Why Americans are so Weird!
I don’t even think that’s necessarily a bad thing. To me, weirdness is an interesting thing. The quirks in this country are what make it an exciting place to visit and live. Besides, we are not the only culture that has it’s own set of unique behaviors. I truly believe that every society on this planet has a unique and distinctive personality that separates it from the rest of the world. That’s why so many people travel. They love to explore a new way of life and understand a new way of thinking.
But, while some cultural differences are fun, some can be just plain old WEIRD. That’s why I have created this list of 26 reasons why Americans are so weird. I want to prepare travelers mentally for some of the American traditions that they just won’t understand (It’s okay. I don’t get some of these things either).
However, my American brethren will not be shocked at all. In fact, they will probably laugh their ass off in agreement (thats ‘s what I’m hoping for) or shake their head in disagreement while thinking, “Hey, we’re not that weird.” Trust me, we are that weird and a lot of us just don’t even know it. So, follow me into the American world of manic mayhem, and prepare for a fun, and funny, cultural ride.
1. Food portions here are enormous.
I’m gonna keep it real with you. In the United States, we eat doughnuts by the box, not by the doughnut (One word, Entenmann’s doughnuts) . That’s just kind of how we roll. If you’re wondering why, it’s because in America, bigger is ALWAYS better. I mean, look at the size of the drinks we serve at movie theaters. One large drink contains enough fluid to clean an entire load of laundry! Or how about the Cheesecake Factory (If you haven’t been, it’s insane and you need to go)? At this restaurant, one entree has enough calories to feed an entire family… for three days! That doesn’t even include the items on the novel-esq dessert and appetizer menus. No wonder Americans tend to lean towards the chubby side of life.
2. We bring food home, all the time.
Since portions here are totally out of control, Americans like to bring food home from restaurants all the time (Yes, sometimes Americans can’t even eat everything on their plate). We call it, “leftovers” and they are good. Very good. They wistfully remind me of my youth. When I was a child, I bounded out of bed on a crisp, Saturday morning, and raced into the kitchen. Quickly, I unwrapped my leftovers from their aluminum prison, and popped them into the microwave. Impatiently, I listened to the melodic hum of the machine as my leftover Chinese food spun around and around, awash in a luminous glow. Once I heard the distinctive ding of the timer, I knew my Saturday morning, breakfast ritual could commence (My mom was not a morning person so if I woke her up, I had to be near death. Another reason why leftovers were so awesome in my house. If you were wondering, that was supposed to be overly dramatic). So yes, leftovers are pretty important in the United States.
3. We don’t do the metric system.
Why oh why do we not use the metric system? The entire world uses kilometers, liters, kilograms, Celsius, and I’m over here like, “What are they talking about?” I simply have no frame of reference for these measurements. Even now, when someone says 20 degrees Celsius, I don’t know if that is a subarctic temperature or a surface of the sun temperature. Do I need a parka or a bikini? Someone help me!! It all baffles me and I don’t like it. This measurement debacle doesn’t even address the fact that we don’t use military time. When I am abroad, I still have to subtract 12, after one o’clock, just to figure out what time it is, and even then I can still get confused. On America, how you vex me so.
4. We LOVE American Football.
I know, it’s weird. It’s called football and they don’t even kick the ball with their feet (only at kickoff,punts, or for field goals). The game is also rather complicated, and the only reason I enjoy it is because my family indoctrinated me from an early age. Otherwise, I would probably be just as confused as the rest of the world.
5. We call the American baseball finals the, “World Series”.
Hmmm. Here’s a riddle for you. How can we call it the world series, when only American baseball teams play? Wouldn’t the world series actually be the Olympics, since all the baseball teams in the world compete in this event? Are we that egotistical? Yes, we probably are. Now leave me alone, I am yelling at someone for not speaking English in China (just kidding)!
6. Tipping requires a Calculus degree.
Foreign Friend: How much should I tip on the bill?
Me: Let me take a look. Oh, it’s easy! Carry the one, divide by the square root of pi, subtract 12, cube that number, add 7, etc…
Foreign Friend: (Jaw on the floor and just sitting there, in stunned silence)
But the best and weirdest part of all is that we tip for everything! Waiters, hairdressers, nail salons, taxi drivers, valets, coat checkers, etc. all get tips. So no matter what you do when you visit, you get to take part in the American tipping fun (about 12,000 separate times). Yippee! Welcome to the United States!
7. Air conditioning ALL the time.
It may be summer, but in America, we never leave the house without a fleece or a heavy sweatshirt. You may be wondering why we need jackets when the temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit (Sorry, I’m American and really don’t know the conversion to Celsius)? Well, that’s because no matter where you go, the air-conditioning is always cranked up to deep freeze. So while it may be summer outside, inside the building will feel like the middle of Siberia. So bring your winter clothes and layer up in the summer Just pretend you’re the main character from Frozen and you’ll be just fine (Let it go!).
