Snippets from San Marcos
It may have been George Bernard Shaw who said that England and America are two countries divided by a common language. It’s both the differences and the similarities to British speech and custom that startle visitors to the US.
“You’d better not say Tow-marto when you’re in America, Granny,” said Cal Gal. “They don’t understand you, say tow-maydo.”
Gulp. Here in Southern California the Cleddau crew’s British accents and pronunciations are foreign then. “Hey, where d’you guys come from?” is frequently asked. Once at a diner a sandwich order request of tuna and tomato “with not a lot of cheese” somehow in translation became “with a lot of cheese…”
But a really odd thing is to hear foreign-sounding words coming out of the mouths of one’s own flesh and blood. Cal Guy Snr was advising on traffic directions and his use of the word “rowt” made the sense temporarily incomprehensible. Then understanding came – route, he was talking about the route! Then again, only the context brought comprehension of Cal Gal’s “Look, I can see a bue-ee, a bue-ee.“ Up on Point Loma she was gazing through a telescope at the sea, at what is the entrance to San Diego Harbor. The “bue-ee” is what seafarers in British waters would call a marker buoy…
However, it isn’t always a pronunciation issue. At an indoor trampolining park confusion reigned again: “Come and see me do slo-mo,” was the instruction. What could that mean? The answer dawned slowly – a camera records the bouncing person’s action in slow motion and replays it a few seconds later.
More recently there was chance to browse at an outlet mall. “Can I help you?” asked the courteous staff member. All was going well until she gestured to the left and added, in that very sing-songy Southern Californian tone, “and there’s our doorbusters.” Our what…? Apparently this is the word for highly discounted items.
On the day before Thanksgiving a last minute grocery run to the supermarket had to be made. The car park (parking lot) was much busier than usual although inside the store it felt no more crowded than on a mid-week visit to Sainsbury’s in the UK. There were flowers for Thanksgiving and huge piles of pumpkin pie ready for the holiday feasts. At the checkout a customer asked how busy it had been in the store. “Well, today was simply the busiest of oll,” came the reply… Decades back wouldn’t family members groan at the prospect of yet another “busiest day of the year”!
Black Friday, 28th November
The frenetic spending spree that is Black Friday in the US has hit the UK now. On each previous Thanksgiving visit here we have seen the Cal Clan members go out of their way to avoid all shops and shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. This year’s family activity on Black Friday was characterised by white -white surf. Cal Gal is a surf lover, so despite it being winter (though “it’s an Indian winter” as a parent at the water polo training session explained) it was off to Harbor Beach at Oceanside. Here Cal Guy Snr proved a great surf board porter for his sister…
and a good lunch at Ruby’s Diner. Though the life guard stations are not currently manned (it’s winter) there were surfers in the sea and toddlers on the swings.
There’d be just one more major outing to come, back down the freeways to Downtown San Diego. More on that next time…