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That tour of the whole house thing Americans do is bizarre though
October 6, 2013 2:35 AM   Subscribe

"In New York City, if you yell “where do I get the F train?” at someone they will tell you, they might even STOP to tell you. If you ask them “Excuse me, I was wondering if you have a moment, I’m from out of town and my trying to find the F train, so if you could possibly…” If you set up your question with all that, they will have walked away from you after the fifth word.
In Seattle, if you are pushing your car for some reason, men will appear without a word and help you push. You’ll be pushing, and the next thing you know, there are men on either side of you." -- Cultural Secrets that I Know
posted by MartinWisse (461 comments total) 86 users marked this as a favorite

 
The car thing is true everywhere.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 2:46 AM on October 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


Aw, I love a good house tour. It's how you let people know they're welcome, to help them to make themselves at home, and to familiarize them with the layout so later on in a pinch when you say "Sven, could you get the shotgun? It's in the man-cave leaning against the chifforobe," they know where to look.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 2:47 AM on October 6, 2013 [86 favorites]


Many of those are either not as general, or not as specific as the author would have you to believe. For example, I live in Ann Arbor and haven't noticed any greater occurrence of people (specifically African Americans) that I don't know greeting me on the street than happens in other locations, and I find I have control over this by projecting a certain demeanor that is more likely to invite a greeting.

Although I've offered to show folks around my house when they visit, it's only because it is a bit unusual and people are curious, this wasn't the case in more conventional homes... and I've NEVER had anyone request a tour without my offering.

Helping someone push a car has not been a specifically geographic experience for me. I've participated in that ritual in many cities/countries.

So.. Yeah... deriving rules from one person's experience might be a bit dangerous.
posted by HuronBob at 2:49 AM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Asian folks find it *horrifying* when people put soy sauce on their rice at a restaurant... So in North America that little soy bottle appears on your table expressly for the white folks, black folks, and Latinos that… well… they don’t know about/aren’t following an Asian philosophy of rice. Long story.


Eh... Soy sauce on rice is no big deal, and not just for the round eyes. It's not just on sushi that soy sauce is a condiment ( there's a reason why light soy sauce (as opposed to dark cooking soy sauce) is sold widely in China, where sushi is a novelty) in Asia - e.g. the Chinese will use it commonly on a fried egg or for dipping the fried bread at breakfast. I'm not sure at all what "an Asian philosophy of rice" is supposed to be.
posted by Bwithh at 3:00 AM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


In places where cars get stuck a lot, people do tend to help each other out. I was in a tour van that got pushed out of a muddy ditch in Guatemala by about 4 guys in a torrential down pour late at night.

Women in Nicaragua also point with their lips. I wonder in how many places that's common.
posted by empath at 3:00 AM on October 6, 2013


Asian people

As an "Asian" myself, this ridiculously broad category which nevertheless is used as if it's specific , especially in the US usage, is a pet peeve
posted by Bwithh at 3:03 AM on October 6, 2013 [61 favorites]


Lots of the hill farmers I knew in south-west Sichuan would point with their lips but don't recall it being prevalent anywhere else in China. Plus you get soy sauce on the table in jiaozi restaurants (to mix with vinegar for dipping the dumplings) so that bit's wrong too although I realise they're on about rice.
posted by Abiezer at 3:06 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know if this guy is just friendly-looking, but a lot of these are strange to me. I lived in Ann Arbor for several years, and never experienced this.

Buybacks at bars are common in New York, but generally happen after your first few drinks, and then only if you manage to get a good social connection with the bartender, in my experience. I've found that when the bar is a bit empty, or on weekdays, this is more common. You should tip well when this happens, and make a good friend behind the bar!
posted by avinashv at 3:09 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


e.g. the Chinese will use it commonly on a fried egg or for dipping the fried bread at breakfast.

Oh and for dipping chicken and pork too at lunch and dinner, for goodness's sake. Soy sauce is totally a condiment as well as an ingredient in China. Your host might kindly insist you use the light rather than the dark, but you can use the dark just fine if that's the only one available.
posted by Bwithh at 3:13 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


see...now I'm hungry...which one of you is going to make breakfast (and it damn well better include soy sauce!)?
posted by HuronBob at 3:20 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I am immediately inclined to disregard statements that begin with 'In Asia...'.

It's a continent, for goodness' sake.
posted by Salamander at 3:24 AM on October 6, 2013 [35 favorites]


At it simplest : Fry some peanuts in a wok with sesame oil. Fry an egg, make it crispy at the edges in the high heat of the wok. Serve it all with soy sauce as a condiment. Goes well with breakfast rice porridge.
posted by Bwithh at 3:25 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I retroactively feel really guilty for yucking at a coworkers kimchi. I mean, I yucked at a coworkers Big Mac the week before, so I guess I have just gone and proven the point that I am a giant jerk to all ethnicities?
posted by angrycat at 3:35 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Asian people greet their friends with “have you eaten.” Most of the time it’s a courtesy question; the answer is “yes,” or “don’t worry, I’ll eat later.”

Shades of the (stereotyped) Edinburgh "You'll have had your tea", often contrasted with the (again, stereotyped) Glasgow, "You'll have some tea."
posted by pharm at 3:38 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


French people don’t wait in line at a deli, they just stand patiently in a big mob. When you enter, you ask “who was last?” Once that person has had their turn, you know it’s your turn.

There is a large amount of this going on in British pubs, but you don't get to ask, you should just defer to whoever was at the bar in front of you. Competent bar staff should help by having a good idea of who is next anyway.
posted by biffa at 3:47 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I retroactively feel really guilty for yucking at a coworkers kimchi. I mean, I yucked at a coworkers Big Mac the week before, so I guess I have just gone and proven the point that I am a giant jerk to all ethnicities?

Lunch-yucking is frowned upon in most cultures, yes.


Also, kimchi, though fragrant, is DELICIOUS.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:49 AM on October 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


yes, as I said, I was a giant jerk. and kimchi is delicious (of which I speak was over ten years ago, when I had yet to appreciate the delicious of kimchi and also at times was a giant jerk
posted by angrycat at 3:54 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


In New York, if you sit at the bar, the bartenders will often pour you a drink on the house.


And if you tip them and talk to them, they will do this some more. You will have new best friends and you will get SUPER DRUNK.

I learned that one the hard way. Thousands of years from now when our civilization has crumbled they will still be telling tales and singing songs of my hangover, which could be felt by everyone within a half-mile radius around me, I swear it.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:57 AM on October 6, 2013 [29 favorites]



yes, as I said, I was a giant jerk. and kimchi is delicious (of which I speak was over ten years ago, when I had yet to appreciate the delicious of kimchi and also at times was a giant jerk


You get a favorite for admitting it. You would also get some kimchi but I am out.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:59 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


During the Easter season, people in the Eastern churches greet each other with “He is risen!” and the proper response is “Indeed he is risen!” The rest of the year, you may use the standard words for “hello.”

Only for the first couple of weeks after easter though, and only for the first time you meet someone after easter Sunday. Keep it up any longer and you will be getting funny looks and classed as a religious freak. If you are not christian orthodox, you're getting a funny look anyway.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:02 AM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I could do this! As indeed, so many of us who've travelled the world could do. Maybe we all should!

Also...

Asian people

I'm well aware that the term "Oriental" became politically incorrect in the US, but that's unfortunate, really. If the word could simply mean, let's say, "East Asian" (that is, Japan, Korea and China) then we'd at least have some way of *somewhat* more specifically referring to vast areas of the globe. I mean, really, when everyone from Osaka to Goa is called *Asian*, I'm sorry, that's just too damn big a word. It's become meaningless.

And what was it about "Oriental" that made it a no-no term? Because it means east? Because westerners decided that these were people from the *east*? I guess that's maybe why "east Asian" would also be considered inappropriate? I'm genuinely interested in this question, and would be delighted if anyone could definitively answer it for me. For example, the term Oriental carries no particular stigma here in Japan. There's a chain of pachinko parlors here in Tokyo, for example, called Oriental Passage. Doesn't raise an eyebrow. This word, which has become beyond the pale in the US, carries no apparent negative baggage here in... um, east Asia.

Any insight, hive mind, into this matter?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:07 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


And what was it about "Oriental" that made it a no-no term

In academic/lefty intellectual , it might be because of Edward Said's work. Previously, being an Orientalist meant you were a fan or scholar of Eastern cultures - no longer, alas. Oriental means everything east of Europe i.e. Asia , not just East Asia - from Istanbul ("The Orient Express") to Vladivostok, so it is a Eurocentric term. But what makes it out of bounds in the US today is the term Oriental's association with earlier periods of official discrimination against immigrants, especially the Chinese. I, as an Asian of Chinese ethnicity in the US, am not personally bothered by the term, and I think official legislation against it has been an overreaction spurred on by a somewhat confused Asian identity movement in the US.
posted by Bwithh at 4:22 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hmm. I can't really speak to its falling out of favor so much, but "Oriental" (at least when I think of it in terms of art history) tended to refer not only to Eastern but also Central Asia, which still includes far too wide a swath of various cultures to be useful, especially if we are talking about "cultural secrets," which can vary widely even within the same country.

Bear in mind I am USian, which is has all kinds of cultures - I live here and I still don't get the dance right, because sometimes that last slice of pizza looks really good.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:30 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess that's maybe why "east Asian" would also be considered inappropriate?

I don't think East Asian is considered inappropriate, is it? South Asian, Southeast Asian, East Asian: those are pretty neutral designations.
posted by BinGregory at 4:32 AM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I mean, really, when everyone from Osaka to Goa is called *Asian*, I'm sorry, that's just too damn big a word. It's become meaningless.
Further confusing the matter, while in North America describing someone as "Asian" is generally accepted to mean they're east-Asian, in the UK "Asian" generally means Pakistani or Indian. Confusion abounds!
posted by leo_r at 4:37 AM on October 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is an exchange of "good morning" on the street all that uncommon? I get that fairly often on my walk to work or to the gym in the morning.
posted by octothorpe at 4:44 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yep. In the UK, the done thing is to use "Oriental" to describe people from China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

I'm mostly influenced by US culture, with a dollop of talking to Japanese people in Japan who found "Oriental" problematic, so when I moved to the UK that blew my mind.

In other comments on the article, Japan does the umbrella-stand-in-store thing, too. Though your umbrella might not necessarily still be there when you get back to the stand. It may have been nicked, or someone might have "mistaken" yours for theirs (especially if you paid 500 for yours and they got theirs at a 100-yen store). So for those who want to keep their umbrellas with them without for that matter wanting to drip all over the establishment, there are long umbrella bags you can grab for free. (Why yes this does make it seem like your umbrella is wearing a condom. It's still damn useful.)
posted by harujion at 4:46 AM on October 6, 2013


I say "good morning,' but it is usually when I am on my way home from a graveyard shift all disheveled and red-eyed so people tend to shrink away in terror.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:47 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


During the Easter season, people in the Eastern churches greet each other with “He is risen!” and the proper response is “Indeed he is risen!” The rest of the year, you may use the standard words for “hello.”

This is perfectly common among all kinds of liturgical Christians, not just Eastern ones. In the US, we usually respond with "He is risen, indeed!" You won't find it much among Baptists or their descendents, the megachurch folks, or really anyone who doesn't go for liturgy.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:53 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


The is very little speaking in a Mexican barber shop. Silencio.

So Mexico is where heaven is, good to know.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:54 AM on October 6, 2013 [69 favorites]


Agreed, Divine_Wino. I think most men would pay extra for a 'no talking' barber shop.
posted by grajohnt at 5:00 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


French people don’t wait in line at a deli, they just stand patiently in a big mob. When you enter, you ask “who was last?” Once that person has had their turn, you know it’s your turn.

Yep, this is true in most of France. In my southeastern corner, we don't generally ask, but it's viewed as polite if you do so anyway. Typically it's phrased as "were you in front of me?" to the person you suspect was last before you arrived: "vous étiez devant moi ?" They'll either nod or someone else will say, "c'était moi" and so you wait until they've passed.

The proper reaction when (not if, when... sigh...) someone cuts in line is likewise to say, "madame/monsieur, la queue se termine là" ("ma'am/sir, the line ends there"). If/when they insist, don't address them directly, but catch the eye of someone near you, shake your head and say, "ahlala, y a des gens..." at which point whisperings of "mal élevé", "malpoli", and the more direct "mais qu'est-ce qu'il croit ?!" will generally shame the person into compliance. It's rather practical since anyone rude enough to continue blustering through that gauntlet thus proves themself a sociopathic sort you don't want to deal with anyway.
posted by fraula at 5:02 AM on October 6, 2013 [84 favorites]


Women in Nicaragua also point with their lips.

According to Hillerman, the Navajo do this, too.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:06 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


A Taiwanese friend pointed out to me that where she was studying in northern Florida, nobody ever said "thank you" or "you’re welcome" ever. Instead, they said "'preciate it," and the answer was "no problem."

Welcome to the South. This is practiced, in my personal experience, as far west as Where The West Begins.
posted by fireoyster at 5:09 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yep. In the UK, the done thing is to use "Oriental" to describe people from China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

Not in my experience. I would find this quite weird.
posted by knapah at 5:13 AM on October 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think most men would pay extra for a 'no talking' barber shop.

Not me. No talking in the barber shop is tantamount to building a fetish dungeon for people who get off on the discomfort of being painfully shy and fidgety—there you are, hanging in your sling, with the clippers buzzing and mirrors everywhere, with sooo much eye contact to awkwardly avoid. You might as well be in a crowd at the urinals in the old Cole Field House at the University of Maryland where rows of low urinals faced each other along a shared tiled wall at belly button height.

