Going through life with a puppy…

TR001664I wanted to post this earlier, but was waiting for Lent to end. Tom Cowell, a British comedian married to an American woman, reflects – in the wake of the news of the split between Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin – on the advantages and challenges of a bicultural marriage. I  found the following both amusing and thought-provoking:

Americans are so wonderfully, sincerely down-to-earth, we have trouble believing it. To the cynical British mind, any genuine pleasure in meeting a new person is a sign of potential mental illness. But Americans actually want to make new friends. They want to get along with you, stranger. It makes one’s life infinitely more interesting to have an American around, because you meet EVERYONE. It’s like permanently going through life with a puppy, or the latest iPhone.

To be sure, Mr Cowell is exaggerating for effect, but one of the things I most love about Americans is their openness and sheer zest for life. Let Europe be cynical.  Let’s hear it for friendship!



  1. Simon says

    Ha ha. I don’t think I need to say here that, God forgive me, my days of puppy-ish exuberance are long gone. Vive la cynicism! (Or is it le? French grammar lessons welcomed.)

    More seriously, we are all different and are products of our cultures and upbringing. Thank God for the diversity.

  2. Lynda says

    The Words of Wisdom when I read this post:
    “”Man is born broken. He lives by mending.
    The grace of God is glue.”
    Anne Lamott (Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith)

    For me these words and the post are connected in a very real way. As we befriend others we bring them joy and receive joy ourselves even if it is only a brief encounter. There was such a brief encounter in the grocery store a few days ago as another woman and I reached for the roll of plastic bags in the fruit section at the same time. I told her to go ahead and she smiled broadly and said that she was so fortunate to have met me and I responded that it was a blessing for me as well. Then we spoke for a couple of minutes about cooking Easter dinner and we both went on our way having been touched by the grace of God.

  3. says

    I think it’s George Bernard Shaw who said that British and American people are separated by a common language…
    When I first met Americans (as in US, because Latin Americans also consider themselves Americans :-) through my husband-to-be some 40+ years ago, I found them very friendly indeed. I missed a depth of conversation, however, as if we always remained on the surface. Since then, I have found a few Americans with whom I can go deep deep deep. Maybe it’s just that it’s easy to be friendly, but true friends are not so easy to come by…
    Just wondering.
    Foreign friends are a perfect door into cultural understanding. Still, after all these years of living in different places, I still get hit by culture shocks…

    • Denise J says

      Claire — I have had some similar experiences. Culture shock affects even the most seasoned of professional expatriates, sometimes at the most unlikely of moments.

      I don’t think we Americans are any less likely to have deep meaningful conversations and friendships than other folks; I just think it takes a lot longer to develop trust when there are cultural boundaries. Between not wanting to give offense (or take it), and searching for common ground and language, it just takes a lot more time. But it is, as you note, so well worth it!

    • Dolly says

      I agree with you, Claire. I find the Americans very friendly on the surface level – meaning. as far as greeting you, conversing with you, laughing with you, for as long as it is on the so-called “acquaintance” level. They are warm as acquaintances and may be supportive of you, too. But I find that most Americans are too obsessed with their privacy so it takes time to really gain their trust. I love my American friends whom I have known on a gut-level-sharing for the past forty years in the States, and there are just a handful of them.

  4. Emma says

    Wow! I just read the whole article, then the comments. You’d never think afterwards that Americans are friendly! What was meant as humor got all twisted into a “war on women “! Yikes!!

      • Dolly says

        How sad when free expression of opinions are deemed as hostile. I think this blog affords its readers to express honest, but not necessarily, inimical opinions. My American acquaintances all those years were and are puppies, so are my dearest friends.

        • Emma says

          Just to clarify : I was speaking re. Mr Cowell’s article and yes it is quite sad that the responses on that site took what he intended as humor and were offended by it.

  5. says

    A fascinating little excerpt (when I have more time, I’ll click on and read the whole thing).

    When I lived in Europe ages ago, I found that what Americans intended to be seen as friendliness was interpreted by some (not all) Europeans as superficiality. I remember some of myEuropean friends saying that they didn’t understand how Americans could really be so nice and open with everyone … it couldn’t possibly be genuine. :)

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