1. You can chat for several minutes and realize you don’t have a clue what’s he talking about.
“We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.” — Oscar Wilde
Bob’s your uncle. I have an Uncle Bob. A lot of people do. A total cock up. Sounds like a porno. The dog’s bollocks. Dog balls are a good thing? Don’t tell that to mine. He’s chopped.
Then there are the words that sound like you’re conversing with a toddler, but they’re actually coming out of the mouth of your grown-arse boyfriend: wellies, yonks, totty, ta, tickety-boo, squiffy, squidgy, rumpy-pumpy, scrummy, scrumping, diddle, dickey, bugger, bung.
Aside from his penchant for childlike vernacular, your boyfriend also possesses an impressive vocabulary of words that actually do exist. (Although, most Americans will not be aware of their existence or proper pronunciation.) While the Brit will opt for the most erudite word possible, the American will go look up ‘erudite’ in the dictionary. Your boyfriend does this because…
2. He can sometimes be a tad pretentious.
Whether your boyfriend fits the floppy-haired, bumbling Four Weddings and A Funeral Hugh Grant or the charismatic, bastardly Bridget Jones’s Diary Hugh Grant, he’s going to have an air of arrogance to him. I think this has something to do with those years when Britain was the largest empire in the world. This former glory has been drilled into their upbringing. They can all regale you with tales of how the sun never set on the British Empire blah blah blah. Of course, these days your boyfriend has probably never seen the sun which brings me to…
3. He doesn’t understand the sun.
That damp, rainy rock he calls home rarely sees the sun. In California, he’s shocked to discover that after only nine hours of direct sun exposure, his beautiful, spotted, pasty pallor has deepened into a burning crimson red. These are his only two colors.
4. He doesn’t understand weather in general.
It’s a sunny 60F and your boyfriend wants to have an outdoor BBQ or ride around in a convertible. This is boot weather in SoCal. You’ll wear a scarf and sip a pumpkin spice latte while your Brit will don a t-shirt and start sweating. He has no clue what 60F means. That’s why you now have a measurement converting app on your smartphone for all the measurement converting needs that come with a British boyfriend: distance, currency, weight, shoe size, etc.
5. He doesn’t understand tipping.
He’s either going to tip nothing and smile, oblivious to the enemy he’s just made of the bartender and the next beer he will never get. Or he’s going to massively overtip everyone out of embarrassment/ignorance/a desire to be accepted. Like when he tips the homeless man or the Starbucks barista 20 bucks for a cuppa. Who orders tea at Starbucks? Your boyfriend.
6. He drinks tea, duh.
I think of tea as a sick-person beverage. Or something you buy — and never drink — after reading an article in Health magazine about how good green tea is for you. Go ahead and try to give him some. He’ll look at it with contempt. He drinks some fancy English Breakfast type. Pots of it. From dawn till bedtime. Basically, it’s just black tea, but don’t offer him Lipton. He’ll think you’re intellectually inferior. If you want to have some real fun, watch his head explode when you tell him you don’t own a kettle, and he’ll have to use the microwave.
7. He’s overly polite.
He thanks the officer for his parking ticket, apologizes for not smoking when someone asks for a light, and tells his stylist he likes his new haircut even though he doesn’t. He calls this being civilized. You call it something else, and ask him to look over this article. He suggests you write ‘Signs you’re a solipsistic, egomaniacal American strumpet and how that affects your foreign friends and lovers’ instead.
8. He’s a brilliant drinking buddy.
His idea of Sunday breakfast is a pint. Gin and Pimm’s have been added to your liquor cabinet. Lazing in the back garden on a sunny summer afternoon with one or the other is the perfect way to wind down your day. He loves his Pimm’s. You’re still wondering what all the fuss is about. The gin, though, that you can get behind.
9. You now eat weird sounding things.
Toad in a hole, spotted dick, bubble and squeak, roly poly. I know, right? Then there’s the food that is totally not what it sounds like it should be. Why does your boyfriend insist the Yorkshire pudding be ready in time for dinner? Surely, you eat pudding for dessert. Oh, that’s right… it’s not fucking pudding at all. It’s more like a biscuit. And, no, I don’t mean in the ‘cookie’ sense. Most of the time, though, your boyfriend will just pour a can of Heinz baked beans over some toast and declare it a work of culinary genius. At least you can now pronounce Worcestershire sauce correctly.
10. You’ll never wear a fanny pack again.
Not that you’d ever wear a fanny pack anyway, but now you’ll not wear it for entirely different reasons.
11. You’ve traded in football, baseball, and basketball for football, rugby, and cricket.
But are things really all that different? Maybe you didn’t know the exact rules for American football, baseball, and basketball. Well, now you get to not know the exact rules for what everyone else calls football, rugby, and cricket. Instead of wearing that Cowboys jersey your American ex got you for your birthday, you get to wear the Arsenal jersey your British boyfriend got you for your birthday. Instead of Sam Adams, you’ll have an Old Speckled Hen.
Then there’s all that new offensive profanity you’ll be subjected to. You’ll become desensitized to the “C word” after hearing it used so many times to berate coaches, refs, and players of the Premier League, whatever that is. Not from your loving boyfriend, of course, but from his hooligan mates. You may even accidentally use it once amongst friends while talking about some a-hole at the office. This will be met with shocked silence. They’re not British.
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