Are You Alright? You’re Clutching Your Pants

More on accents and Englishisms

Every time I go out someone asks me if I’m alright. My New York cynicism makes me want to scream “Yes. Why are you talking to me get away.” While my self-conscious nature leaves me thinking “why? what’s wrong with me? don’t I look alright?” Finally I remember I’m in the country whose slogan is Keep Calm and Carry On because if you hear the way they talk you’d think they were all about to Panic and Freak Out. Saying ‘are you alright?’ is the same as ‘how do you do’ or more aptly ‘let me know if you need anything’ (in stores that is). It’s a friendly non-committal I’m here for you which is a little odd for a country that has a national hug allergy. It’s so cold here you’d think everyone would be cuddle together for warmth but English stoicism is more than a myth it’s a pandemic; which is exactly how I like people – reserved, sarcastic and emotionally repressed (I think all the English soldier moved to New York after the war).

I’ve just gotten used to their make me feel awkward greeting when I discovered a new foe, the word clutching. I don’t know why but it makes me feel like someone’s just called me out on showing up to class drunk. I was in a meeting the other day when someone abruptly stopped speaking and asked me ‘what are you clutching’. -it was a bottle. I wasn’t holding it for dear life or anything but I got this self-image of me quivering in a corner clutching the bottle and drooling in bug-eyed fear like a raccoon who found a hot dog with bun and ketchup in the trash (the holy grail of nocturnal dumpster diving) and was terrified the night foxes would tear me to pieces for it. Oh dear I think I’ve just shat my pants (panties… remember?… see we’re learning!)

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