The secret, if you want silence in an old school barber shop, is to pick the Vietnamese girl instead of the older white guy who calls you "sport" and "chief" and "big guy" and "honcho," because she will ask you few questions and take more time to get your sideburns and the line around your ears right, anyway.
posted by sonascope at 5:15 AM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


If you ask them “Excuse me, I was wondering if you have a moment, I’m from out of town and my trying to find the F train, so if you could possibly…” If you set up your question with all that, they will have walked away from you after the fifth word.

I think it is hilariously parochial to pretend this sort of conduct is universal by location or even by individual. In Ottawa, the corner of Catherine and O'Connor is the intersection of two one-way streets: several lanes southbound and several westbound, As well, there is a third option for vehicles to leave -- to the southwest, an on-ramp to the Trans-Canada Highway. For pedestrians crossing here at this entrance ramp, there is a button to activate the crosswalk, and you get seven seconds to walk across this single lane of ramp: two seconds of WALK and five more of the flashing red countdown. If no one pushes the button, of course, no WALK signal appears and traffic flows onto the highway from both streets unimpeded.

Now, I am always happy to help people out with directions around an unfamiliar neighbourhoood or city, no matter how lengthy the prologue is. That being said, I was crossing here once (at the on-ramp) and a woman crossing in the other direction stopped halfway across and said, "Excuse me, sir, I was wondering if you could tell me..." so I said "No,"and continued on my way. I have little doubt she thought me rude. For my part, I have trouble conceiving of having that dim a situational awareness that one would strike up a conversation in the middle of a highway on-ramp.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:21 AM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I've learned when Americans visit me in the UK to give them the house tour (of my very small two-bedroomed flat). But with my British and Irish friends, most of whom I've known for 15 or 20 years or more, although we've visited one another's homes many times they've never seen my bedroom, nor I theirs. It's just Not Done.
posted by essexjan at 5:22 AM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


> I think it is hilariously…

walks away
posted by Renegade Duck at 5:28 AM on October 6, 2013 [32 favorites]


Tipping bartenders is itself a weird American custom. In the UK if you really want to, you can ask them "will you have one yourself?", ie will they have a drink on you, and they may then just keep the price of a drink: but it's not common these days.
posted by Segundus at 5:30 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


there you are, hanging in your sling, with the clippers buzzing and mirrors everywhere, with sooo much eye contact to awkwardly avoid.

Do you wear glasses? No? Develop the need to wear glasses, eye contact becomes meaningless. This is also fun when you have to put on your glasses each time to tell the barber "how's that?" and they act surprised that you wear glasses. It's like playing got your nose with a child except it's an adult with scissors.

I love getting haircuts, I appreciate the art and the intimacy, I just prefer a solemn, mildly ritualistic experience, I'll do ten minutes of small talk after the haircut if that seems like what the haircutter wants.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:30 AM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


This comes to mind re the 'Asian' debate.

Hank Hill meets Kahn for the first time.

Hank Hill: So are you Chinese or Japanese?
Kahn : I live in California last twenty year, but, ah... first come from Laos.
Hank Hill: Huh?
Kahn : Laos. We Laotian.
Bill Dauterive: The ocean? What ocean?
Kahn : We are Laotian--from Laos, stupid! It's a landlocked country in southeast Asia. It's between Vietnam and Thailand, OK? Population 4.7 million.

Hank ponders this for a few seconds.

Hank Hill: So are you Chinese or Japanese?
Kahn : [groans]
posted by essexjan at 5:33 AM on October 6, 2013 [63 favorites]


In the UK if you really want to, you can ask them "will you have one yourself?", ie will they have a drink on you,

I'm pretty sure that drinking on the job would get the bar tender fired in most places in the US.
posted by octothorpe at 5:35 AM on October 6, 2013


when (not if, when... sigh...) someone cuts in line...

Tiens, un/une resquilleur (‑euse)!
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:37 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm trying hard to think of a restaurant here serving Japanese food without soy sauce on the table. Especially in any establishment that serves sashimi or gyoza.

No, it's not commonly put on rice. But it is there. Is there a reason this guys shallow impressions and sweeping generalizations is getting more traction than others? I mean, the Have you eaten yet? thing is a common Chinese greeting, but not a standard greeting in Japan. Asia, as has been mentioned, is a big damn place, with tons of different cultures.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:38 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, they know that nobody at the table will “yuck” their food out loud. I grew up with the value that people who “yuck” somebody else’s food are themselves garbage.


this. one of the most rude, yet some how totally unrecognized as so, behaviors of friends in the past, and has been a starting point me distancing myself from said friends eventually.

also regarding this:
"Asian people greet their friends with “have you eaten.” Most of the time it’s a courtesy question; the answer is “yes,” or “don’t worry, I’ll eat later.”

i'm wondering what his background is, he looks filipino (i am, and my filipino radar is going off looking at the photos in about section), which makes the 'have you eaten' thing confusing to me. filipinos in my experience ask that question completely sincerely, and i've learned to answer it when i've already eaten 'yes but i can eat again', because they WANT to either eat with you or give you food. maybe it's different on the west coast...
posted by fuzzypantalones at 5:38 AM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


In Vancouver, you can purchase goods and services from merchants using a currency the locals call "money".

In Kalamazoo, MI, many restaurants offer a free basket of bread.

In Casablanca you must go careful. There are vultures, vultures everywhere. Also the authorities may turn a blind eye to gambling.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:45 AM on October 6, 2013 [98 favorites]


“have you eaten.”

In Hong Kong it's "have you eaten your rice already/yet?" It's basically asking are you OK? The question has embedded in it an historical memory of times when food was scarce or mighty scarce.

A hungry person is not a happy person.

Of course, they might just be asking you if you are hungry.
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:46 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think most men would pay extra for a 'no talking' barber shop.

I'd also pay extra for a barbershop where conversation wasn't fueled by talk radio-inspired outrage (Can you believe what those crooks in the state house are proposing? Discount bus fare for war widows! The nerve of them!) , sports (My friend's father-in-law just saw Tom Brady buying six new expensive cars, that must be a sign that we're going all the way this year), or people just soapboxing from the chair (I can't believe I was pulled over yesterday afternoon for doing 50 in a school zone! It was a half day! The kids were all home already! Sometimes I think they schedule those teacher inservices just so the police can meet their quotas....)
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:46 AM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


The soy sauce thing is weird. You generally get soy-sauce along with chilli and garlic sauce in them small dipping plates whenever you have Hainanese chicken rice in Malaysia and Singapore. Here's the full list from Google.
posted by the cydonian at 5:47 AM on October 6, 2013


The fact that not every county gives guests a tour when they show up at your house is blowing my mind. I would love to not do that anymore, especially if it meant I can I stop cleaning my bedroom.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:51 AM on October 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that drinking on the job would get the bar tender fired in most places in the US.

Hence why the usual response is "thanks, I'll have one for later", and to take the money.
posted by walrus at 5:52 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


This whole list is like non-offensive vaguely racist crap. Soy sauce in "Asia" as others have said is indeed a condiment. People do NOT save "please" (pot favor) after you say "thank you" (gracias) in Argentina ever. On very rare occasions someone who has spent time in north America MIGHT say the equivalent of "no problem" (por nada) but this is like .005% of the time.
posted by chasles at 5:54 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine who lives in Harlem took of a picture of a homemade sign posted on a… mail box?… saying “Black people should greet each other!”

While his friend may have seen that sign it is not remotely representative of the Harlem I've lived in for the past dozen years.
posted by plastic_animals at 6:00 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


YES Americans show you the entire house like it's a museum tour. I catch myself doing it too. I have no idea why we do it, it just feels very comforting.
posted by The Whelk at 6:02 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


This kind of list always tend to end up highlighting that most countries are large heterogeneous places where people do different things in different places.

However, you must greet a french shopkeeper immediately. No matter what.
posted by srboisvert at 6:05 AM on October 6, 2013


Also buyback culture is vastly more complicated then that and depends on the type of bar, the mood of the bar, how many drinks you've consumed, tip level, the phases of the moon, and the augurs of several learned and wizened magi.
posted by The Whelk at 6:07 AM on October 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


The fact that not every county gives guests a tour when they show up at your house is blowing my mind. I would love to not do that anymore, especially if it meant I can I stop cleaning my bedroom.

In Vietnam (the only foreign country I've been to), most of the middle-class housing in the cities is single family housing on a very tall, narrow plan. My wife's family, for example, has a 6 story house on Au Co. In these houses, the bottom floor is called the "money maker," where the family has a store. The next floor is a reception area, where there is a dining table, the kitchen, and "living room" (which is just a couple of couches and a low table), and the bedrooms of the highest-status people (grandma and grandpa). Above that, you get more bedrooms and bathrooms, but nobody from outside the family goes above the second floor.

There's also a far more fluid relationship between "inside" and "outside." The top floor is an open-air veranda, while each floor actually has huge windows that can't be closed. (These allow wind to come in, which is very important in the heat and without air conditioning.) The store is completely open in the front, and the sidewalk serves as an extension of the store. (Family members will often sit out on the sidewalk drinking coffee, and the family puts out a big barrel of drinking water for anyone to use.)

This photo is pretty representative.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:07 AM on October 6, 2013 [55 favorites]


In conclusion, everywhere is a land of contrasts.
posted by Dr Dracator at 6:08 AM on October 6, 2013 [37 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that drinking on the job would get the bar tender fired in most places in the US.

You print a receipt with the tip drink on it and put it in your pint glass on the back bar and then cash it in after your shift. Mine was generally a half, so cash two receipts in for a pint. (This does also mean that there is the night before stocktake 'drink it or loose it' evening, where you have to drink your remaining tips before they check barrels vs drinks on the till and reset everything. Try not to work the morning after that night...
posted by halcyonday at 6:09 AM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


In these houses, the bottom floor is called the "money maker," where the family has a store.

I too regard my bottom as a "money maker."
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:10 AM on October 6, 2013 [45 favorites]


The Argentina one is not actually wrong, but it is unusual and a bit old fashioned. It might also have a geographical component (Buenos Aires city and province?). It's more commonly used in exchanges between older people, and it goes this way: A helps B with something (say, keep lift door open long enough for B to enter with all their shopping bags), B says "gracias", A replies "por favor". This use of "por favor" is (checking RAE's dictionary) an interjection, not a request for help, and functions as a friendly rebuke from A to B for assuming the help just provided was any bother at all, or that it wouldn't be offered without exception in all similar situations. I have actually used it myself not that long ago, for whatever it's worth.
posted by Iosephus at 6:11 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I mean, really, when everyone from Osaka to Goa is called *Asian*, I'm sorry, that's just too damn big a word.


Dammit, now I really want a coconut fish curry and some takoyaki.



Re: buybacks- many bars actually have a "buyback tab" to be used at the bartender's discretion. In many cases they are even required to pour a certain number of free drinks for regulars and other customers of interest. It really helps to make friends with bartenders in the US.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:12 AM on October 6, 2013


I have a hard time not giving a tour of my apartment to visitors, in that my place is so small that one must go through every space to visit either the kitchen or the bathroom, and it's so full of the weird stuff I've been collecting over the years that it's like I live in a toybox, or, to the less charitable, a tacky family restaurant with kitschy crap nailed to the walls.
posted by sonascope at 6:13 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not me. No talking in the barber shop is tantamount to building a fetish dungeon for people who get off on the discomfort of being painfully shy and fidgety—there you are, hanging in your sling, with the clippers buzzing and mirrors everywhere, with sooo much eye contact to awkwardly avoid. You might as well be in a crowd at the urinals in the old Cole Field House at the University of Maryland where rows of low urinals faced each other along a shared tiled wall at belly button height.

You go to the barber with the chatty old Cuban guys who give you a shot of whiskey before you begin and play lots of old jazz records to listen to while you're being worked over.

Also, if you dress like me ( an accountant from History) you will get asked directions no matter where you are. no. matter. where.
posted by The Whelk at 6:14 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


My SO was shocked when she moved from Richmond to Chicago that eating fast food in the office was met not with "why are you putting that in your body?" or "but there's a great local spot right there…" but "NICE I'm jealous".
posted by a halcyon day at 6:14 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, you don't tip your bartenders in England?

I am old enough to have grown up when the drinking age was still 18 in NY. So, in high school we went to bars starting around 16. The seniors would teach the juniors proper bar culture. How and how much to tip, where to sit to get buybacks and where to go to puke. Tips are the grease that make a proper bar work smoothly.

Heck, I worked as a bartender in college and can safely say that without tips, I could not afford to work there. Plus, no drinking while on the job? At my bar where I worked, a drink was considered part of the compensation. I learned to be essentially a functioning alcoholic as a bartender.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:15 AM on October 6, 2013


( I stop at showing the bedroom, but there's a neat story about the connecting wall between the den and kitchen, we found an interior, unused closet with so many nails hammered into the doorframe it looked likesomething out of an arty serial killer movie.)
posted by The Whelk at 6:15 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


well, here's another datapoint. I'm American, Mr. Bluesky is German and he always offers a tour of our home to newcomers. I THINK IT"S WEIRD as in NOOOOOOOO the bed isn't made! clothes on the floor! We live in the US and I have found that it is much more common in Germany, at least amongst those we visit when we've been there.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:15 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, you don't tip your bartenders in England?

