Having lived in the United States for a few months and travelling no further than San Francisco and Los Angeles, I feel confident enough to consider popularly held perceptions of its males to those of England.
The first American I met worked in a bar, and the most lingering memory of the States is the professionalism of its bartenders.
In the UK, bartenders face busy bars with a “Who’s next?” like someone exciting the crowd at a bear baiting. Of all people given responsibility to explore basic social etiquette, those competing for drinks shouldn’t make the list. American bartenders not only know who’s next to be served, but allow you to turn your back on them, to be alerted that it’s your turn with a gentle tap on the shoulder. No wonder they get tips; they bloody deserve them.
The American horseshoe bar is every bit as classically appealing as the English pub, while attracting a similar sort of barfly that prefers talking about doing things than ever actually doing them. However, the American man tends to drink 10 oz pints as opposed to full ones, and doesn’t need to ignore the irony in throwing foreign lager all over himself during patriot celebrations of St. George’s day while wearing red-flag hats made in China. This is a good thing, as no one in America understands irony or sarcasm. Mind you, you’re never further than an arm reach from the comfort blanket of a Stars and Stripes.
That’s not to say American men don’t enjoy drinking. It would appear their college years are spent learning or inventing increasingly idiotic drinking games called Beer Pong or Death Ball, presumably to distract from the tasteless American beer. These frat boys consider flunking as a badge of honour, preferring to habitually locking nerds in their high school locker before filling it with shaving cream, and overusing the words faggot or douchebag, while oblivious to the homoeroticism of constantly slapping one another on the back and doing moonies at passing traffic. America does brew decent beer, but I’m unsure anyone has told the typical male. The English drinking game consists of drinking lager until you fall over.
The US male need to drive an SUV with at least a V8 6 litre engine that shakes windowpanes from frames as it passes is something they never grow out of, and is a growing phenomena in the UK, despite requiring planning permission to park such super trucks in narrow Victorian streets. Reactions to being asked to perhaps drive a vehicle that isn’t single handedly reducing global oil supplies is met with derision suggesting that such consideration contravenes some God-given right to be a total dick.
Traditionally the young Englishman prefers a souped-up hatchback bought at auction approximately two hours after passing his driving test. It’ll have a rebored 1.1 engine and drilled exhaust pipe, which sounds like a Vulcan bomber following you, until a glance in the wing-mirror confirms it as a city runaround originally aimed at the senior market. Once he’s wrapped it around a few trees and survived, he buys a middle of the road family estate car and tuts at anyone going faster than the speed limit. That is, until the mid life crisis demands a powerful sports car he no longer has the instinctive ability to drive.
Interestingly, many American and English men share the same names. A glance at the top ten U.S. names is surprising; not a Chuck, Randy, or Butch in sight. Although it’s reassuring to know there are over 1.3 million Donalds, it’s not in the top ten, which consists of Michael, James, John and David, sounding like the roll call of King’s College Cathedral choir, or the potential line up of a Store Detective 5-aside football team.
Of course sport is where men most like to express themselves, or at least get overpaid haircut models to do it on their behalf, while sitting in La-Z-Boy chairs in permanent recline (or is it decline?). In the UK, there is a similar correlation between frequency of wearing tracksuits and the infrequency of doing any actual physical exercise.
Football is where differences between the nations are most pronounced. American football requires enough armour to necessitate cranes to lift them following a tackle, and pauses for TV ad spots at such regular intervals that mistimed blinking might result in home-viewers missing the entire match. It’s unclear if college football also stops every five minutes to sell local products, but watching it feels likes experiencing a game that has not yet worked out its own rules. English football has the advantage of being able to be played with nothing more than a wall and a ball, as opposed to requiring access to the Transformers movie prop cupboard.
The right to carry arms is of course another defining difference between the nations. The closest most English men get to carrying a firearm is a cigarette lighter, a biro or one of those inflatable green hammers while inexplicably celebrating St Patrick’s day. He also doesn’t get to say “bro” every five seconds, which would be a good thing were it not replaced with “mate”, as though life is a daily nautical reenactment. As to actual tea, most American males think it’s something to balance a golf ball on, while most Englishmen can’t start work unless they’ve drunk tea strong enough to stand the spoon in.
However, it’s not all bad for the U.S. male. He’s probably more inclined to pursue a 6-pack, than the English male’s contentment with a 4-pack, of strong lager and a takeaway curry, although the English do always have that accent with which to mesmerize American women to the extent that they’ll date any idiot with a plum in his mouth. However, in all likelihood, were the stereotypical American and English male meet they’d either hate each other, or be buddies, that’s friends, for life.
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