Now I’ll Never Know If That Guy Is British

After many, many years of commuting into Boston on the train, tomorrow commences my new driving to the suburbs commute. In truth, I’m largely indifferent to the switch as there are good and bad aspects to both driving and taking the train.

However, the one devastating aspect of the commute switch is that I’ll never figure out if that guy is British or not. And it’s tough to give up on such an important project after four or five years of committed work.

People might think that a project dedicated to determining a stranger’s Britishness is both stupid and unnecessary. “Stupid” because I could just ask the guy if he’s British – but in my mind that’s cheating. “Unnecessary” because at this late date who really cares if someone is British? It’s not the 60s – the Brits aren’t really doing anything notable except for marrying off their second-rate comedians to our second-rate pop stars. (Editor’s note: confirm whether Russell Brand is really British or just stares like that because he’s an animatronic robot.)

Since the project is all but cancelled I might as well share my findings to date:

PRO: he’s tall and skinny. One might say he’s lanky. Brits are definitely lanky, while Americans tend to be fat. I’m not criticizing Americans for being fat. In fact, among my people, being fat is a sign of success and great power. (Please note that “my people” are fat Americans.)

CON: he has not worn any soccer scarves or called soccer “footie”, even during the Official Premier League P.G. Tips Championship Bowl season. Then again, if I was a Brit trying to fit in with Americans the first thing I would do is stop pretending that soccer is a sport for grown ups.

PRO: he wears a lot of fleece and off-colored socks. I’m not sure what it is with the Europeans and the off-colored socks but they definitely struggle with the basic “wear white socks with sneakers, but only with sneakers” rule. If he is British he probably calls his socks “stockings” and has street urchins darn them for him. Alas, I have not seen any urchins darning in his presence.

CON: he’s never once hummed a Rod Stewart song, talked about Rod Stewart, or worn an air-brushed jean jacket with Rod Stewart on the back. If I was British I’m pretty sure that all I’d ever talk about is Rod Stewart because Rod Stewart is clearly the greatest person ever to come out of the British empire. (Editor’s note: confirm that Roderick is of English and Scottish descent and that his birthday is January 10th and that he still hasn’t written back.) Admittedly I’m not sure if Brits love Rod as much as I do, but I really, really love Rod and would be outwardly proud to come from the same country as him.

I should probably confess that it isn’t entirely true that I’ve never tried to directly ascertain if he was British. Once at the hockey rink I hovered around him and his kids hoping he would yell at them, seeing how we all yell at our kids at the hockey rink (it’s cold and crowded and kids are stupid). But he never said a word, which might actually indicate Britishness (Brits don’t yell at their kids in public. They have the kid’s governess take away their figgy pudding as punishment for bad behavior.)

I should also probably confess that one day on the train I saw him sitting alone and I plopped my fat, definitely-American ass next to his skinny, probably-British arse, in the hopes that he’d call his wife or talk to the conductor. Once again, he never said a word. I pushed my luck further when the conductor announced the wrong train line and I said something hee-larious like “I hope that’s not where we’re going!!” and he just grunted in response (again, a very British rejoinder.)

So there you have it. I’m off the train and now I’ll never know if that guy is British. I mean, in my heart I know he’s British, but confirmation would have been nice.

Then again, he’s probably relieved that the creepy red guy has apparently disappeared from his life. It’s funny how one man’s scientist is another man’s stalker.


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