Nope! And drinks are premeasured, so no getting a heavy pour, thus the " buy the bartender a round" thing.
posted by The Whelk at 6:16 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


( and when I was bartending in NYC a few drinks here and there on the job was considered polite if it kept the regulars happy and the bar lively. I didn't like to drink on the job but one shot every four hours on a shift wasn't going to kill you.)
posted by The Whelk at 6:18 AM on October 6, 2013


( and of course, nobody on earth drinks like food service, medical, and hospitality workers just getting off work at 4am, NO ONE.)
posted by The Whelk at 6:19 AM on October 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


This whole thing reads like the author is angling to be noticed for a book deal.
posted by Renoroc at 6:19 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The expectation that strangers will see every part of your house is a good incentive to keep it at least moderately tidy - QUICK PUT THINGS AWAY PEOPLE WILL SEE HOW WE LIVE.
posted by The Whelk at 6:21 AM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I remember when I was in Korea, the bartenders were drinking on the job so often that they had a special thing they used to drink beforehand to coat the stomach and prevent the alcohol from sinking in as quickly and stop them from getting drunk. Also, if you tipped them well, there was no end to the things they'd do for regulars, to include ordering you food and bringing in special music for you.
posted by corb at 6:21 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I solve all these quandaries by avoiding contact with people at all times.
posted by Devonian at 6:21 AM on October 6, 2013 [27 favorites]


if you tipped them well, there was no end to the things they'd do for regulars, to include ordering you food and bringing in special music for you.

Oh hey my bartender does this, will order food for you and has a set of CDs i made and can be put on if zi ask sparingly - granted I've been going there for ten years and frequently give him leftovers ( and bones for his dog*) cause it's impossible to cook for two most of the time.

* a tiny dog that sometimes hangs out curled up in the back of the bar and who is for whatever reason terrified of me. I've never seen a dog in another NYC bar but I saw so many bar dogs in New Orleans, even one with Dog Bouncers ( they stood outside the door and watched, giving everyone who came in a sniff test.)
posted by The Whelk at 6:26 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


( I stop at showing the bedroom, but there's a neat story about the connecting wall between the den and kitchen, we found an interior, unused closet with so many nails hammered into the doorframe it looked likesomething out of an arty serial killer movie.)

Arty serial killer movie aesthetics aside, finding a secret room is the most awesome thing ever. Congratulations!
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:26 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree that as useful cultural generalization, this isn't any good, but it does point out a few fun things. I got privy to the American house tour thing from someone I worked with - I think it might have been a Dutch woman? - and it blew my mind too, to totally reframe this as a uniquely American thing. Since I was alerted to that I've noticed a few more things about it.

One, I'm not sure how far back it goes. My grandparents, for instance, did not give people house tours, nor expect them. It seems to have really taken off with the Boomers, or maybe some of their parents who had new-construction houses and thus something interesting to show people living in older houses, or about to build or buy their own new house, etc.

Two, it used to be that you had to offer "So, would you like the ten cent tour?" But now, I agree, people do have the gall to ask "so can I see the house?" I find asking incredibly rude. If your host wants to give a house tour, they'll invite you to. But it might be that they threw everything into the bedroom when they learned you were coming over, and it's a disaster, and they don't need you to see that. I would never ask someone for a tour.

Three, showing the house seems to be a distinctly middle-class thing, in my experiences. I mean, yes, there are exceptions in which very affluent people will show off their house. But at the same time, when I've visited the homes of the very rich as part of stuff for work, I've noticed how carefully they police the various boundaries of the house, with rules and routines for each location. There is a door you are to enter, a place you are to sit while you drink seltzer water and talk about whatever you came for, perhaps a couple of show locations with artwork or a garden that you visit and comment admiringly on, but there are very clearly intimate realms of the house and 'business' areas, as it were, and you don't ask to cross the borders. Even when you go to a social thing like cocktails or dinner, nwith rare exceptions, you stay where you're put and so do the hosts. You don't get invited to see the back rooms or all 21 rooms or whatever. And they don't offer. There are certainly exceptions, and this probably has a lot to do with the impractical size of the house, but big formal houses tend to have 'zones' of habitation and are not put on view the same way.
posted by Miko at 6:27 AM on October 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


My first encounter with Oriental v Asian was from the Real World Season 2 in '93.
Pretty sure that goes for all my TN high school friends.
posted by wester at 6:33 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


In the UK I've only ever seen the house tour thing as a kind of celebration of having recently finally moved up the housing ladder in some notable fashion. Like, the first time you have your own house (rented or otherwise), or the first time you have what you consider to be a nice house instead of a slum landlord setup. Or if you have recently redecorated.

I might ask to see the house if it was a reasonably close friend who had had recently moved (so any clutter or "interesting" decor can be blamed on previous owners or house-moving chaos).

With anyone not a close friend, they can jolly well limit their upstairs investigations to the bathroom.
posted by emilyw at 6:34 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Cultural Secrets that I Know

• People on the internet will say things.

• People on Metafilter will fight them.
posted by orme at 6:34 AM on October 6, 2013 [53 favorites]


if you tipped them well, there was no end to the things they'd do for regulars, to include ordering you food and bringing in special music for you.

Oh yeah, you see this people who get houses as part of their position. This massive historical town home belongs to the organization you work for and the lower two floors are expected to be, if not open to the public, but public facing and used for fuctions/showing off and the like. The upper stories are private and would never be shown to anyone outside the family or the closest confidants - so I wonder if the house tour thing is an aping of the upper class conception of public and private zones of the house.
posted by The Whelk at 6:34 AM on October 6, 2013


I always feel vaguely remiss not showing people around my apartment, but I never do. Partly this is because I tend to live in small apartments where the layout is pretty obvious at first sight, but mainly it's because my bedroom is where I piled all the crap cluttering up the front room because people were coming over.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:36 AM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I love getting the house tour. I'm not sure it is cultural or classist. I see it more as a primal thing of orientation to a new space. I've had house tours in Australia, England and Italy as well as USA.
posted by bhnyc at 6:39 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am a Mexican-American and I want to know what stack of warm tortillas sits there long enough to care what order you take them in. In my household they were generally all gone as fast as you could blink. I think you guys might have a point with this whole heaven thing. Land of the silent barbershops and the giant stacks of toasty warm tortillas...
posted by Sequence at 6:40 AM on October 6, 2013 [25 favorites]


When I show off my apartment, I'll skip the bedroom. In my mind, the areas that could be open floorplan in a bungalow are required, and you should point out where the bathroom is. The rest is optional.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:42 AM on October 6, 2013


I love getting the house tour.

Everyone who comes to chez flapjax gets a house tour by simply walking in the front door of the apartment, glancing to the right at the open door of my daughter's small bedroom, continuing down the very short hallway past the bathroom, immediately followed by the door to the toilet, then it's straight into the kitchen and directly on into the 6-mat tatami room, where flapjax and family will be entertaining. That's it! The whole thing takes approximately 7 or 8 seconds., and voila! Your tour is complete!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:46 AM on October 6, 2013


We avoided having to do the house tour thing for a decade, by not moving or making any new friends. It's such an awkward ritual: "um! yeah, so here's another room. Okay then."
posted by ook at 6:50 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, you don't tip your bartenders in England?

No, we have this strange tradition of paying them higher wages than the US instead.
posted by walrus at 6:51 AM on October 6, 2013 [47 favorites]


I am an American. House tours exist, but are usually when someone has just bought a house. I can't even conceive of someone asking to be shown around the sleeping areas of someone else's house. I have close friends I've visited many times, including staying overnight, whose bedrooms I've never seen.
posted by escabeche at 6:51 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Our house tour (NYC): this is the living room. The bathroom is through the bedroom. That's it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:52 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have no idea why we do it, it just feels very comforting.

I show off my apartment to visitors mostly because I need to explain the rather odd placement of lights in the bathroom (also what the toilet protocol is -- we have an industrial system which can.. startle... the uninitiated). They also need to know the places the cat is not meant to go no matter now much he pretends he is.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:54 AM on October 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've done house tours, but only of "public" spaces like the living room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom. Bedrooms are off limits.
posted by Apoch at 6:55 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apartment tours are very common here in Singapore (hi cydonian!). Sometimes the host offers, sometimes the guests ask. It's pretty much a given that the first time you visit someone, you'll get a tour of the place, and a quick rundown of the pros and cons of living there (amenities, or lack thereof, transportation, noise etc...).

But then again, I don't go to someone's home unless we've been friends for forever, or they're relatives, so that might change the etiquette somewhat.
posted by Alnedra at 7:10 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


People like touring other people's houses. My neighborhood association makes almost its entirely yearly budget from charging people $25 a head to tour houses decorated for Christmas every year. It's in December but we have to turn on ticket sales at Labor Day or we get besieged with people calling to ask when they can buy tickets.
posted by octothorpe at 7:13 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the presumption in any big US city is that anyone who comes up saying "Excuse me, I wonder if you could..." is a panhandler.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:15 AM on October 6, 2013 [30 favorites]


I always thought the house-tour was mostly just to help overnight visitors orient themselves and not accidentally go in to a bedroom when they meant to be going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And also occasionally to show off some expensive new appliance or something ("and that's our new fuck-swing, you won't believe the deal we got...")
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:16 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


flapjax at midnite:

I'm a little bit late to the thread of conversation, but I was taught (and now intuitively feel) that "Oriental" is offensive when it is used to refer to a person ("That Oriental guy" or worse, "The Oriental believes..." or "Orientals do X...") but is simply outdated - and appropriate in certain very specific historical contexts - when describing a place ("The Orient") and entirely acceptable when describing objects ("Oriental rugs.")

That would explain why no one is particularly bothered by the phrase "Oriental Passage," but it's still not appropriate to call someone Oriental. I imagine it's something like the fine distinction between referring to "Jewish People" and calling people "Jews." I'm also under the impression that the term is much more acceptable in Britain than it is here; I remember once being startled by the back cover of a book that described a UK historian as a "famed Orientalist."

YMMV.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:18 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't know about in Mexico, but at the Mexican barber shop I go to in Southern Californian all the seats and the Barbers are facing a large tv constantly showing some movie or another. Conversation is limited to cracking jokes about the movie. Pretty great and the place is always packed.
posted by bswinburn at 7:18 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the house tour. I wouldn't ask for one, no, but I think it's kind of weird if it's not offered. I grew up with it too, and my parents were upper middle class and lived well, but they and their friends all did it. Or, actually, the kids did it for them; it was sort of a beginning of the party show off the cute kids icebreaker thing. Also my parents were very into restoring old houses, a fondness if not a budget that I have inherited. I confess to total architectural / design nosiness - I don't care how messy it is but if you have crown molding and built in bookshelves and that bathroom tile with the little almost iridescent diamond tiles I want to know about it. Plus I live in a strange house myself - one day I will write a coffee table book entitled Built by Hippies in Asheville, NC - and giving the tour is always fun: "Yeah, here's the room made of glass doors and this is the tiny room from which you spy on the room made of glass doors because. . . because we don't know why. The room is made of glass. Of all rooms it did not need a peephole."
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:32 AM on October 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


so full of the weird stuff I've been collecting over the years that it's like I live in a toybox
Well if sonascope ever did home meetup I for one would consider hopping a plane!
posted by sammyo at 7:32 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


pretentious illiterate: I'm also under the impression that the term is much more acceptable in Britain than it is here...

Data point: my soon-to-be sister-in-law's family come from Hong Kong, and she moved over to the UK as an adolescent. I remember her complaining, back when MySpace accounts were still a thing, that she couldn't set her race there to Oriental, only Asian. She was pretty cross.
posted by daisyk at 7:33 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah and bedroom door on a home tour would stay closed for safety, the tall short term stacks of stuff can be dangerous.
posted by sammyo at 7:34 AM on October 6, 2013


I Occidentally a whole continent. Is this dangerous?
posted by oulipian at 7:35 AM on October 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


In New York City, if you yell “where do I get the F train?” at someone they will tell you, they might even STOP to tell you. If you ask them “Excuse me, I was wondering if you have a moment, I’m from out of town and my trying to find the F train, so if you could possibly…” If you set up your question with all that, they will have walked away from you after the fifth word.

While it's true that a lengthy "excuse me, do you have a moment because I'm from out of town and I need to meet my sister and...." fanfare will annoy people, it's okay to add a simple "excuse me" before barking out "where do I get the F train" to New Yorkers. Just because you think we're all rude doesn't mean we like being treated that way.

We're not rude, anyway. We're just direct.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:36 AM on October 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


I gave a house tour recently to a friend who was visiting me while I was staying with my sister for a few days. About halfway through I did think to myself, "what am I doing? I don't even live here," but I just pressed on to show her the beautiful master bath. It really is a strange thing to do.
posted by something something at 7:39 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also we're conditioned to think that "excuse me do you have a moment..." is someone asking for money.
posted by The Whelk at 7:39 AM on October 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


(okay, yes, that was me adding that comment over there....)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:42 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


But for the rest of Asia including non-sushi Japan, soy sauce is a kitchen ingredient, not a table condiment.

As a South Asian, soy sauce is nowhere, in the kitchen or the table, in my extended family in India. In America, we eat it when we are eating stir fries or such, because growing up we ate a variety of food and not Indian all day every day because, you know, America.

Also how much cultural stuff does this guy know if he's just now hearing the word "buyback?"

Overall this thread worth it so we could discuss how useless the term "Asian" is because it is. I'm more closely related to Europeans than the East Asian people I tick off the "Asian" box along with. I think East or South Asian would be good identifiers and not offensive.
posted by sweetkid at 7:52 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also how much cultural stuff does this guy know if he's just now hearing the word "buyback?"

I'd never heard it before, and I've been going to bars in the United States of America all my adult life. Culture is weird that way -- when you're familiar with something you think everybody's familiar with it.
posted by escabeche at 7:55 AM on October 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


French people don’t wait in line at a deli

FTetc.

Mind you, neither do we Brits, these days, so I can't get all culturally superior about this one any more. Bah.
posted by Decani at 7:59 AM on October 6, 2013



I'd never heard it before, and I've been going to bars in the United States of America all my adult life.