8. Ice water ALL the time.
It could be a blizzard outside and you will still get ice in your water. Why? No one knows. It’s a custom that is just as mysterious
as the Bermuda Triangle. I guess we just don’t like room temperature water. Besides, we take everything to the extreme in America. Now, where did I park my Hummer in the Super Walmart parking lot? I think it’s in section 24-d (Yup. Our parking lots, stores, and cars are that BIG).
9. Enormous Cars
That Hummer, I just mentioned, which looks like a military vehicle and gets about 15 miles to the gallon? Yeah, that vehicle has been adopted by mom’s driving their kids around. I mean, you never know when you might run into a Grizzly Bear walking through a Target parking lot, in the suburbs of Florida. You laugh, but it could happen!
10. Public transportation is a joke.
I live in the suburbs of New York, and you can take the train into the city, or between towns, but that’s about it. We do have buses, but the schedules for those are really suggestions. So, if you take a bus, you don’t know when it will actually arrive and when you will actually get to your final destination. That’s why we all drive our really big cars everywhere. If I didn’t own a car, I could not have a job right now, and I live right outside New York City (not exactly the middle of no where). So yes, that’s how bad public transportation is here (Sorry, we just don’t do public transportation here. Super bitter about this one. It’s an insurance company conspiracy I tell you!).
11. The Prom
The prom is a BIG deal here. You have to buy the dress (the dress is picked out months in advance because you need to find the best one and want to have the best selection), rent the limo, get the corsage, do your hair, get your makeup and nails done, etc. Oh, and I almost forgot. You need a date! And people really do ask people to prom in elaborate ways, like renting a barber shop quartet to sing out a prom invitation (Okay. Maybe not THAT extreme but you get the idea). Prom is one of the highlights of our high school careers. Almost like a precursor to graduation (unless you have a junior prom too). For me, prom was kind of awkward. I caught my date making out with another girl in the limo, but I’ve moved on (Written as I sob breathlessly into my pillow. Thank goodness blog posts don’t show tear stains).
12. Wearing gym clothes all day is socially acceptable (or pjs, or flip-flops).
This is so me. I work with an infant all day and she spits up on a lot, so I love to wear comfy clothes that I don
‘t mind getting dirty. Actually, what am I talking about? I love elastic waistbands and wear them even when I’m not nannying. They’re just so comfy, and I just can’t stop! I opt for comfort over fashion everyday. So yes, I am a total American weirdo.
13. Talking extremely loudly.
Yup, I am totally like this. I talk extremely loudly, even by American standards, and don’t even know that I’m doing it. I even caught myself doing this at a tea shop this weekend. I literally had to stop what I was saying because everyone was staring at me and giving me the evil eye. I guess it was because I was talking about you know what (wink, wink. nudge, nudge). Not really tea parlor talk I suppose. Sorry guys! Next time I will try to leave my built in megaphone at home.
14. Baby showers, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, engagement parties, house warming parties, retirement parties, etc.
We have a party for EVERYTHING. You broke a nail? Let’s throw you a party! You got a B on a math test? Let’s celebrate! You got
mugged? Great, let’s throw a, “you survived” party! Now, this may all sound fun, until you buy gifts for all these parties. Usually, you have to go onto their gift registry and buy them present that get super expensive, super quickly. I will go online and try to buy one diaper for a friend’s baby shower, and the computer will say $12.95. At that moment I want to either throw my computer out of the window or punch it in the face. Instead, I just take a deep breath and kiss my weekly paycheck goodbye (Sigh. Parting is such sweet sorrow).
15. “How are you?” really means, “Hello.”
Oh, you thought I really wanted to know how you are feeling? That’s so cute! Haha, no one cares (just kidding). But when someone says, “How are you?” they are typically using it as a greeting and expect, “Fine thanks. How are you?” in response. When you try and respond with a discussion of your deep seated, emotional turmoil over you ineffective relationship with your distant mother, and we will run away faster than you can say Twinkie. It’s kind of like, “Well, I had friends in the United States, but then they asked me, ‘how are you?’ So, I told them the truth and then they all vanished. All I heard were crickets chirping and I was all alone.” But now you know so you can hold onto your American minded friends (It’s not that bad, but sometimes it seems like it).
16. Advertisements for prescription drugs.
No joke, you turn on the TV and no matter what show you are watching, you see a commercial for some random medication that you NEED to ask your doctor about. Have bubonic plague? We have a pill for that! Intestinal parasites? No problem, we have a gel for that! And it’s not just for serious conditions either. Commercials will literally say, “Do you have dry, itchy eyes? Well, talk to your doctor about lexipropobenzyne (I made that up).” On top of that, the commercial lists the 10,000 potential side effects of the medication they are hawking. You know, fun things like loss of hearing, DEATH, risk of stroke, DEATH, weight gain, heart palpitations, and oh yeah, DEATH. It’s like they brainwash you into thinking that you have contracted every medical condition under the sun. I mean, by the time you finish an American television show, you’ll end up diagnosing yourself with Swine Flu, Measles, and dry itchy skin. But don’t worry, we have loads of random medications for that (and they’re all in 2 liter bottles so you’ll never run out!).
