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Sunday, January 31, 2016


It was another week where the 'strange' Englishwoman 'strikes again'!  I often feel that I am merely tolerated because I am from the old country, and sometimes I take advantage of this.  

Most of the time, people have absolutely no idea what I am saying, and just nod and smile.  I have, on occasion, conducted a long and drawn out monologue, at the end of which the person to whom I am talking has smiled, and indicated that they had no idea what I had just said, but really loved listening to my accent.  This has proved to be an advantage, as when my mouth has decided not to heed the instructions of my brain, and I blurt out something that could be misconstrued as offensive, it has not been understood.  "I am English" covers a multitude of misdemeanours!   
After our homeowners' association meeting on Saturday, my naughty gene struck with a vengeance.  Walking around the supermarket, I became rather mischievous, and the only reasonable explanation was that I had been cooped up all morning, and had been on my best behaviour.  Of course, my 'best behaviour' is not always the precedent, but I had conducted myself in a reasonable fashion.  Samantha had wanted to look at some items in the 'automotive' section, and I had blindly followed.  After attempting to get her to 'head' a football (soccer) and failed, I knew I was going the 'wrong way', and when I felt the urge to take one of the tyres that was on rack, and roll it across the floor, like a hoop, confirmed that I was going to have to get this out of my system! Samantha's comment, "Oh no, you are in one of those moods, aren't you!" made me realise that indeed I was, and the giggling started. The reaction from others vary from absolute disgust to suppressed laughter, but as soon as I let them know, "I am English", there appears to be recognition that this is how an Englishwoman behaves.  I have no idea from where this recognition stems, considering that the general consensus is that the Brits are rather starchy, and whilst not necessarily unfriendly, they are normally very well composed!  Perhaps I am the Austin's version of the 'exception to the rule'.  However, I digress!  I had managed to control the desire to misbehave by the time we had reached the 'fresh produce' section, and the remainder of the supermarket adventure was uneventful.  

I thoroughly enjoyed 'free pie' on Monday evening, and the waitresses in the restaurant have come to know my quirks and oddities. They don't always understand what I am saying, but as I invariably order the same item on the menu, they do not have to worry.  A sudden change in consonants may raise an eyebrow, but they know that I will not be offended when they turn to my husband and ask, "What did she say?"  

Tuesday was Australia Day.  Whilst this has no bearing on most of 
the United States, the Outback restaurant decided to mark the occasion with a special offer.  The picture of 'sliced beef with sauce' resembled a good old fashioned roast dinner, and as I opened the email that claimed I would be sorry if I missed it, my mouth started to water.  "We should try it", said my husband, as he walked past my desk on his way out to water the dog.  Going out for dinner on a school night (other than Monday, of course, as who can resist the offer of free pie!) was a potential challenge for me.  My mother had a meal ready for us each and every day, when I lived at home, and I have never quite managed to release myself from the roles of the housewife, that have now become antiquated.  I could not answer the question "Why?" when I suggested that it was not right that we should go out to a restaurant for dinner two nights in a row. My husband pointed out that I work just as long hours as does he! Therefore, why should I not take advantage of the offer to make my life a little easier, and let someone else cook for me. I reluctantly surrendered, as I looked at the picture of the roast once again.  

"No, I am English", was good enough for the hostess who answered the phone, and the rather odd question  being posed by the non-Australian.  "Is the 'sauce' gravy", I asked, wondering if the sludge on the side of the picture was indeed the traditional condiment or more of a barbecue version.  The young lady whom answered the phone was not sure how to answer my question, once she had established that I was not Australia.  Although I am unsure as to why, the fact that I was not from the other old country, was for some reason, a relief.  The manager confirmed that although this was not barbecue sauce, it was also not a traditional gravy. However, being that I was English, I may consider it to be 'a gravy of sorts', as "our gravy is not the same as y'alls gravy".  I did not go into my usual speech of how 'us all', do not have a 'y'all's gravy', and we do not actually have a y'all, as I was was in work mode and not in 'tease' mode.  Having made a distinction between the sludge that accompanies dinner (as opposed to that put on biscuits) I set my taste buds into 'roast dinner' mode and was ready to be delighted by the Australian Day special.  