Yea but you're also not like Hey Guys Here's an Overgeneralizing List of How People Do Stuff in Places and You Prolly Don't Know All This Here Stuff I Know so Listen Up.
posted by sweetkid at 8:02 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, house tours are weird. No, they really are. I came to see you, not your bleedin' spare bedroom and laundry basket. And if I need a leak, I'll ask where the facility is.
posted by Decani at 8:03 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never heard of a buyback, but I've had many a lagniappe. Also, outside of the Mississippi Delta, I think it's just called a free drink.
posted by dis_integration at 8:03 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


The is very little speaking in a Mexican barber shop. Silencio.

Unlike the US (or parts of the US only?) where you are considered a malcontent or a loser if you don't make with small talk to the stranger cutting your hair. The weather or "How long have you lived here in Nashville?" are usually the only topics that generally work as a brief social lubricant; even sports is not always a sure bet. Even then we usually fall silent after about two minutes because I don't have much else to say.

In the days when I went to bars, I didn't talk to people; why would I want to talk to the hairstylist, unless because of some unspoken social pressure?

I'm an introvert, so sue me.
posted by blucevalo at 8:08 AM on October 6, 2013


I'd also pay extra for a barbershop where conversation wasn't fueled by talk radio-inspired outrage ... , sports ..., or people just soapboxing from the chair

When I was a kid, my grandma took me to a very traditional barber shop for my haircuts. There was a sign listing the price for various kinds of conversations. Politics and religion were the most expensive, of course.
posted by Foosnark at 8:10 AM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also, the Ann Arbor thing ..... I also lived there for a good number of years myself and never had that experience there -- ever. However, I may well have had it, say, in Oakland. Strange that this writer makes it specific to Ann Arbor only, as though it would never happen anywhere else.
posted by blucevalo at 8:12 AM on October 6, 2013


Oh those wacky non-whites!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:16 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was kinda weirded out when they started sprinkling sawdust on the floor of the Vatican, but, hey, when in Rome.
posted by box at 8:19 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I live in the U.S. midwest and people only want a House Tour (tm) if you've just moved or repainted/renovated. Otherwise people often have an opening conversational gambit of "Oh, your house is lovely! When was it built? How many bedrooms do you have?" and you might show them the public areas, pointing out any recent changes you've made, but never the bedrooms. That'd be weird. People understand about laundry. I don't think I've ever shown anyone the bedrooms; I just point to the parts of the ceiling where they are as I count them.

I did one time ask a few friends if any of them wanted to come look at a house I was thinking of buying with me, because it was a little unusual and I couldn't quite make up my mind. EIGHT of them showed up. I apologized profusely to my Realtor, but she was like, "Oh, don't worry about it, this happens all the time! People love looking at houses!" My friends spent like two hours going over the house in gleeful detail. In the end I didn't buy it (weird yard, appalling laundry room, musty basement) but all my friend were like, "That was fun, tell us when you're going house-hunting again!" (The owners had already moved out, it would have been a lot weirder to bring a posse of looky-loo friends to a house where people were still living.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:21 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mind you, neither do we Brits, these days, so I can't get all culturally superior about this one any more. Bah.

It was sad to witness that no one seems to queue for the bus any more when I was in London last week.
posted by Kitteh at 8:26 AM on October 6, 2013


Regarding the splitting the pole thing: I thought everybody knows if you split a pole or a fire hydrant, etc., comes between you when you are walking, all you have to do is say, "Bread and Butter!" and it negates the bad luck because everyone knows bread sticks to butter.

Along the same lines as holding your feet up when you drive over a bridge and holding your nose when you pass a cemetery.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:29 AM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I imagine it's something like the fine distinction between referring to "Jewish People" and calling people "Jews."

I disagree. I'm still a Jew.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:30 AM on October 6, 2013


I was in a small town in North Dakota a few years ago (long story) in November and froze my ass off the entire time. When I walked down the street (shivering the whole way) total strangers would make eye contact and say, "Cold enough for you?" Mostly I'd just smile and nod but I found it really weird that the population of an entire state would have the same greeting.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:31 AM on October 6, 2013


During the Easter season, people in the Eastern churches greet each other with “He is risen!” and the proper response is “Indeed he is risen!"

That's what she said.
posted by anothermug at 8:32 AM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


When I walked down the street (shivering the whole way) total strangers would make eye contact and say, "Cold enough for you?"

This was your perfect opportunity to hiss "NO!" and cause a bolt of ice to spew from your extended finger, causing 2d8+2 damage.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:34 AM on October 6, 2013 [50 favorites]


Reminds me of a Taiwanese woman I went to college with who would often observe how Detroiters are different from other Americans in X or Y way and after a particularly off-base one it dawned on me I was the only guy in her sample. That's how I learned Taiwanese women are fond of drawing large generalizations from a single instance.
posted by BinGregory at 8:34 AM on October 6, 2013 [93 favorites]


I did one time ask a few friends if any of them wanted to come look at a house I was thinking of buying with me, because it was a little unusual and I couldn't quite make up my mind. EIGHT of them showed up. I apologized profusely to my Realtor, but she was like, "Oh, don't worry about it, this happens all the time! People love looking at houses!"

You just made me sad almost everyone I know rents. That DOES sound like fun!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:36 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


And this is where we poop....
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:38 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Excuse me, I was wondering if you have a moment, I’m from out of town and my trying to find the F train"

At this point I'd be assuming I was about to be asked for money.
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't mind me, I'm just smearing marmite and peanutbutter on my natto and durian onigiri and then washing it down with root beer.
posted by zippy at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Leftcoastbob, we do this in Minnesota too. Talking about the weather is considered a socially acceptable conversation with strangers and small talk in elevators, etc. "How about those Vikings?" also acceptable in season, if we think you're from around here. You can ask about the Twins, but it's rarer. No one makes small talk about the Wild or Twolves.
posted by Molly Razor at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


House tours are apparently required for all dinner guests, and adult stuff in general, but not for playdates. You don't have to clean your bedroom if the adults are bringing children along. I have no idea why this is.

And in Uganda, at least the part I lived in, people point with their chins and say yes by raising their eyebrows. Which is extremely confusing when you move there and then extremely confusing again when you move home and people ask you a question and you raise your eyebrows and they're like WTF why are you not answering me.

That's all my commentary on this article. Thank you for listening.
posted by gerstle at 8:45 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Do peopdirect soy sauce on rice and eat it? That seems weird. Of course I have no problem whatsoever using the rice to soak up teriyaki sauce or whatever and then eat it, but directly applying soy seems off.
posted by Artw at 8:54 AM on October 6, 2013


ThePinkSuperhero: "You just made me sad almost everyone I know rents. That DOES sound like fun!"

There's a whole subculture of otherwise totally normal people who get their jollies touring open houses, especially of houses they could never afford. You should try it, it's fun!

And once I'd been looking at houses unsuccessfully for a while, I e-mailed my realtor one day and I was like, "This house looks INSANE, I would never buy it but I am DYING to see it in person," and she said, "Oh, good, I have been desperate for someone to tour it because it looks SO WEIRD. I'll set it up and we'll go gawk!" Even Realtors want to look at (weirdo) houses. :) (It had a custom gun rack, which is not usual around here, and a pass-through window from the kitchen into the bathroom, apparently seriously so that the wife could pass food in to her husband while he was on the can, and they could chat while she was cooking and he was pooping. It was custom-built and they lived there for 30 years, so there was a lot of time for the weirdness to accumulate. They had unusual taste in decorating, too, like a second bathroom with walls built out of colored glass blocks, and the master bath had black fixtures and a tub big enough to drown a standing man. You had to climb up and down steps to get into it.)

(Also, there is totally a King of the Hill about this, too, where Peggy and the ladies want to go look at a murder house that's on the market. Because King of the Hill encompasses all things American, eventually.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:54 AM on October 6, 2013 [23 favorites]


"My neighborhood association makes almost its entirely yearly budget from charging people $25 a head to tour houses decorated for Christmas every year. It's in December but we have to turn on ticket sales at Labor Day or we get besieged with people calling to ask when they can buy tickets."

octothorpe, I've reread this comment like 6 times and still can't decide whether it's satirical.
posted by estlin at 8:55 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're not rude, anyway. We're just direct.

This is a Northeastern city thing. Boston is often considered unfriendly because generally folks avoid greeting or even making eye contact with strangers. I can't quite explain why, I just some how know from growing up in New England, but I think of this seeming asocial behavior as politeness. Don't bother other people. Let them go about their day in peace. I think of it as an extention of "Good fences make good neighbors." Or maybe it's the Golden Rule - I don't really want to strain my social skills on my way to and from work, I just want to get home.

But if you look lost staring at a subway map, people will often approach you to ask if you need help. People are generally pleased to be able to give directions because they are helping people AND they get to show off what they know about the neighborhood.
posted by maryr at 9:01 AM on October 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


estlin: "octothorpe, I've reread this comment like 6 times and still can't decide whether it's satirical."

Christmas house tours are totally a thing, as are summer garden tours. I even went on a single-house tour that funded a local chorale a couple years back (they'd hired kind-of a high-profile architect to build a house unusual for the area). The most popular are in neighborhoods with historical houses or rich-people houses. It's a big deal to have your house chosen. Our local historical society's Christmas house tour will be $15 a head this year (a quick google tells me) and showcase 5 houses, two owned by organizations and three owned and lived in by private families. They will sell a zillion tickets and my facebook feed will be FULL of people touring these houses that weekend.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:05 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't talk at the barber, generally, and I was surprised when, in small-town Texas the barber, an older gentleman, was down-right chatty. I kept thinking "ok, you're bored, but could you please just shut up..." I felt bad about it later. It was a good haircut, too.
I used to go to the Polish women when I lived in Brooklyn and now I go to the Turkish guy up the street and honestly, I always feel like if I bring a book they're kind of glad.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:10 AM on October 6, 2013


It had... a pass-through window from the kitchen into the bathroom, apparently seriously so that the wife could pass food in to her husband while he was on the can, and they could chat while she was cooking and he was pooping.

What what what? You actually saw this?
posted by sfkiddo at 9:11 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, my cultural tip:

* In Boston, jaywalking is the norm, but there are still intersections that where it is dangerous to cross against the light. Observe the locals - if they're waiting at a crosswalk, they mean it. There are a couple intersections where the pedestrians traffic is so heavy it's hard for cars to cross.

* In the suburbs, always cross at corners and lights, but if there's no traffic, obviously it's safe. But fewer people walk, so drivers aren't necessarily looking out for pedestrians. On the other hand, if you're waiting at a crosswalk, cars are likely to stop and let you cross.

* In San Francisco, they actually ticket for jay walking AND the cars aren't expecting it, so walk to the corner and cross there. Also watch out for bikes.
posted by maryr at 9:12 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a total Rightmove tourist and regularly share around links to houses in our area for other people I know to gawk at them.
posted by emilyw at 9:14 AM on October 6, 2013


People do NOT save "please" (pot favor) after you say "thank you" (gracias) in Argentina ever.

In Slovenia, you say "prosim" (please) after "hvala" (thank you). I didn't give it two thoughts, until someone followed that sequence in English as well.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:15 AM on October 6, 2013


emilyw: "In the UK I've only ever seen the house tour thing as a kind of celebration of having recently finally moved up the housing ladder in some notable fashion. Like, the first time you have your own house (rented or otherwise), or the first time you have what you consider to be a nice house instead of a slum landlord setup. Or if you have recently redecorated."

This kind of explains why Americans always give the house tour; we are the same way, it's just that we want to believe that we are perpetually moving up that ladder, and that every single time people visit our homes we have just bettered our stations. This has its upsides and downsides, but it seems to be true in general.
posted by koeselitz at 9:15 AM on October 6, 2013


Buybacks occur only in New York? I thought this was common everywhere in the US.
posted by caddis at 9:18 AM on October 6, 2013


A Taiwanese friend pointed out to me that where she was studying in northern Florida, nobody ever said “thank you” or “you’re welcome” ever. Instead, they said “‘preciate it,” and the answer was “no problem.”

Actually, I've found that "you're welcome" has become obsolescent in the US in general. (Notice I said obsolescent, not obsolete.)
posted by John Cohen at 9:21 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've always felt so embarrassed by the house tour. Why are you showing me your bedrooms? Your bathrooms? Why not show me your undie drawer as well? And I agree that it does seem a very middle class, consumer-y thing to do. In my mind it seems related to the weirdness of people saying "congratulations!" when you've bought a car. It's not an achievement. I guess it could sort of be viewed as an achievement if you knew the person had saved up the full purchase price in cash, but since most people are taking out loans, and probably for more car than is prudent, it really, really doesn't make sense.

Also, there are lots of things I love about men and the materializing to push a car out of snow is one of them. It's very cool.
posted by HotToddy at 9:22 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


MIGHT say the equivalent of "no problem" (por nada) but this is like .005% of the time.

Young store clerks say this ALL the time if you say thanks for something. And I'm not sure how or when the roles changed but it seems as if the customers are always saying thanks and not the other way around.

Also on the Asian "have you eaten" greeting, the Mien people from the hills of Laos and China ask that routinely as a greeting, from my experience with them.
posted by etaoin at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2013


When I was in Australia people would say "that's okay" after I said "thank you," which was a bit jarring because I usually think of that as a response when you apologize for maybe putting someone out a bit. I guess it's along the lines of "no problem" though which I'm more used to. I still see plenty of people say "you're welcome" though.
posted by sweetkid at 9:27 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Asian people greet their friends with “have you eaten.” Most of the time it’s a courtesy question; the answer is “yes,” or “don’t worry, I’ll eat later.”


On the other hand, if I am visiting relatives, this is a courtesy question in the sense that they will eat with you anyway regardless of what the answer was. Otherwise though, it's a true courtesy question.

Loosen your belts, Hainan chicken rice is on the table.

I think the presumption in any big US city is that anyone who comes up saying "Excuse me, I wonder if you could..." is a panhandler.

Correct. Only panhandlers say excuse me, and if you spend enough time in a city you don't even hear them anymore. One cannot give money to every panhandler that asks.

