The Writing Traveler: Fording the Pond
April 14, 2021
Churchill was right all along. The United States and Great Britain are two nations divided only by a common language.
We long ago mastered the art of packing light for our travels.
So one of the main things we always want to find out is where to wash our clothes when we’re on the road.
On one of our early visits to England, we sought such information from a young woman at a “Tourist Information Centre.” They often are there in “Town Centre.” They are marked with an “i.”
She spoke the King’s English.
We talked Texan.
There is a discernible difference.
Whole bunch o’ difference.
Fixin’ to Texan.
See the problem?
We both talked with our eyes, hands, body language.
We seemed to be talking right past each other.
Seemingly, she was on that side of The Pond, we were still on The Colonies side of The Pond.
Way, way, way back on this side of The Pond.
Way, way out in West Texas, “sum-eres” where the tumbleweeds tumble at will. And at won’t.
Seemed like we were wading around, maybe even underwater, in The Pond, confused, directionless.
Still in Texas.
We would say, “washateria.”
She would smile, then shrug.
Mentally, we reached for our Texan thesaurus.
We kept at it for a while.
She was the epitome of patience.
Finally, we made motions as if washing clothes on a rub board.
Remind me to someday show you my rub board moves.
Promise not to laugh.
They’re reminiscent of the Great Depression.
Ah, she finally said:
Or, maybe it was, “laundrette,” without the first “e.”
But “laundrette” was close enough.
Got the message across.
Ah, we said.
We momentarily thought about responding with:
But our best Texas smile seemed to suffice.
Smiles often work where words don’t.
Pond or no Pond.
Communication success! Why, we just ‘bout tumped over with rip-roarin’ joy.
Pleased as punch.
Happy as a houn’-dog pup, we were.
Anyway, Churchill (and others) was right.
We are two nations divided only by a common language.
Get the notion Churchill came to that conclusion after crossing paths with some Texans.
Maybe even some of my kin.
Something similar happened one day when we stopped at a British bakery.
In our best Texanese, we asked for English Muffins.
The nice lady behind the counter did not understand.
Here we go again.
Proper, King’s English vs. Texanese.
Guess who wins.
We kept doing out best, “talking” with our hands, eyes, body language.
Our best Texanese.
Finally, she smiled, exclaimed:
“Oh, you mean Yankee Splits!”
Roger Summers is the author of The Kite That Touched Heaven. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.