hit frozen, then dairy and some bread, then more packaged grocery and more frozen fish and some dump bins of macaroni cheese in yet another format. I’m lost. I don’t understand it. I need a yellow brick road, I need takeaway, I need Tesco. And there’s no Dairy Milk! And I can’t even pull the British accent card .. see point 1.
The good news is, I’ve been 3 times now and last night I cooked a complete meal of fajitas (that’s the quacamole used).
2. CHOCOLATE & CHEESE ARE AN ISSUE
I was warned that American chocolate would not be the same. It isn’t. We had a 6 box allowance of air freight items. I did not put any Dairy Milk in it. I am just going to address myself momentarily: YOU STUPID, STUPID, STUPID, STUPID girl. The good news is there is an international supermarket 10 miles away that stocks it for 3 times the price. This stops nothing.
Cheese wise, I’m no connoisseur or snob but I was Marketing Manager for Cathedral City for 3.5 years and I know that mild cheddar isn’t maximising the pleasure potential of this dairy product. There only seems to be mild cheddar here. LOTS AND LOTS of mild cheddar; blocks, big bags, little bags, yellow mild cheddar, orange mild cheddar. There’s mild cheddar mixed with other mild cheeses, mild cheddar in tubes, tubs and glass jars. AMERICANS! You are missing out here, you really are. Just leave that shizzle to mature, just a few more months – magic happens! Just try it, you’ll see. You’ll thank me. You will!
3. RED LIGHTS. HAHAHAHAHA!
It turns out driving on the right isn’t such a massive challenge. Just stay the side of the finger without the wedding rings on, no problem. The thing that is a bit more bonkers is what the frig you are supposed to do in the face of a red light. What to do at a red light is like the off side rule (e.g. witch craft). So far I’ve tried to apply logical rules as given to me by my husband. This has resulted in a honk to move, a honk to stop, a near death experience and a fair amount of swearing. I’ve googled it, I’ve asked an American. No-one actually knows, so I’m just gonna wing it like the rest of ’em.
It’s alright though here. Washing machines have been sent from the future! The post boxes are like Molly Ringwald’s in Pretty in Pink type films. You can fill a car with fuel for 10p. Car parks are ample with spaces the size of the cars, mostly not needing tickets. You can get water and ice from the front of fridges and a bird has made a nest on one of our window sills and its got 3 little blue eggs in it containing what I think are REAL BABY BIRDS.
Happy Easter from Mason, Ohio!