Clueless Immigrant in an exciting adventure with midly diverting things he learnt this week
- “How peculiar, someone just smiled at me.”
Clueless Immigrant, hailing as he does from that damp and mouldy little island just northwest of Continental Europe, is like many of its sons and daughters an oddly phlegmatic sort for whom life is nothing but one awkward social encounter that must be navigated with as little embarrassment as humanely possible. A consequence of this is that Clueless can, at times, seem a little “off” or distant when put aside Americans. It’s not that Clueless is a complete and utter Eeyore (though others close to him may contest that point), it’s rather that he isn’t all that comfortable with dealing with strangers. More specifically, Clueless is not comfortable with strangers that seem to him to be overly familiar with him.
Being in America, this difficulty around strangers can cause a wee bit of a problem for Clueless, it’s one of those things that leaves him floundering and culturally discombobulated. It strikes Clueless that Americans, once you get out from the city centres (or centers if we want to be American) and into the ‘burbs, are on the whole a polite and friendly, almost puppy-ish people. Clueless has lost count the amount of time that he has gone for a wander and a passing pedestrian has said “hello” or “nice day to him” even though Clueless had up to then not engaged in eye-contact. Even more horrifying than someone saying “hello”, Clueless also finds that over here complete strangers are far more likely to engage him in conversation from a diverse topics ranging from what ice-cream flavours the stranger likes to minutia about the baseball team the stranger likes. Now it’s not that Clueless is rude, if anything he’s the sort of pleasant, unassuming type that willingly holds the door open for you, but this smiling at strangers and brief, meaningless chats constantly catch him off-guard. Whenever it happens, Clueless ‘s brain starts to go into overdrive. Firstly, he thinks, is this person ill? In Clueless’s world the sort of person who randomly starts talking at you is very probably medicated, and so it’s probably wisest if they’re avoided and not engaged with. In fairness, living for a time in Philadelphia this often proved useful advice to Clueless. If Clueless, however, feels he can discount that, then he goes on to his second thought: Oh God, where and how do I know this person? This, of course, causes intense inner squirming on Clueless’s part as he wonders if they’ve met previously because the person is chatting at them in a way that could suggest they’ve met Clueless before. Clueless proceeds to panic as he can’t for the life of him remember the person’s name and he ends up over-compensating too much by being far too chatty back. Clueless’s thinking is that even though he’s 99% sure he’s never met the person before it’s best to act like he has – just in case.
The end result of this American habit of unearned friendliness is that Clueless’s aim of going through life without any social mishaps or embarrassments is almost impossible. Even the most mundane of tasks can become a potential social minefield. Just this morning Clueless was in the produce section of his local supermarket when a woman who looked eerily like British actress Caroline Quentin smiled at him. Clueless, his English awkwardness rising at rapid speed, thought the following:
Is that Caroline Quentin smiling at me?
No. Caroline Quentin does not fly 6,000 miles to buy her milk, and if she did why would she be smiling at you?
Well, why is she smiling?
Is she a cougar with very low standards?
No, the smile is too friendly and not sultry enough.
She must know me from somewhere. We must have met.
Best say something friendly otherwise I’ll be thought of as rude.
So Clueless turned to the Caroline Quentin look-a-like, returned the smile, loudly proclaimed “hello, I’m buying beetroot!” and lifted the root vegetables he had in his hands to show her. The Caroline Quentin look-a-like stopped smiling.
- Groundhog Day
Rat comes out the ground and to its surprise find all of the media without any sense of priorities filming it rather than discussing the protests in Egypt.
It’s fair to say that Clueless doesn’t quite understand Groundhog Day. In fact, he thinks his Clueless sobriquet would be better applied not to himself but to the media that camps outside a groundhog’s burrow waiting for it to give them meteorological advice. It’s not even as if Punxsutawney Phil does anything exciting – he’s no waterskiing squirrel, for instance. Watching the media coverage of Groundhog Day, Clueless Immigrant found himself thinking back to his childhood. Back then when Clueless Immigrant was nothing more than a sprog of five or six he would play in the garden. Now this was something that the sprog’s father wasn’t too keen on. You see, Sprog (as we’ll call the young Clueless) in his childhood games of soccer or cricket had a tendency to destroy the flowers and plants that his father had been carefully and lovingly cultivating. At times it would be too much for Sprog’s father who would ask Sprog why the flowers had been flattened. Sprog, not being as foolish as the young George Washington who blabbed straight away over the Cherry tree incident, would claim complete innocence over the heinous crime of flattening flowers. Sprog’s father in these situations would look his lying son up and down, a look of disappointment in his eyes, before saying, “a little dicky bird told me you did do it, Sprog.”
Not being the sharpest of knives, Sprog was a little confused by this phrase, “a little dickie bird told me,” that his father kept saying. After thinking about it for some time, Sprog came to the only conclusion that made sense to him: some dick of a bird is spying and then telling my Dad.
Looking around the garden for who the vile Stasi-esque informer could be, Sprog decided that the obvious suspect was a particularly chippy starling that was nesting in an apple tree. Looking at the starling, Sprog just knew that he was the shifty sort who would sell Sprog out to his father without a moment’s hesitation. once he’d figured this out, Sprog behaved a little differently when playing in the garden. Yes, he would still play soccer and cricket, but he would first check if he could see if the starling was in the apple tree. If the starling was there, then Sprog would be careful to play in an area of the garden out of view of the apple tree and its shifty starling.
Thinking he’d done diligent work of not being seen by the starling, it was to Sprog’s great annoyance that a few days later his father started telling him off.
“You’ve been trampling over the flowers again.”
“No, I haven’t,” said Sprog.
“Well, a little dickie bird has told me otherwise.”
This was too much for Sprog. “Don’t listen to the starling, Dad! It’s all lies. He doesn’t know anything. I bet he’s the one who’s been trampling on your flowers – not me.”
Sprog’s father looked down at his son and took a big sigh. In his eyes he had that same look of disappointment as he’d had when he’d first told him not to trample the flowers. Why’s my son such a moron, he thought, and proceeded to explain carefully to Sprog about idiomatic expressions and that the starling wasn’t really spying on him.
Sprog, now older but not wiser, as Clueless Immigrant feels that perhaps the US news media needs someone to take their hand and explain carefully that, perhaps, Groundhog Day is a load of old bollocks and they need to grow up a bit.