I never say no to direct asks for directions when I know the answer. If you frontload where you are going in your ask it helps me determine if I know the answer faster, helping both of us.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 9:29 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I give the house tour, I don't include the bedrooms except to vaguely gesture at the doors. My house is not very large anyway, so it's basically "here do a 360-degree turn, and then down this hallway is the bathroom." After I've known you for a while, or if it comes up, though, I will take you into my sty of a bedroom to show off the ridiculously enormous bright red bathtub that is in sort of an annex of my master bedroom. Not in the bathroom. In the bedroom. We did not put it there, nor did we choose the bright red shag carpeting that originally covered the entire bedroom, including the tub surround -- it went right up the sides and right to the edge of the bathtub.

I realized though that I actually EXPECT the house tour! I visited a friend's place for the first time last week; she's a very private person, and while we did eventually go into every room in her condo, she didn't give the nickel tour at the beginning. I completely and utterly respect this, of course, because I am not a horrible human being, but it did leave me with a vague feeling of discomfort and unwelcome that bothered me a lot until I managed to identify it. This is obviously my own issue and not anything anyone else needs to mitigate -- I just found it really odd that I would expect such a thing.
posted by KathrynT at 9:29 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


One exception to "excuse me" when asking for directions was when I had just stepped off the Chinatown bus in New York, a city where I do not live, at 7 in the morning, and a Chinese man asked me for directions in Cantonese. "Excuse me, how do I get to the bus stop?"

So to reiterate, I was asked for directions in a city that I don't live in, using a language I have only the most rudimentary, broken grasp of, and he asked for the one location that I knew of because he was lucky.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 9:31 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


JohnnyGunn: "Wait, you don't tip your bartenders in England?"

walrus: "No, we have this strange tradition of paying them higher wages than the US instead."

Actually, average bartender wages seem pretty similar between the US and the UK. And since health care is tied to employment here in the US, that generally means most bartenders will also have health care. So - this isn't the hideous American hellscape you're looking for. It appears that tipping is a standard practice pretty much everywhere besides the UK.
posted by koeselitz at 9:33 AM on October 6, 2013


sfkiddo: "It had... a pass-through window from the kitchen into the bathroom, apparently seriously so that the wife could pass food in to her husband while he was on the can, and they could chat while she was cooking and he was pooping.

What what what? You actually saw this?
"

YES. It was about 8" x 8" and had a little door that slid shut, I guess in case you had company that wanted to use the bathroom without being observed from the kitchen? And it wasn't a weird renovation, this was a custom-built home and the owner was the architect, it was there on purpose. This is a small town and everyone sort-of knows each other; the Realtor said she'd head from one of his wife's friends that she'd make him sandwiches and hand them through. We tried to imagine a legitimate purpose for it -- storing necessary meds so they were accessible from the bathroom AND the kitchen? -- but we really couldn't. The whole house was like that; you'd try to imagine why someone would put THAT in a house, but couldn't quite come up with who would have a life where this was a necessary or good idea. But the kitchen-bathroom sandwich window was definitely the weirdest one.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:36 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


My god, the House Tour custom sounds like a nightmare. We live like hoarding bears, so it's exhausting enough to clean the one room I've decided to use for the evening. I'll clear a path to the bathroom, but after that, all invited guests must stay put for the evening. We have walls, ceilings, working plumbing, and appliances necessary for modern living. That's all you need to know.

And when people give me a tour of their house, I'm just jealous because they are so clean and tidy, and therefore they are much better people that me.
posted by bibliowench at 9:37 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Some years back, a friend from California was visiting us in Colorado for the first time, so I was taking him on a little tour of the area. On the drive into Denver (I'm in a suburb), I was trying to dispel a bunch of the strange misconceptions he had about the state being the Wild West. I pulled into a parking lot and we were fishing around trying to find $5 in cash to pay for parking when a GIGANTIC JOVIAL COWBOY in a white leisure suit, fancy cowboy boots and a ten gallon hat greeted us effusively, insisted on paying for our parking, and welcomed my friend to Colorado.

I still have a little nagging notion that maybe I've just become so acclimated to our friendly cowboys that I don't even notice them unless there's someone else there to say I told you so.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:40 AM on October 6, 2013 [32 favorites]


Oh. That cowboy story is not meant to imply that this is generalizable. I'm just copping to the fact that Colorado is basically one big themed amusement park with mascots and stuff.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:43 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The gracias/por favor bit that Iosephus explicated didn't seem unusual to me at all, because it's the exact same in german: danke/bitte. Given a set of two, I'd be unsurprised to find other languages with that pattern as well.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:46 AM on October 6, 2013


I still have a little nagging notion that maybe I've just become so acclimated to our friendly cowboys that I don't even notice them unless there's someone else there to say I told you so.

I lived in Denver in the early 90s and noticed a lot of older men wearing expensive-looking cowboy hats as what appeared to be nice, everyday wear. More "I'm a rancher businessman" and less "Yee-haw!" Since moving back to Colorado ten years ago, I don't see them anymore, and I can't tell if that's because hats are a Front Range thing (I'm in the Springs), because they've gone out of fashion, or because I'm simply too acclimated to Colorado to notice them anymore.
posted by bibliowench at 9:49 AM on October 6, 2013


Actually, average bartender wages seem pretty similar between the US and the UK.

The US figures you cite include tips. (It's taken for granted on that page, but specified on this one.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 9:52 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The gracias/por favor bit that Iosephus explicated didn't seem unusual to me at all, because it's the exact same in german: danke/bitte. Given a set of two, I'd be unsurprised to find other languages with that pattern as well.

Also, Modern Hebrew: todah rabbah/bevakashah.
posted by Shmuel510 at 9:56 AM on October 6, 2013


If you are a served a stack of warm tortillas, Mexicans will take tortillas from the middle, and not the top. They will presume that you are smart enough to do the same. That top tortilla gets crusty and dry, but it keeps the middle ones steamy hot.

Here's a tip I figured out recently. When you serve a stack of warm tortillas, flip them over. The top one will be steamy hot, and by the time you get to the bottom one, it will be too.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 10:00 AM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


The car thing is true everywhere.

I've certainly never seen anyone pushing a car alone for more than a few seconds long anywhere in North America. It seems to be the one case in which everyone instinctively understands "pay it forward". Though "get that car away from the road as quickly as possible" may be part of it in some cases.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:00 AM on October 6, 2013


Buybacks occur only in New York? I thought this was common everywhere in the US.

I've only ever had it in NYC, but the only region I can definitively rule out as not having it occur is Southern California. The only perk I ever got at the bar I used to live next to was that the waitresses recognized my roommate and I well enough that we'd get to start a tab without giving them a card.
posted by LionIndex at 10:01 AM on October 6, 2013


Grew up in WASPy suburban and rural New England. Saying thank you, as a customer to the cashier, seems normal. I suppose because payment isn't thanks, or we pretend it's not there.
posted by zippy at 10:02 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure it is cultural or classist.

Not saying it's classist, just that it's a class marker. Upper class people - not upper middle-class, but upper-class, generationally wealthy people rarely seem to do this, at least in the Northeast.

No, we have this strange tradition of paying them higher wages than the US instead

I wouldn't be entirely sure that the wages always end up higher in the UK, despite the averages. A professional bartender in the US can make hundreds and hundreds of dollars in two or three nights' work per week, leaving plenty of time for other things, income-producing or not. It can be a very good living. There is an enormous range of job slots that includes bartending at Chili's or Applebee's to bartending at a high-end restaurant or hotel bar where tips can be extravagant, or bartending at a local favorite busy regulars' pub where people are consistently generous and steady in their patronage. In the top half of that range you can out-earn many a more 'professional' worker. There are problems with our tip system, but that doesn't always mean tipped workers are going home with a lower total gross income.

There's a whole subculture of otherwise totally normal people who get their jollies touring open houses, especially of houses they could never afford. You should try it, it's fun!


Yeah, it's common. I'm hosting some Christmas house tours here which fundraise for the Historical Society - it's also the biggest fundraiser of the year. But in my job, I also manage tours of historic houses - museum houses - and despite our efforts to use the houses to teach about time periods, biographies, historical episodes, etc., when we survey our visitors a large majority of them say "Oh, I just wanted to see inside the house." There's something nosy/primal about it. People can't stand a closed door.

Boston is often considered unfriendly because generally folks avoid greeting or even making eye contact with strangers.

This is funny to me because people say that about New York too, and while I feel it is not true about New York, I do think it's true of Boston. I find Boston a lot colder and unfriendlier than New York. And I don't think people are as efficient and organized about moving around, the way New Yorkers are, which is a form of consideration for others. I can't get on the T without wanting to holler "move in, people."

I can't imagine not saying thanks to a cashier. They're not the one keeping my money, they're the one serving me by recording the transaction and packaging my purchase and saying hello and all that. I'm thanking them for their work to assist me.
posted by Miko at 10:08 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually, average bartender wages seem pretty similar between the US and the UK. And since health care is tied to employment here in the US, that generally means most bartenders will also have health care. So - this isn't the hideous American hellscape you're looking for. It appears that tipping is a standard practice pretty much everywhere besides the UK.

I believe you'll find those averages include gratuities, so in terms of the salary, we do indeed pay higher wages. But I wasn't trying to criticise your culture, just explaining the differences. The healthcare aspect is a red herring though; we all get free healthcare in the UK. Also you're incorrect to state that tipping doesn't happen in the UK. It's quite common in restaurants these days, but it's never been assumed that you have to here. It's something we do if the service is good.
posted by walrus at 10:16 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I was growing up in the Boston area, my experience the house tour usually had the doors closed, it was more directions so you'd know which doors to open (bathroom, friend's room) and which not to (their parents' room, any other parent used room).

These days, I'm in New York and most of my friends have 1 bedroom or studios. Studio apartments need no tour and one bedrooms, well, I tend to see the bedroom because its where your store your coats.

essexjan: seeing two of the physical plant workers (one from Laos, one white) I was working with one summer at college do this dialogue was one of the funniest things ever. The white guy just started with "so are you Chinese or Japanese?" and they fell into the dialogue.
posted by Hactar at 10:19 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm thanking them for their work to assist me.

This is not really on topic, but a while ago, I started thanking cashiers and retail staff who were present at the store during difficult times; on Black Friday, during the Christmas shopping madness, working on holidays like Thanksgiving or Labor Day, etc. Looking someone in the eye and saying "Thank you for working today so that I could get the butter I forgot last night / more potato salad for the zillion people who showed up at my picnic / this really sweet deal on a TV / whatever" has dramatically improved my last-minute shopping experiences, and the retail staff seem to really appreciate it. I had a guy at Toys R Us give me a look of overwhelming gratitude and say "That is the nicest thing that has happened to me in about a week" when I thanked him for working on December 21st so that I could run out and grab the one toy my daughter had just told the department store Santa she wanted more than anything else in the world.
posted by KathrynT at 10:22 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think both parties in a sales transaction should thank each other. "Thank you for buying something" and "thank you for selling me something". It's not like the customer doesn't benefit from the transaction too.

I can't imagine showing someone round my house. I don't have any fancy art or interesting nooks and crannies. There's not really a lot to see, at least not stuff that people probably don't already have in their own houses.
posted by Solomon at 10:23 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


since health care is tied to employment here in the US, that generally means most bartenders will also have health care.

Bartenders? Heck no. I've worked in 4 fine dining, high-tip restaurants. No healthcare in any of them. It's extremely rare in the service industry, and only a few of the national chains even make a gesture toward it, and even then it usually doesn't apply to many of the staff who don't meet the minimum requirement for hours.
posted by Miko at 10:24 AM on October 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


KathrynT, my SO does that and it has set a really good example for me. He tends to make sure it's something relevant and sincere -- "Thanks for being here for us on such a crazy day" on the crazy Sunday in the grocery store, for instance. Can't speak for everyone, but it usually seems to be appreciated. Thinking back to my retail stints, it was always a pleasure to have any break in the dead boring ritual of ringing up, saying the total price due, and taking payment. Just any unique human moment can vastly improve a dull day at the register.
posted by Miko at 10:26 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


(Colorado Springs isn't considered the Front Range?)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:27 AM on October 6, 2013


There is an enormous range of job slots that includes bartending at Chili's or Applebee's to bartending at a high-end restaurant or hotel bar where tips can be extravagant, or bartending at a local favorite busy regulars' pub where people are consistently generous and steady in their patronage.

I'd say that's probably very similar everywhere. As has been pointed out earlier in the thread, people will sometimes but not always buy the bar staff drinks as part of a round here, and that's polite code really for leaving a tip, because it goes onto the pro-tab rather than being quaffed immediately. I don't tend to frequent high-end hotel bars, but I suspect that's more lucrative in that way.
posted by walrus at 10:31 AM on October 6, 2013


(Colorado Springs isn't considered the Front Range?)
Technically I guess it is, but it seems to be applied more to the Northern part of the state (Denver/Boulder/Greeley). Also, I could not know what I'm talking about.
posted by bibliowench at 10:31 AM on October 6, 2013


we found an interior, unused closet with so many nails hammered into the doorframe it looked likesomething out of an arty serial killer movie

You found a boarded up old nailed-shut door to a seemingly empty room and you opened it?

You are literally the guy in the horror movie who says HA HA HOW BAD COULD IT BE and gets every last one of us killed.
posted by elizardbits at 10:37 AM on October 6, 2013 [40 favorites]


So, late one night, I'm walking back to my place south of Market in San Francisco. I see these two guys pushing a car along Market street so, feeling a little friendly, and in my cups, I jump in and start pushing along with them. Next thing I know we are surrounded by flashing red and blue lights and I am up against the car with a cop going through my wallet. Turns out these guys were stealing the car but couldn't get it started. Somehow I managed to convince the cops of my story and they let me go. Conclusion: Seattle, maybe; San Francisco, forget it.
posted by charlesminus at 10:38 AM on October 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


So. Just got back from the local siupermarket here in Edinburgh. The check-out queue is a bit complicated as they've installed a rack of self-check-out tills at right angles to the manned tills, and there's some of that labyrinth elastic-fencing-on-poles stuff to tell you where to go.