17. Smiling at strangers (Not everywhere).
I live in New York, so we do not do this here. We stare at the ground, walk fast, put on our headphones, and pray that no one talks to us. But I have been to areas of the United States where people are super friendly, and it creeped me out. One guy in San Francisco offered to help me with my bag, and that was a big mistake. I actually thought he was trying to steal my luggage, so I yelled at him and told him I had mace in my purse. Two minutes later, he carried my bag down the stairs, after I apologized profusely and bequeathed my first born child to him (Just kidding. I don;t think he would want any future babies of mine anyway).
18. Red solo cups for parties.
I remember red solo cups very well. We used to drink out of them at parties all the time. We would also use them to play games like flip cup and beer pong. But those experiences were the poor decisions of a misspent youth. Now, I only use a red solo cup when I need to drink water with the 50 mediations that my doctor ordered me, after I saw all those commercials on TV.
19. We talk about food, ALL the time.
So true! No matter what we do, it usually revolves around where we are going to eat next. I mean, what else do you do with your friends besides go out to dinner or brunch or high tea or coffee or mid-morning snack? Come on guys. A life without food is no life at all (We know this one is weird
and call ourselves “foodies” to make ourselves feel better. That’s why we love cooking shows like Top Chef! LoL)!
20. Gaps between the doors of restrooms.
Wait, shut the front door! You mean not every country has huge gaps in between their bathroom doors (gaps that effectively make the door useless because you can see everything anyway)? Wow. You guys are so weird!! Just kidding. I have noticed this too and it grosses me out because I already have an idea of what people are doing in the bathroom. I really don’t need to see it too. Sarcastic thanks goes out to the weirdos who designed public bathroom stalls in the United States (and if someone you know designs public bathrooms, I love the bathrooms here! They’re the best!).
21. The price of college.
Oh, you want to go to college? That will be $100, 000 for one semester. Also, don’t forget the 26 loans
that you will need to take out to cover room and board. What? You wanted to become debt free in your lifetime? Hahaha. That’s the funniest joke I’ve ever heard. You know what they say, “You’re not living until you’re living a life of soul crushing debt.” Just kidding! I am exaggerating here. You actually may be able to pay off your undergraduate loans by the time you’re 65, so no need to worry.
22. Over sweetening and over salting EVERYTHING.
Wait, you mean every
one in the world doesn’t put four packets of Equal in their coffee? Who knew? I am totally guilty of this by the way. As a self-proclaimed sugar addict, I actually carry around packets of Equal with me. This way, I never run out and can always make beverages as sweet as I want them (without the judgement of a waitress who needs to refill the sugar caddy like 5 times). So yes, I am a total WEIRDO.
Yeah. I guess not everyone in the world wants to see sexy women dancing around in tops that are too small for them, while wearing shorts that resemble underwear more than any item of clothing I’ve ever seen. Oh, and you can’t forget the cheering, while gyrating to inappropriate music, and waving pompoms in the air ( pompoms that don’t actually do anything by the way). Come on world, what’s not to love? Yeah. I am not a fan of cheerleaders, but believe it or not, the United States actually has national high school cheerleading championships. I only know because my school went once, which was exciting since our American football team was terrible.
I actually didn’t realize this was a weird American thing, until someone pointed it out to me (my British friend who abruptly told me, “No. That’s weird). But apparently, we are the only people who purchase shirts with the name of a city, country, state, or town on it. Well, if you can’t remember where you are,
just find your nearest, friendly American and read their shirt. Their shirt can be your guide! (To defend myself, I purchased that Sweden sweatshirt because my bag got stolen and I had nothing to wear! Fine, I am just super weird and American and need to accept that. This is one of those strange traditions that was instilled in me throughout my whole life).25. Everyone has a therapist (or a doctor for every single part of their body).
25. We have a doctor (or therapist) for EVERYTHING.
You have a body part, we have a doctor for it! Oncologists, psychologists, pharmacologists, rheumatologists, proctologists, optometrists, dermatologists, etc. You name it, we got ’em all! In America, you are so busy going to doctor’s appointments that you couldn’t possibly work. And that doesn’t even include your therapist. I mean, who else would you talk to about your emotional problems? Why tell a friend when you can pay someone $200 an hour to listen to all of the emotional scars from your childhood (Therapy is not just for adults either. Most of my friends already had a therapist by the time they started high school).
26. Over apologizing
Oh my God, I am so sorry I saved this one for last. Do you hate me? Please don’t say you hate me! I’ll get you a pony if you promise not to be angry with me! Yeah, need I say more?