Back in Atlanta, after a four-month sojourn in England (ahem Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove), I am finally making a concerted effort to settle into post. Not that I'm moaning about my new life in the US of A. Perish the thought.
However, unlike Bangkok, I shall NOT be attending any expat themed social functions in Atlanta. I made the mistake, some months ago, of signing up to a newsletter, and have been inundated with invitations to expat themed functions in Atlanta and its immediate environs ever since. I haven't bothered to reply to any of them. And I even tried to get myself removed from the mailing service, with no such luck whatsoever. I can't even remember why I signed up to the bloody thing in the first place. Was I drunk? No, I gave up drinking in 2010. Was it a moment of weakness? Yes, it must have been something like that.
Partying with the Contessa, British Embassy, Bangkok (2007)
Anyway, why would I want to mix with expat Brits in Atlanta? I had my fill of them, and then some, back in sweaty old Thailand. And the English class thing always gets in the way of being pals with Brits overseas. As soon as you open your mouth with an English person, they know, or think they know, where you are coming from. Because of my uber sophisticated background and fine education, they NEVER think that I am from Liverpool. And, when I declare that I am, they think that I am fibbing. Why would I lie about coming from one of the poorest and most deprived cities in Western Europe? When in company, I soon learned not to volunteer my origins as such. Best say that I'm from London, and leave it at that.
Boozed up Yank: my Dad (1978)
Lest I forget, I am overseas, in America, the land of my forefathers, to learn about America - not hang about in English themed pubs talking about Premier League football with boozed up Brits. If truth be told, I met far too many English scumbags living in South East Asia than I ever did back home in Blighty itself. Killers. Rapists. Paedophiles. Drug Addicts. Scumbags every man jack. Take your pick, I met them all, and then some, at my last port of call. Thank Heavens I am not meeting any of that sort here in America.
Dangerous Species: my Dad (1958)
Which brings me to the indigenous population, the American, the most dangerous species of human being in the western hemisphere... how am I getting on with them? Not much. So really, I must make more of an effort, mustn't I? But this is the bane of the expat accompanying partner overseas. It is a lonely experience. Quite often you can go mad staying in your flat or house all day -- as many an expat housewife told me in Bangkok (not the best posting for a modern western woman, wouldn't you say?) And Atlanta is not the friendliest of American cities to live in. People here are wary of other people, and even warier of strange foreigners who don't exactly look English. The staff and local patrons in the bars and restaurants of town always note the detail that I don't drink booze. Is this because I am a "recovering alcoholic" ( say whaaat!) or, because of my olive skin, am I an evil doing Muslim ensconced and embedded in metro suburbia? He ordered a bacon cheeseburger and another root beer. Maybe not.
Rocking the Shemagh
Yep, that's right, they fear and loathe Muslims round here, mate. And many Yanks, up front and blatant, have told me that they hate all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and wanna nuke 'em off the map. This is a pattern that I have been noticing ever since I first arrived here in August 2012. There was the angry white man in Urban Body Fitness Gym on Amsterdam Avenue, who asked if Mohamed was the most popular name for a boy in England (he also thought we were a socialist country because of the NHS and the BBC); then it was the bloke who looked like Ted Bundy down at Inman Perk cafe who asked me, right after that daft story on Fox News, if Birmingham really was a no-go city for non-Muslim White Anglo Saxon Protestants. I told him it was bullshit, but he didn't want to believe me. All the same, I had better keep my red and white shemagh (picture above) in the cupboard.
"Spiffy": Male Trailing Spouse On The Tiles
The other thing that sparks interest over here is my "spiffy" appearance (when not wearing gym kit). The average white American in Atlanta is a slob and a scruff pot. Civil War era beards are the norm. So are tattoos. Lots of crap ones. Plaid is big. And so are torn denim jeans. The women, the young ones in particular, are equally grungy in kooky mismatched thrift store clothes, nose rings and face studs (yuck!) Many times I have seen hot babes in the distance only to be disgusted at close quarters by bongo bongo nose rings and skin illustrations of a daddy hating nature. It does not burden me to say that I won't be taking any of them to the Ambassador's cocktail party any time soon.
Making Hay While The Sun Shines: A Modern Day Journalist At Work