At exactly the worst point a tall American guy was standing - he could be a tourist or a student, as there are plenty of both. It looked as if he was queuing for either of the check-out options - it was the point at which the queues split - and you couldn't easily get past him. So, a single queue built up behind him, but he wasn't moving. eventually, someone asked him "Which queue are you in?" (both, of course, were empty beyond him).

"I'm just waiting for a friend" he said.

"Oh" said the shopper, well, can I get past you then?"

"Of course."

"Thanks" - said with just a hint of impatience and annoyance

"Hey, no problem" said the tall American. As if he was doing the guy a huge favour, but really it wasn't too much trouble.

He carried on standing there, and the same thing repeated itself shortly aftewards.

It wasn't so much that the guy had picked the very worst spot in the shop to 'wait for his friend', but that the additional 'no problem' when there WAS a problem, and he was it, made it doubly annoying.

Good thing this wasn't Glasgow.. Social quirks can be dangerous to your well-being.
posted by Devonian at 10:38 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


You found a boarded up old nailed-shut door to a seemingly empty room and you opened it?

Relax I had salt on hand.
posted by The Whelk at 10:52 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


no one told the texas bartenders i've known to not drink on the job. buying them drinks and good tipping is a well worn path to heavy drinks and preferential service.
posted by nadawi at 10:57 AM on October 6, 2013


Yep. In the UK, the done thing is to use "Oriental" to describe people from China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

Not in my experience. I would find this quite weird.
posted by knapah at 5:13 AM on October 6 [4 favorites +] [!]



This isn't common in London in my experience ( well there's The School of Oriental and African Studies, and you still find Oriental Studies in universities sometimes here, but that's a legacy formal name) but I wouldn't bat an eyelid if someone used it, most likely if they say "Oriental gentlemen/ladies". Might be used in regional colloquial English outside of London, but I'm not aware of it.
posted by Bwithh at 10:59 AM on October 6, 2013


Re "Gracias/Por Favor" as compared to other languages with a "two term" system.

I think the reasons Americans find "por favor" as a "you're welcome" substitute strange is that, if you study Spanish in school or really have any familiarity with the language at all, you'll most likely learn that "de nada" is Spanish for "you're welcome". Which it is in some parts of the Spanish speaking world. But not in others. And, like English, it probably depends heavily on levels of formality, local custom, etc.

So I don't think the issue is that Spanish has two terms to be used in these types of exchanges where English has more, it's that Spanish is as widely variable as English in terms of whether you're going to say "You're welcome", "No problem", "Don't worry about it," "No big deal", etc. Of which, in Spanish, "Por favor" is one of the options.

I similarly remember being confused in high school Spanish with the number of terms for "of course". English only has one way to say that, so why are there THREE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THINGS on this flash card?
posted by Sara C. at 11:00 AM on October 6, 2013


octothorpe, I've reread this comment like 6 times and still can't decide whether it's satirical.

Huh? No. Website's in my profile.
posted by octothorpe at 11:10 AM on October 6, 2013


In the Netherlands, if you go and visit someone on their birthday and they have family over, you’re expected to congratulate not just the person having a birthday, but also all their family members.
Then everyone sits in a circle and eats cake.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:11 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Buybacks are key. I expect 1/4 of the drinks to be buybacks at the very least.

I've also rarely seen a bartender turn down a drink. I don't buy drinks for bartenders unless I know them fairly well though. Some bars, which will remain nameless, the bartenders immediately spit the shots back out into a beer bottle. I don't go to those places. Ive seen bartenders fired for being too drunk to work a couple times.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:17 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "(Colorado Springs isn't considered the Front Range?)"

bibliowench: "Technically I guess it is, but it seems to be applied more to the Northern part of the state (Denver/Boulder/Greeley). Also, I could not know what I'm talking about."

In my experience, the "Front Range" is the mountains as they face out onto the Great Plains. The mountains above Colorado Springs really don't face directly onto the Great Plains; there's still a big mess of hill country to the east of Springs, even past Coral Bluffs, though it does flatten out a lot. Moving east from Boulder, on the contrary, it's exactly as flat as Nebraska almost immediately. There are chunks of Denver that already are that flat before you leave town; Aurora, for instance.
posted by koeselitz at 11:19 AM on October 6, 2013


When people come over to my house I usually welcome them with WHY ARE YOU HERE AND HOW DID YOU FIND ME. Then I hover in the half-opened doorway menacingly until they leave.
posted by elizardbits at 11:20 AM on October 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


I am Korean and I don't ever recall "have you eaten" being used as a greeting - Korean has a whole set of terms used for greetings, of which you pick one bearing context in mind, including your social standing and age relative to the person you are greeting. If a Korean person asks you if you've eaten, it's as a preamble to offering food or suggesting getting food together.

The soy sauce and rice thing got me thinking, and I don't ever recall putting soy sauce on rice, or having a container of soy sauce at the table at home or any of my relatives. My dad would sometimes eat tamago gohan with soy sauce, and my mom thought it was the weirdest thing ever. Soy sauce mixed with vinegar does make an appearance at the table when eating dumplings (mandu), or a Seoul area specialty, thinly sliced cold boiled beef. In that case the soy sauce and vinegar mixture is served in dipping bowls.

In conclusion, I agree with everybody saying that "Asian" is a ridiculously broad category.
posted by needled at 11:26 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The really bizarre assumption underlying the soy sauce thing is that it only makes sense if "Asian restaurants" served rice and nothing else.
posted by kmz at 11:28 AM on October 6, 2013


I find people's discussions of local geographic nomenclature infinitely more interesting than some dude's bathroom-reader level generalizations about culture.

I would also love a discussion of the American expression "I could eat". Usually it's in reply to a genuine question of "Have you eaten?", but implies that one would be willing to eat something as a social activity.
posted by Sara C. at 11:30 AM on October 6, 2013


In Quonsakistan, people bork the foon.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:31 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


The really bizarre assumption underlying the soy sauce thing is that it only makes sense if "Asian restaurants" served rice and nothing else.

I think the point is that white people in said restaurants are using the soy sauce "wrong", except it's stated in a really clumsy and also incorrect way.

I'm prepared to believe that there is some bizarro universe (possibly a PF Chang's in Wisconsin) where white people put soy sauce on plain rice, despite that not being a common use of soy sauce in China.

Except... who cares? In Chile they put mayonnaise on hot dogs, which is not traditional in the US, but more power to them, I guess. In Germany they put curry on sausages, which I'm pretty sure is not an intended use of curry in curry eating Asian cultures. BFD.
posted by Sara C. at 11:35 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've even heard of certain ridiculous cultures putting ketchup on hotdogs. *shakes head sadly*

(OK, the "have you eaten" thing is weird too. I don't think I've ever seen that used in Beijing as a greeting. Something in the normal course of conversation? Sure. But not to replace "ni hao".)
posted by kmz at 11:39 AM on October 6, 2013


I have put soy sauce on white rice cause that was literally the only thing I had in the fringe and I figured Carb+Salt+tiny bit of protein would keep me going for a LITTLE while at least.
posted by The Whelk at 11:40 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mayonaise on hot dogs, you say? how about daikon or endamame
Try vancouver based Japadog!
posted by chapps at 11:40 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I put Sririacha on everything. EVERYTHING.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:42 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


that explains why your goldfish died Bunny.
posted by The Whelk at 11:45 AM on October 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


i've had to explain to a few non-southerners that "preciatcha" is "I appreciate you" and can loosely stand in for thanks. there have also been long talks about the differences between "preciate-it" and "preciatcha"
posted by nadawi at 11:45 AM on October 6, 2013


Well Japadog has an especially peculiar history being a Pacific Northwest version of a Japanese interpretation of a food brought to the US by German immigrants.
posted by modernserf at 11:47 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


When people come over to my house I usually welcome them with

Apparently, later in his life Genet would let less welcome guests into his home, but offer them no refreshments and respond in short answers to any questions. If the guests persisted, he would not turn on any lights, and the room would get darker and darker until the unnerved interlopers fled. Perhaps you could cultivate this tactic.

Or, you know, throw spiders on them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:47 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Although there are lots of too-broad generalizations on the list, I think it is fun to try and capture neighbourhood or city-based quirks and practices.

I am told it is not normal outside of Victoria BC to thank the bus driver when you get off the bus. Here we have a chorus of "thanks! thanks! thanks!" when you get to the end of the line (Is this true or is it happening elsewhere?).
posted by chapps at 11:48 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


OMG guys I realized what this whole thing reminds me of.

I have a friend who taught English in China for a while. She has a lot of stories of patronizing local businesses and having to ask for things that were locally unusual. The story I remember has to do with choosing a particular color of nail polish in a nail salon, but I think it happened a few times in other businesses, and I know I've heard similar stories from other people.

Inevitably, the people running the business would at first be like THAT IS SO WEIRD WHY WOULD YOU WANT THAT. But then, in a few weeks, they would be advertising her quirky individual choice as "Traditional American Manicure!" with a sign in the window. And, again, this isn't, like, her picking red or pink nail polish and telling them it's the traditional choice in the US. It's just whatever she happened to pick that day. Any choice she made would be generalized as American Style, sometimes to hilarious effect.
posted by Sara C. at 11:49 AM on October 6, 2013 [29 favorites]


The house tour thing is something my parents would do (or that their friends would do) but my friends never do it. They might show you something in the other room if they have something cool there, but you usually have to ask where the bathroom is. I think the only time any of my friends have done the tour is as a joke when they live in a studio and can point dramatically at the different "rooms". (I'm in my twenties and in NM.)
posted by NoraReed at 11:55 AM on October 6, 2013


There is a fair amount of thanking the bus driver where I live in SW England.
posted by biffa at 11:55 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am told it is not normal outside of Victoria BC to thank the bus driver when you get off the bus.

I've never been in a place where it was obligatory, but throughout the US it's a pretty normal thing to encounter. Also, thanking the cashier. I didn't know there were people who didn't do that. You pay the cashier, they hand you something, and when somebody hands me something, I say "thank you" -- it's a reflex. I could no more not do it than I could turn the wheel of my car without signalling.
posted by escabeche at 11:57 AM on October 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


I am told it is not normal outside of Victoria BC to thank the bus driver when you get off the bus.

I don't know about "normal" or universal or whatever, but I've never even been to British Columbia and I always thank the driver if the bus isn't very crowded when I get off.

I think that's the crux of it, though. There is a lot of gray area between "quirky thing some individuals do" and "traditional".

The "African-Americans Greet Each Other!" sign is something I can totally see existing in Harlem, for example. Not because it is traditional for African-Americans to greet each other, but because it falls into a particular category of local quirk I've noticed. It's in line with the Rent Is Too Damn High candidate for mayor, the Gray's Papaya insistence that their fruit drinks are some kind of panacea, the Soup Nazi, and infinite other examples of the fact that, in a city of eight million people, there are going to be a lot of interesting local cranks.
posted by Sara C. at 11:58 AM on October 6, 2013


And when you get away from the city, you have to perfect your Country Wave.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:01 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just had to say it: These comments are a million times better than the original post.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:03 PM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]



Well Japadog has an especially peculiar history being a Pacific Northwest version of a Japanese interpretation of a food brought to the US by German immigrants.
posted by modernserf at 11:47 AM on October 6 [+] [!]


The typical, very popular Japanese curry sauce in Japan is actually a version based on of British curry powder, which itself is a crude Westernization/simplification of Indian curry traditions. British curry powder became popular in Japan as a sign of Western influence as Japan modernized
posted by Bwithh at 12:04 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sometimes, black people greet each other when there are very few black people around. Like in a predominantly white area or workplace. For the same reason that women greet each other at sausage parties. Just sort of a "Hey, it's you and me, huh?"

White people do it, too. I think we just don't associate that with white people because it we're not visible minorities in the US very often.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:05 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I put Sririacha on everything. EVERYTHING.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:42 AM on October 6 [1 favorite +] [!]


Sririacha is as American as apple pie!
posted by Bwithh at 12:05 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've said thank you on the bus in Brooklyn and have seen others do it. Then again I hardly ever take the bus and when I do I'm usually terrified of missing my stop the entire time, where everyone around me sort of ho hum knows when to press the button, so I breathlessly ask the driver what to do, and then he (most times he) tells me when we're there, just me, and I'm grateful and think a thank you is in order.
posted by sweetkid at 12:06 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember my family being all LETS GIVE YOU THE GRAND TOUR! when we moved into our first house that my parents actually owned as opposed to a crummy apartment. But I think that was just for family and close friends who were excited for my parents to have bought a house.

I kind of wonder if the whole tradition doesn't stem from the post-WW2 move to suburbia, and a mass cultural moment where a lot of people were homeowners for the first time. Which was paired with cultural excitement about the existence of suburban housing developments, as well as a time when new technology was largely centered around the domestic space. So someone you knew would buy a house in one of those fancy new housing developments, and you'd go pay a visit and they'd have a TON of cool stuff to show you, like the TV and the Hi Fi and the washing machine, etc. And this would be a genuine novelty for everyone, and something you could all be excited about.

I think this sort of social excitement has been replaced by personal tech, so now we're all showing off our new phones and tablets and such. And even so, it's probably going to seem gauche in a few years to reflexively compare phones as a form of small talk.
posted by Sara C. at 12:07 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


black people greet each other when there are very few black people around. Like in a predominantly white area or workplace.