"No, I am English", I told the waitress, as she attempted to understand what it was that I was ordering.  I did not have a copy of the email, and was not going to break my rule of accessing it through my phone.  I tried to explain what I wanted for dinner, but try as I might, it was as if I was speaking something totally alien. She smiled, and nodded, each time I told her, but then looked at Dana and asked, "What did she say?"  Eventually, the manager came to her rescue, or rather she went in search of the manager, who remembered my telephone call, and pointed her in the right direction.  The item, eg, the roast, was not specifically for Australia Day, but it was one they used to advertise.   Finally, my order was processed. The gravy was actually a thick-ish Marsala sauce, which did compliment the dinner rather well.  Not the traditional 'Bisto' (please 'google') in which I usually drown my meat and potatoes, but none the less, very pleasant.  

Our daily constitutional, midweek, took in a visit to HEB, where blueberries were 'on special'.  I have taken to buying the fruit when 'on special' and freezing large amounts, so that I always have a supply.  Whether or not their antioxidants are responsible for keeping women in good health, is neither here nor there at this point.  I have been enjoying a few every day, after dinner, just because!  Fifteen punnets was my limit on Wednesday, as I did not have room, nor cash, for any more, and Samantha was already calculating the additional weight upon her back for the return walk. She had offered to haul the majority of the goodies for me, and I did not argue.  The lady who followed us in the queue commented on my purchase and asked if I was going to be making a lot of pies. My daughter replied in the negative, and announced that I merely ate them.  "So many?  Are you English?"  I am not sure if the statements were mutually exclusive!  Samantha nodded, and smiled. I am not sure whether this was politeness or retaliation!  

Being English of course has its disadvantages.  When entering contests, I have to acknowledge that I am a resident of the USA, and that I am eligible to enter.  Depending on how large the prize, depends on whether I have to fill in a form, (for tax purposes) or not.  The email I received on Thursday was very exciting.  I had won tickets to a movie!  I remembered entering for this particular contest and went online to see what the prize entailed.  Apparently, I was going to be the proud owner of a fantastic new digital device that had only just hit the market, and also a complete make up set, and various other wonderful goodies, most of which I would probably end up giving to friends or family.  For two hours, I fought to retain the fantastic new digital device, as Dana commented that he would love to be the recipient, and Samantha had told him to 'get in line'. The fact that it was 'mine' had no bearing on how the goodies were going to be 'divvied up'.  It then occurred to me that the value of the items would amount to more than the threshold, and I replied to the email, asking what information they would be requiring before I could receive my super-duper gift.  Being English had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I had not read the 'blurb' properly, which actually read, "One lucky winner".  The email I received in response to mine confirmed that I needed only to bring a photo ID, as my prize was, and I quote, "Just movie tickets and a tote bag".  The moments disappointment was followed by howls of laughter.  However, no one else found this to be particularly funny, especially those who had already put names in a hat to see who would be the recipient of my prize!  Posters, apparently, were not wanted, and I was kindly told that I could keep them!  

I did retrieve my posters, tote bag and movie tickets on Friday, and showed my photo ID to the girl behind the glass partition.  Next to her keyboard was the form to be completed by the 'big' winner, and I told Samantha that perhaps we should wait and 'jump' her when she (or he) came to collect their winnings. She pointed out that there was a microphone on my side of the partition and that the lady on the other side could hear me.  I looked through the glass, and the smile upon the receptionist's face was such that I knew she did not understand a word I had just said.  "We're good"! I told my daughter and we left with the moderate gift!  

Next week will no doubt hold its challenges and delights, but I know that I shall be questioned about my nationality at least once! I did win another contest, which is breakfast for the office!  Next Friday the morning crew from a TV station will be arriving at our office with a lot of breakfast tacos.  It should be fun!  I have been told, by those in my office, how they should be 'divvied up', and I have had to be firm and announce that I am in charge!  Once again, everyone, including my daughter, look at me and smile, nod and then either do not understand, or choose not to understand, what I have said!  I take it all with in good humour!  Breakfast tacos are definitely not English, but then again, I am no longer in England! Onward and upwards and thumbs up to this kind of diversity! What I assume will be a delicious repast and the acceptance speech will be expanded in .............. another story!

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