My friend, Katherine, and her family, crossed the Atlantic this summer for a two year stint in the Mother Country. Moving to The Old Barn at Northwood Hall went a long way in acclimating them to life on the island.
They wear their Wellies everywhere, rain or expected rain. They diligently study the game of cricket, learning the stump, bail, wicket, and laying the pitch. And though they decline any meal with boiled meat, they do eat fish and chips frequently and accept every invitation for tea and biscuits.
Efforts at assimilation aside, however, Katherine can't help thinking American thoughts. She went to the butcher last week to place an order for a turkey. "Ma'am," he politely redirected (at least she thought he said it politely, but the English accent easily hides disgust), "wouldn't you rather get a goose?"
"No," she explained, "I need a turkey ... for Thanksgiving."
"Thanksgiving?" He raised his eyebrows. "It's just like you Yanks to run home after you desperately wanted to leave and rub it in our faces that you haven't starved to death, yet."
Flustered, and shooting from the hip, she smiled kindly, hoping to disarm the butcher, and replied, "It is our tradition, you know."
"Indeed," he sighed. "How large would you like your bird?"
"We have several people joining us, so I need a tom around 20 pounds."
"Does that mean you want to pay 20 pounds or that you want it to weigh 20 pounds? One would think you rebels could at least join the rest of the world and learn the metric system," the butcher accused, still sounding friendly.
"One would think," Katherine agreed, and advised him to prepare a turkey equivalent to 20 pounds in weight.
"Alive or dead," he then asked, business-like. Katherine stared at him for a moment, processing. The Brits have a dry sense of humor. She and her husband had watched hours of BBC television to accustom themselves to the wit of their new culture.
So, Katherine started laughing. "Shall I bring a cage to gather it, then?"
When the shop owner did not return her mirth, she noticed him straightening his toupee and checking his teeth. He hadn't made a joke after all. She logged a mental note to watch more BBC, and, looking down to smooth her skirt in an attempt to surreptitiously stifle her merriment, choked out, "As fresh as possible, but dead, please."
Trying to keep his patience, he queried if Katherine would like it dressed and stuffed, which she declined.
"Well you have a glugglenuthin," he assumed.
"I don't know what you're saying, so I guess I probably don't," she timidly answered.
To emphasize her traitorous idiocy, he exclaimed, "Well you do know you have to pluck the feathers, don't you?"
She stammered, "Feathers? I don't want it with feathers! I just want a turkey to cook."
"I guess you don't want the head either, then," he quipped.
"I beg your pardon sir," she said, mimicking Old World arrogance, "I wish to order a large, featherless, headless, dead turkey to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. I will arrive on the 22nd, without a cage, hatchet, glugglenuthin, or leash, to collect it."
"Yes, ma'am. I'll have it ready," he retreated like a Redcoat. He forced himself to say, "I do hope you and your American friends enjoy a lovely Thanksgiving."
Katherine put on her best Virginia charm. "Why, bless your hahrt, dahlin', I failed to warn you." She paused, allowing her remark to register. Then she winked and taunted, "The British are coming!"