They do? I've never heard of this.
posted by sweetkid at 12:07 PM on October 6, 2013


Also on the soy sauce on rice topic, I just put mango pickle on farro salad and I'm sure my Indian and Italian ancestors would have been confused but hey America I'm bout that life.
posted by sweetkid at 12:08 PM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


And when you get away from the city, you have to perfect your Country Wave

One of my grandfather's hobbies was driving around waving at people. He particularly enjoyed waving at people carrying things or pushing a wheelbarrow. He lived in the middle of farmland so he could always catch a couple people pushing a wheelbarrow. They would set down the wheelbarrow carefully, wave, then lift the wheelbarrow and keep walking.

He told me once he found a farmer carrying 2 buckets in a muddy field. He waved at the guy, the guy set down his buckets and waved back, tried to pick up his buckets but they were stuck in the mud. My grandfather claims he drove around half a dozen times making the guy put down his buckets to wave.

Our whole family had a terrible reputation because of shit like this. I was walking down the road once and a farmer with a tractor stopped thinking I was lost or something, when he figured out who my grandfather was he just said "oh, you are one of them" and drove off.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:11 PM on October 6, 2013 [32 favorites]


heh, Ad hominem, my Dad has the same story but relating to playing God Save The Queen at buffets when everyone has just sat down with their plate of food on their lap.
posted by emilyw at 12:14 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am all for condiment experimentation. Overly strict condiment rules are a prison for the taste buds. Lime pickle? Kimchi? Hot sauce? Mayo? Gochujang? Soy? Branston? All good on many different things in many different combinations. My meals are a UN of condiments!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:14 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


it's probably going to seem gauche in a few years to reflexively compare phones as a form of small talk.

I've got some news for you.
posted by escabeche at 12:14 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]



Our house tour (NYC): this is the living room. The bathroom is through the bedroom. That's it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen


You neglected to mention the nude rotting hag who exits the tub to greet visitors.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:19 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh those wacky non-whites!

7 of these items are about the US or European countries. Would you prefer he had omitted everything about nonwhites and only talked about whites? Then the comments would say: why is he only interested in white people?!
posted by John Cohen at 12:21 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've said thank you on the bus in Brooklyn and have seen others do it. Then again I hardly ever take the bus and when I do I'm usually terrified of missing my stop the entire time....

Huh. I always thank the bus driver; maybe it's another suburban WASPy Connecticut holdover.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:27 PM on October 6, 2013


Oh, I know it already is gauche. But it's definitely done, especially anytime a new generation of smartphones comes out.

I got an iPhone 5 right when they came out last year and had to suffer constant "Is that the 5?" small talk anytime I took my phone out in public, for at least the first few months.

Last night I was at a party and someone had the 5s, and despite thinking it gauche and remembering how annoying it was when I was the one with the new phone, I totally asked if it was the 5s. Ugh.

So it's one of those things that is considered socially kind of questionable, but it definitely happens. However you would think it completely bizarre if you went to someone's house and they wanted to show you their new washing machine.
posted by Sara C. at 12:28 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


yea I'm not WASPy but still thank the bus driver. I've also seen plenty of people of color thank the bus driver.
posted by sweetkid at 12:28 PM on October 6, 2013


The typical, very popular Japanese curry sauce in Japan is actually a version based on of British curry powder, which itself is a crude Westernization/simplification of Indian curry traditions. British curry powder became popular in Japan as a sign of Western influence as Japan modernized
posted by Bwithh at 12:04 PM on October 6 [1 favorite +] [!]


oh, and one of the most common brands of Japanese curry sauce in supermarkets is "Vermont"... which I guess is a result of the primary "Western" signifier shifting from the UK to the US post WW2?

mmmmm... Vermont curry sauce!
posted by Bwithh at 12:30 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't get on the T without wanting to holler "move in, people."

This is the one generalization that I feel absolutely comfortable making about any group of people: T riders have a boneheaded habit of standing in front of the doors and not moving towards the center of the car. The aisle can be nearly empty in the middle of the car, and passengers will still crowd by the doors. In any other city with heavily-used public transit, the only people who do this are either tourists or drunk.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:30 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine not saying thanks to a cashier. They're not the one keeping my money

I agree you should thank cashiers, but they are keeping your money. Of course, they only get a small fraction of your money because they're low-skilled workers who are easily replaceable. But you are paying them indirectly. Though they don't earn much, they wouldn't be earning anything working there if not for people like you. Back when I worked in customer service, my boss told us the reason we should say "thank you" to customers is that we're implicitly saying "thank you for giving us our jobs."
posted by John Cohen at 12:31 PM on October 6, 2013


In any other city with heavily-used public transit, the only people who do this are either tourists or drunk.

No, it's not just tourists who do this. It is everywhere.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am all for condiment experimentation. Overly strict condiment rules are a prison for the taste buds. Lime pickle? Kimchi? Hot sauce? Mayo? Gochujang? Soy? Branston? All good on many different things in many different combinations. My meals are a UN of condiments!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:14 PM on October 6 [2 favorites −] [!]


Take a bottle of dark Chinese rice vinegar. Pour a good measure of it in a shot glass, neat. Inhale the bouquet for a moment. Now down it in one. Delicious!
posted by Bwithh at 12:36 PM on October 6, 2013


oh, oh, oh, and classic homestyle Chinese "sweet and sour" fried egg serving suggestion - sugar and rice vinegar. sprinkle it on top in the wok after the egg is solidified (make sure it is going very crispy; you need a wok with plenty of very hot oil for this). Don't go easy on the sugar. Or the vinegar. Add a bit more sugar and vinegar to taste, if needed, when you serve. So good. So unhealthy.
posted by Bwithh at 12:40 PM on October 6, 2013


Our house tour (NYC): this is the living room. The bathroom is through the bedroom. That's it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen

You neglected to mention the nude rotting hag who exits the tub to greet visitors.


That's on the 2nd floor.
posted by DLWM at 12:40 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a Canadian I find that when I get home after a long day of thanking and apologizing to people a nice bowl of white rice with soy sauce, butter and black pepper really hits the spot.
posted by islander at 12:44 PM on October 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


You guys are tricky with the "move in" business. I know you just want my door spot. Door spot is the best spot on the train. I ain't moving in so you can get just take the door spot. You could have had the door spot if you got in the train before me.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:46 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


The aisle can be nearly empty in the middle of the car, and passengers will still crowd by the doors. In any other city with heavily-used public transit, the only people who do this are either tourists or drunk.

People do the same thing here. Usually college students with gigantic book-bags strapped to their backs so that you can't get around them. It doesn't help that they never open the side doors on the buses here so that you always have to get on or off via the front door.
posted by octothorpe at 12:47 PM on October 6, 2013


I don't think that offering a house tour would be considered normal here (France) outside of friends or neighbours unless you've some recent refurbishing to show. But I can come up with something that French people find peculiar in the states (not in GB, obviously, notwithstanding the super friendliness I've always encountered in people from the Isles). All the French people who have returned from the U.S.A. have been struck by the american smile. "Putain, les gens sourient là-bas" : it's sort of a long-lost courtesy here, a secret that you still possess and makes a lasting impression, while providing another occasion to complain against our fellow countrymen.
posted by nicolin at 12:47 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I solve all these quandaries by avoiding contact with people at all times.

Oh, they're not so bad. You just have to get to know them. That's the dangerous part, because until then they aren't sure you're not just another meal.
posted by Twang at 12:49 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


What makes the door spot the best is you can lean insouciantly.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:49 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am told it is not normal outside of Victoria BC to thank the bus driver when you get off the bus. Here we have a chorus of "thanks! thanks! thanks!" when you get to the end of the line (Is this true or is it happening elsewhere?).

This is done in Edinburgh too!
posted by Flitcraft at 12:57 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


America has an entire television network based on people showing off the insides of their houses. (Much of the content is Canadian, oddly enough, one show of which put the lie to the notion that Canadians are invariably self-effacing and polite; but let's leave that observation for another time).

Do other countries televise Real Estate Porn?
posted by IndigoJones at 1:16 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Utah, when you move into a new house, the neighbors will come by and welcome you. If you don't somehow manage to bring it up, they'll figure out a way to ask you if you're a member of "The Church". If you're not, they won't say anything about it but they'll never speak to you again no matter how long you live there.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:18 PM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Am I the only one who is working class, here? We don't show off our houses, as pretty much every time we move, all our good friends have helped us move into it and have seen the whole thing.

Besides, the bedroom is shoved full of everything that normally sits on the love seat when no one is here.
posted by SuzySmith at 1:20 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


In NY, at parties, people new to each other usually will ask What do you do (ie, your job)
1. it indicates that where you are from does not matter any longer
2. that you have high or not so high status (income) job
3. that you are doing something.
posted by Postroad at 1:23 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having a "where the hell is my condiment soy sauce" breakfast moment here at local mediocre Chinese place . I mean, I order breakfast rice porridge with Chinese fried bread and thousand year egg and they hand me... a pepper shaker???( this would have been correct if I had ordered the fish rice porridge)
posted by Bwithh at 1:26 PM on October 6, 2013


> "At exactly the worst point a tall American guy was standing ..."

Speaking as an American living in Edinburgh (as of ... two and a half weeks ago), I'd just like to say his behavior was not related to his being American. Most likely, it was because he was a twit.
posted by kyrademon at 1:31 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The American house tour thing is so weird. I'm like "oh nice laundry room! Look- a beige carpet in your bedroom! A cat litter box, how interesting!". Then again I'm Irish and seeking praise or approval like that is not done here. Ever. If you won 10 Olympic medals, earned 15 million euro and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in the same year you'd either pretend you hadn't or say "ah, just luck". So the whole culture of inviting your friends over to admire your shiny new thing is extremely awkward making to me because my internal voice is going "this is so embarrassing, wtf are you doing?"

Instead of showing your our closets in Ireland we force cups of tea on you. Whether you want them or not. You may as well just give in and drink it. The thanking everyone for everything gets a bit out of control sometimes too.
posted by fshgrl at 1:32 PM on October 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


If you visit me you will not get a full house tour (unless you ask or are staying overnight). However, you will be dragged through the garage to see my garage bathroom where super shiny cheetahs, tigers and giraffes peacefully coexist to watch you poop.
posted by MaritaCov at 1:33 PM on October 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


House tours are fun.

I like fun.
posted by kyrademon at 1:40 PM on October 6, 2013


I was at a holiday party a couple of years ago, and the big deal after the food and carol singing was waiting for the hostess to break free so she could give a bunch of us the house tour. I still remember the nice quilt she had on one of her guest beds. Maybe it comes from all the women's magazines and TV shows telling us how to decorate.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:51 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


MaritaCov, love it! Did you decorate it that way or is it from a previous owner?
posted by futz at 1:56 PM on October 6, 2013


I'll add another probably-less-universal-than-I-think-it-is observation to the mix:

In India, if you stop someone to ask for directions, a great many people would rather give you vague, lousy directions than tell you they just don't know. I was told this was a conflict avoidance strategy, but who knows. In any case, often you'd follow, three, four, a dozen sets of terrible instructions (amplified by the lack of clearly designated street names and numbers and such) before you'd be close enough to your destination to find someone who actually knew where your destination was.

A corollary: Sikhs were generally much more willing to give clear directions when they knew where your destination was, much more willing to say they didn't know where it was if they didn't.

So a rule of thumb when travelling in India: When you need directions (and you will), if at all possible, ask a Sikh.
posted by gompa at 2:02 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks, MaritaCov, your friendly garage bathroom has successfully erased my trauma over hearing about the "pass-through" window between a kitchen and bathroom. I'm OK with bathrooms again.
posted by sfkiddo at 2:03 PM on October 6, 2013


The aisle can be nearly empty in the middle of the car, and passengers will still crowd by the doors. In any other city with heavily-used public transit, the only people who do this are either tourists or drunk.

The worst riders of this kinds are bus passengers in college towns, especially in states with weak transit culture (cough FLORIDA). Rural bumpkins and exurban twits refuse to move to the back of the bus, or grab both handrails to prevent two people from fitting where they are, or leave far too much space in between each other resulting in passengers being denied boarding on a "full bus."

Your right to a completely unjustifiable three foot bubble does not outweigh the rest of the student body's right to get home at a fucking reasonable hour. Those kids should be verbally abused by students attempting to board until they learn.

Each of those people should be flown to an Orange Line train in Washington, DC, any one of the Lexington Avenue trains in New York, or Admiralty station in Hong Kong to learn proper crowding of a transit vehicle. They don't even need to be sent to Tokyo's subway pushers to learn. Fuckers.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 2:04 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was my mother, an Englishwoman in Nigeria, that got me hooked on rice and butter. White rice, butter, and hot pepper sauce. So yummily delicious, so bad for the bowels.

Buses. I've always heard a chorus of Thank you, driver when disembarking wherever I've been in the UK. This chorus is led by the old ladies. Regional Bristolian variation is Cheers Drive. Say it like a pirate: *rumble* Churrs Droiv *end/rumble*

Oriental. While conveying acceptable meaning in an academic context - Orientalist, Gulbenkian Oriental Museum - to refer to an actual person this way would have very unfortunate connotations. It would be impossible not to think of the racist acronym. I have never heard anyone use the word so and if I did, I would assume they were racist in the twee, dishonest, dated way exemplified by the phrase "Our Coloured Friends." Which is a British thing and I don't think the nuance will travel.

Anyway, I like the article. The guy is a language teacher, has travelled a bit, has an eye for food! and obviously code-switching is a background norm for him. My guess is his heritage is Straits Chinese or Filipino, does anybody know?
posted by glasseyes at 2:15 PM on October 6, 2013


In India, if you stop someone to ask for directions, a great many people would rather give you vague, lousy directions than tell you they just don't know.

