Today, as a reward for being a good girl at the doctors’ office, my hub took me to eat at the Chinese buffet. While eating my two plates (gotta get my money’s worth and drive down their profit margins), I heard it. That’s right. I heard someone speaking American.
Question: What’s the difference between speaking American and speaking English? Answer: American is louder.
I heard a guy yell “Hey Pete, over here!” and I looked up to see a group of American twenty-something guys. One of them was eating lunch at the Chinese place with a local woman. The other three had been walking around and had been to McDonalds. (I can infer this from the MickeyD’s cups they were slurping from.) They looked around for a place to sit down and wait for their buddy. They spied some nice leather chairs in the restaurant section next to ours. These were swanky armchairs because that was a swanky restaurant. So, they sat down in the swanky chairs, taking up two tables, and ordered just one water. In order to make up for the waiter’s surprise that they sat down at Le Swank and only wanted water, one guy deftly pulls out some coins and ostentatiously tips the guy.
I was privileged to understand that the waiters thought this was funny and these guys were fools. They also thought the money was for the water, not a tip.
So, after the guys got the water and drank it while looking very cool slouching in the leather chairs sporting their sunglasses, they got up to leave. The guy who drank it left some coins to pay for the water and the other guy once again gave a tip with a flourish. The waiters made about 5 lira off one water.
One other factor drew more attention to these guys than they probably wanted. Three of them were African Americans. Over here people are many shades of white, tan, and olive, but no one is dark. The Central Asians are fascinated with anyone who has dark skin (African Americans, Africans, Jamaicans, Black people from Britain, etc.). And, they didn’t exactly blend in. So, the whole food court was staring at them (which isn’t really that rude in this culture).
The whole time they were there, I was alternating between laughter and embarassment for my culture. In the States, you would see these guys and maybe accuse them of having a bit too much swagger (if you noticed them at all). But, you’d chalk that up to their youth. Here, they came across as loud, arrogant, rude, and uncultured. I’m sure they would have been mortified to know how they were being seen.
I wonder what they would have thought if they knew that the table beside them was a couple of Americans. I’m sure they wouldn’t have believed it if anyone had told them. Why? Because we don’t talk that loud.