Five Hour Meal

One of the teaching assistants last week (not the irresponsible one) asked if I wanted to get something to eat tonight. Seeing as I’ve spent more time recently speaking to the rabbit than any one human being, I agreed to be sociable and meet her.

We went to a restaurant near my home. The first hour was good, the second was OK, by the third I was more than ready to leave, by the fourth I was considering stabbing one of my eyes out just to get out of there, and by the fifth I was on the verge of a total mental breakdown. She took five hours to eat some chicken and a fruit salad.

I must sound very intolerant. Afterall, it’s not unheard of to spend a whole evening in a restaurant. But she spent at least half  that time telling me in great detail about her pet subject – the differences between British and American English. The first time I met her, she asked ‘Do I sound British?’ I didn’t know what answer she wanted to hear, so I played it safe and said ‘You speak very clearly. You don’t sound too British or too American.’ This was the wrong answer.

Even after I had lost the will to live, even after I had started to become increasingly sweary and dismissive, even after I interrupted her mid-sentence to shout for the bill, even after I had told her that I didn’t care, she refused to finish picking at her rice and telling me about the different ways to say ‘tomato’. She asked again and again ‘Do I sound British?’, ‘How can I sound more British?’, ‘Would people think I was born in Britain?’

Of course, the whole notion of ‘British English’ means little more than putting a ‘u’ in the word ‘colour’. The differences in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary between, for example, the Queen and a typical Scot (such as my mother) screeching ‘Aye, laddy, where’s me fecking bastard heroin?’, renders the idea of  ‘British English’ meaningless. But that didn’t stop her talking about it for the most painfully long time, and returning to the subject at every opportunity.

In the end, after paying the bill some half an hour earlier and after seeing even the most unsubtle of hints go unnoticed, I just stood up while she was still eating, said it was time to go and frog-marched her to the subway station. It’ll be a long time before I accept another dinner invitation, that’s for sure.

EDIT: After cooling down a little, I re-wrote this post to remove most of the swearing and to slightly tone down the obnoxiousness.


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