Wednesday, December 23, 2020

An unexpected question

I’m zooming through the frozen foods aisle when I hear a voice behind me:

“Are you [unintelligible]?”

Was he talking to me? I turned around to look. He pulled down his mask to speak. Jeez. I wanted to move on, and away.

“Uh, no,” I said, and turned back around.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any harm,” he said.

“Oh, I know,” I said, still moving forward. “I just wasn’t sure that you were talking to me.”

It wasn’t until I was in the next aisle that I realized what he had asked: “Are you from England?” He must have noticed my beret. I can’t think of another explanation.

[Okay, granted, it was a Kangol Anglobasque beret. But it looks like a beret, nothing Anglo- about it. But as a reader points out in the comments, there is something Anglo about a beret. But I still feel okay about having felt baffled.]

comments: 13

The Crow said...

Nice hat! Or, is it a cap? Nice looking chapeau, regardless.

Sean Crawford said...

As I dimly recall, the small army beret was adopted in WWII after two officers noticed uniformed school girls with wide French "berets." The colour of the Airborne trooop's berets, marooon, was adopted after a model, trying on colours, said he liked that colour best.

It normally has a lining for warmth, but troops normally remove it, in order to form their beret with more excruciating exactness.

I get a kick out of the variety Scottish headgear, each one named after a Scottish region. The French call Scottish troops pom poms, from how their headgear often includes a pom pom in the top centre.

In Canada, a French name for Englishmen, not just Scots, is hairy legs, from colonial times when Scots wore kilts. There is a province that is called in French New Scotland, although the English name is Latin, Nova Scotia.

Michael Leddy said...

Martha, in our household we usually call it a “parade.” It goes back to when our kids were quite young. My parade is dark navy.

Sean, I have to admit that I’d forgotten about the non-French military beret. So there is something Anglo- (and more than Anglo-) about it. I will still though feel justified in having felt a little baffled. :)

Geo-B said...

Possibly, you looked 70 % more contagious. As Lainie Kazan says to Peter O'Toole in My Favorite Year (1982), "Welcome to my chapeau."

Michael Leddy said...

A movie I’ve yet to see, but a joke I still get. :)

Fresca said...

Oh, I just posted a French cartoon of a "chat peau"!
Funny he didn't ask, "Are you French?"

Once at IKEA's cafeteria, a woman asked bink if she were Swedish.
We couldn't figure out why, in particular, unless it was that bink was cutting her food with her fork in her left hand, "upside down" (by US standards).

Michael Leddy said...

Is that a Swedish thing? I always cut my food with fork to the left. Better control!

I do sometimes get “So you’re a professor?” (Is it that obvious?) When I took the kids to meet Mr. McFeely (David Newell) at a PBS station many years ago, the first thing he said was “So you teach at the university?”

Fresca said...

It's European, isn't it, to hold your fork in the left hand?

At any rate, it's not normal Midwestern practice in my experience
--you always hold the fork in your right hand, kinda like a pitchfork!

Michael Leddy said...

Oh, wait — could it be that bink wasn’t switching her fork back to the right? Here’s something that might explain it.

Sean Crawford said...

Yes, it's European to not bother switching the fork. My whole family was taught to eat that way, fork remaining in the left hand. Now that other North Americans just think I'm left handed. Mamma told us that during the war, spies being dropped to the continent had to be taught to use their forks European style.

Michael Leddy said...

My wife and I spent a good chunk of time at lunch figuring out what in fact we do with our cutlery. She does European style, but she has no idea if she picked that up while living in Austria. I usually switch the fork back.

The article I linked to mentions a couple of movies in which cutlery style becomes a plot twist.

Frex said...

That's it. As I let the memory form in my mind, I think the woman who asked bink if she were Swedish even said something about the way she held her fork...

The setting matters, of course--it was IKEA, near the Mall of America, where people from all over the world come. So not unlikely that a Swede would be sitting in the cafeteria there (to recover from culture shock/jet lag?)

Thanks for the article!
--Frex = Fresca (you know)

Michael Leddy said...

I’m going to have to watch Elaine more carefully — she even uses her knife to direct food onto her fork. Pretty un-American!