Welcome to my world of cultural blunders. I've lived in the UK for almost 8 years, and I still make them (and I will share more in future posts). Here's a little snippet from a few weeks ago when I took my kids to a fast food restaurant. Me: Alright kids what do you want?
Kids: Cheeseburger. Chicken nuggets.
Me: Yes, I would like two (I put two fingers up to show the lady) meals. One cheese burger and one with chicken nuggets.
Kids: You just swore at the lady!
Lady cashier: (Just looks at me with slight horror and blushes).
Me: Oh. Sorry.
I keep forgetting that if you hold two fingers up in a certain way, it's considered an obscene gesture. The equivalent of giving 'the finger' in the US (maybe even worse). Oops.
But it works the other way. When my kids were both under three, I took them to a weekly 'Mums and Tots' group led by a couple of sweet old ladies. Basically, it was a very long chaotic play time where we drank tea and moaned about our sleepless nights. Not exactly a spa day, but the kids liked it. It usually ended with the old ladies leading the kids in a song time.
I'll never forget the first time they led us in rousing chorus of a 'finger' song that, of course, in the third verse had the middle finger. I just about fell out of my chair stifling giggles as the proper old ladies raised their middle fingers high in the air, the same gesture that would have labelled them having road rage in the middle of a LA highway. They flipped me off with great enthusiasm.
Sigh. That's what it's like living in another country, and you get to learn these things the hard way. And I've learned to just laugh.
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