This seems pretty universal though linked to the level of "friendliness".
posted by Artw at 2:15 PM on October 6, 2013


yea people do that all over, I've found.
posted by sweetkid at 2:17 PM on October 6, 2013


It wasn't so much that the guy had picked the very worst spot in the shop to 'wait for his friend', but that the additional 'no problem' when there WAS a problem, and he was it, made it doubly annoying.

This is startlingly widespread*. I mentioned before that the train terminal in Toronto actually has staff greet arriving trains by waiting at the bottom of the escalators below track level, so frequent is the issue of passengers stepping off the escalator and standing about to get their bearings regardless of the thirty people behind them. I have discovered in grocery stores that almost invariably if a shopper wishes to examine the peanut butter or cereal or canned mushrooms on the left side of the aisle, he or she will park the shopping cart in the right side of the aisle so as to obtain maximum bottleneckage (bonus: if there is a support pillar in the aisle, narrowing one segment still further, this will often be the unconscious and automatic place to stop). I worked for a couple of years at a place which had two buildings connected by a narrow corridor. On any given day there would be two hundred people passing through that corridor, often several times. The general manager, in his wisdom, had decided to use the walls for a bulletin board to encourage people to stop and browse notices and memos.


*As indeed are some of the people who do so.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:42 PM on October 6, 2013


I was in a small town in North Dakota a few years ago (long story) in November and froze my ass off the entire time.

November? November?! Frozen jesus on a stick, that's still fall. November is easy. Try February when taking a breath hurts and grandmothers walk into the small town post office with no hat and their parkas open, replying "oh, I've seen worse."
posted by Ber at 2:54 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]



They do? I've never heard of this.


You edited out my 'Sometimes,' but yeah. I've heard it from different people at different times.

I was talking to some coworkers once, and it turned out that two or three different black people there had lived in Utah, and they agreed it was especially common there. Like, if they saw another black person across the street or a block away, they'd at least give a nod.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:00 PM on October 6, 2013


futz, that wallpaper was here when we moved in. As were the metallic bamboo, orange velour, and winter sports (feels like I'm wearing nothing at all!) wallpapers. Shiny safari is all that remains and it isn't coming down until it falls down in its own.
posted by MaritaCov at 3:18 PM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Awesome. A slice of the home's history and quite the conversation piece. Kudos!
posted by futz at 3:21 PM on October 6, 2013


And when you get away from the city, you have to perfect your Country Wave

Having lived in most parts of Texas, I noticed the closer you get to far west Texas you get, the more minimalist the wave. Around Fort Stockton, it gets all the way down to lifting only the index finger off the steering wheel.
posted by crapmatic at 3:23 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh, I'm sure my queue-blocker was first and foremost a twit. I've worked with, slept with, visited with and generally everything-with Americans over the past twenty years, and do not seek to explain his behaviour by his birthplace. But I do pin his mannerisms on where he came from, and they did add materially to the overall twitishness of the affair.

And, ricochet biscuit, by Toutatis this sort of thing is common. I note it mostly on the street, where people invariably park their push-chairs and fat buts right where the street light/bus stop/cable cabinet/tree constricts the available space. But in train stations, in supermarkets, in anywhere that pedestrian movement is needed, the ability of the feckless to pick the worst possible place to stop moving - when a small offset in any direction would completely obviate the issue - is remarkable.

(I do it myself, from time to time, but I normally spot it very quickly and shift self+bags+companion+woteva away from the chokepoint.)
posted by Devonian at 3:23 PM on October 6, 2013


I would also love a discussion of the American expression "I could eat". Usually it's in reply to a genuine question of "Have you eaten?", but implies that one would be willing to eat something as a social activity.

This has gotta be Yinglish. The inflection is hella Yiddishkeit.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:25 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of late to this thread of the conversation, but the reason why I personally find the label "Oriental" to be kind of weird, like not rude-weird but "what century did you come from staring at you now" weird, is because it lumps an group of very distinct cultures into a single category just because we all have black hair and pigmented skin and some superficial similarities in culture. Like, to me, the difference between Chinese and Japanese and Korean is like the difference between English and Greek and Russian - the languages only have a few shared elements and look incredibly distinct - but because they're all pictogram-based languages they just get lumped into the same category. Or the fact that we all have traditional clothing that incorporate long flowy robes - never mind that they're used in completely different contexts, class signifiers, and have significant design differences. And then it gets really weird when you consider that many of these groups do have a history of warfare and animosity that persists to even modern government today.

I mean, you could argue the same for "Asian" or "East Asian" or whatnot, but at least those words are based upon a geographic context. "Oriental" has stood as a symbol of exotification for the longest time. Like, the whole "Mysteries of the Orient!" trope. Or the "she's an Oriental Beauty" trope, which is just a convenient way of saying "we don't really care about this person's culture or background or anything but she has black hair and golden skin so she's exotic and sexy."
posted by Conspire at 3:30 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


The weirdest thing is that the Orientalist painters were mostly into depicting Turkish and Arab culture.
posted by Sara C. at 3:35 PM on October 6, 2013


The weirdest thing is that the Orientalist painters were mostly into depicting Turkish and Arab culture.

Not *weird* when you consider that they considered Turkey and the Arab world "the Orient".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:00 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


TBH as a Brit I find it a weird and antiquated term and will enerally suspect anyone using it of being a bit of a dick. On the other hand, "Asian" has a very definite meaning in the UK, so you if you need to describe anyone else from Asia you need to be really precise or just flail around guessing. Err... Chinese?
posted by Artw at 4:05 PM on October 6, 2013


No, I understand that. I was just speaking to Conspire's comment that it seems unusual to him to lump together several distinct Asian cultures with a history of conflict as "Oriental". In truth, the "Oriental" blanket term was used to describe not just East Asia but everything from Budapest to Vladivostok, possibly including parts of Africa as well.
posted by Sara C. at 4:06 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Have you eaten?" is a pretty common Teochew and Hokkien (southern Chinese dialects) greeting, and Singaporean Chinese are mostly descended from southern Chinese, so it's heard pretty much here, although mostly with the older generation, since the younger ones were discouraged from learning dialects by the government.
posted by Alnedra at 4:14 PM on October 6, 2013


winter sports (feels like I'm wearing nothing at all!)

stupid sexy flanders.
posted by sweetkid at 4:24 PM on October 6, 2013


I think East or South Asian would be good identifiers and not offensive.

You know I still disagree with this: No one would say, "Oh, she's West European"; that would be weird, because we know there is a big difference between those countries. We say, "She's French; she's from Portugal; she's Scottish" etc etc. No one gets called North American; you are Canadian or American. I feel like generalising Asian countries is only acceptable because of an underlying, unarticulated assumption that people from these places are - if not the same - more identical than Westerners from different countries.

It shits me, I can't lie. Perhaps also because in Australia its generally only used by hardcore racist or ignorantly racist people.
posted by smoke at 4:25 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well, I don't know what else to say. I identify as South Asian, much more than Asian. I mean, there are hyper specific things about the type of Indian person I am, as opposed to people from other parts of India, but I don't expect most non Indian people to really get the differences and they definitely wouldn't be able to tell on sight.

What do you propose?

When I was in Australia people seemed to freak out talking about race at all, but that was only for a few weeks so I can't say that's a definitive fact about the culture.
posted by sweetkid at 4:31 PM on October 6, 2013


We do say Scandinavian, Eastern European, Mediterranean and other often fairly inept generalisations when talking about various Europeans.
posted by dng at 4:32 PM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


What makes the door spot the best is you can lean insouciantly.

You are clearly trolling.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:36 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know I still disagree with this: No one would say, "Oh, she's West European"; that would be weird, because we know there is a big difference between those countries. We say, "She's French; she's from Portugal; she's Scottish" etc etc. No one gets called North American; you are Canadian or American. I feel like generalising Asian countries is only acceptable because of an underlying, unarticulated assumption that people from these places are - if not the same - more identical than Westerners from different countries.

The big divide between Western and Eastern Europe (Soviet rule) has faded but use of "Northern Europe" vs "Southern Europe" ; "Nordic/Scandinavian"; "Mediterranean" distinctions etc. is widespread in Europe and are useful generalizations if the limitations are acknowledged
posted by Bwithh at 4:39 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sara C.: "I think the point is that white people in said restaurants are using the soy sauce "wrong", except it's stated in a really clumsy and also incorrect way. "

This kind of thing always ticks me off. That one could possibly be eating wrong because the flavour combination doesn't match the norm of the region of origin. Especially when one is talking about something normally exciting as white rice. It's not like they are putting ketchup on Eggs Benedict or something.

Also mayo on hotdogs (and hamburgers) is awesome.
posted by Mitheral at 4:44 PM on October 6, 2013


I mean, you could argue the same for "Asian" or "East Asian" or whatnot, but at least those words are based upon a geographic context

But Orient operated in exactly the same way! Near Orient = Turkey, Arabia etc. the Far Orient = China, Japan etc.

The modern US Asian American identity movement which has a tendency to self-righteously and clumsily conflate all Asians together in an awkward way is more annoying to me than the old exoticized Orient stuff (which can be fun!)
posted by Bwithh at 4:46 PM on October 6, 2013


You know I still disagree with this: No one would say, "Oh, she's West European"; that would be weird, because we know there is a big difference between those countries. We say, "She's French; she's from Portugal; she's Scottish" etc etc. No one gets called North American; you are Canadian or American. I feel like generalising Asian countries is only acceptable because of an underlying, unarticulated assumption that people from these places are - if not the same - more identical than Westerners from different countries.

Honestly I think it's because white Americans *want* to identify people from their genetic heritage (we still identify ourselves that way frequently) but you can't generally tell a Japanese person from a Chinese person from a Korean etc if you don't know them, so we lump it all together into "Asian". Most Americans my age that I know will lump Indians and Pakistanis together as "Indian" if they don't know specifically their country of (family) origin. It's sort of ignorant but I think it is at least a bit of an effort not to be "bad racist" by referring to folks from Asia as "Orientals".

Anyway, my contribution to the "cultural facts" is if you don't want to fall into the boring trap of asking someone new "What do you do?", pretty much every New Yorker will talk for hours about real estate, rent, what neighborhoods are going for what, etc. We are obsessed with the details of real estate. So if you're ever stuck at a NYC dinner party, now you know what to talk about.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:48 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


the old exoticized Orient stuff (which can be fun!)

fun? Being described as exotic makes my skin crawl.
posted by sweetkid at 4:52 PM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I identify as South Asian, much more than Asian.

Perhaps this whole thing is a result of my antipodean bias - No one here would ever think of an Indian as "South Asian", given that Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, large parts of China, Malayasia, Singapore and Indonesia are further south, in some cases much further south.

What do you propose?

I guess calling people from the country their from, or heavily qualifying it where you don't know.

use of "Northern Europe" vs "Southern Europe" ; "Nordic/Scandinavian"; "Mediterranean" distinctions etc. is widespread in Europe and are useful generalizations if the limitations are acknowledged

Indeed, I agree with you completely, but I guess for me "Asian", "east Asian" etc has more in common with the examples I listed - in that I feel it's functionally useless - than those terms, which typically encompass far, far more limited geographical areas that have a lot more in common with each other than, for example Taiwan and East Timor.
posted by smoke at 5:01 PM on October 6, 2013



I guess calling people from the country their from

I'm not "from" India. Also, even India is kind of a random assortment of ethnicities brought together by colonization.
posted by sweetkid at 5:02 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I feel like generalising Asian countries is only acceptable because of an underlying, unarticulated assumption that people from these places are - if not the same - more identical than Westerners from different countries.

In the US it's used much more as a racial term than a national one. I mean, as a former anthropology major I sort of bristle at the idea that race exists in any legitimate way, but culturally we tend to recognize that as a factor and there has to be some way of talking about it.

The only time I ever see people (in the US) using a blanket Asian term to refer to people in a national way rather than a racial way is the term "South Asian", which I think is mostly used to refer to a large diaspora and various ethnic groups in a situation where the names of the specific countries involved can sometimes be counterintuitive. Like, is someone ethnically Punjabi whose ancestors moved to the US in the 1920s really "Indian"?
posted by Sara C. at 5:09 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not "from" India.

Ah, you know what I mean, cultural identifications etc included.

I recognise I'm well outside the mean here, clearly, but I just feel the whole thing reflects its imperialist origin - though it's largely not used that way. I feel like it minimises the diversity and definitely size of Asia (and we see it with South America and especially Africa, too), the orientation of everything in relation to Europe or at best North America. I guess I feel it obscures more than it illuminiates, and, for me, comes with some historical baggage that still has unfortunate resonances here and elsewhere (and of course, this is shaped by Australia's history and anxiety wrt the "yellow peril" - a discourse still very much thriving here).
posted by smoke at 5:16 PM on October 6, 2013


But then, what are people supposed to say?

Are people supposed to never refer to race, ethnicity, or nationality in another person's presence? TBH I think that in a post-racial melting pot utopia this would be the best way, but realistically we need some vocabulary for this stuff.

Are people supposed to randomly guess at an Asian person's background? Which BTW leads directly to the situation we have in the US, where a lot of ignorant people will just refer to all Latin-American people as "Mexican".

Are you suggesting we bring back an antiquated/slur type term like Oriental or Celestial or something?

Talking about race is messy, and like I said in an ideal world it just wouldn't be a factor at all. But to the extent that we have to talk about race, we might as well have agreed-upon polite terms to do so.
posted by Sara C. at 5:22 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


well, but even "Indian" reflects an imperialist origin. I don't think we can escape that.

the orientation of everything in relation to Europe or at best North America.

I hear you on this but that's present in a lot of things - like being called "short" or "dark" -compared to what?
posted by sweetkid at 5:28 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


But then, what are people supposed to say?

Well, like I suggested in the first comment, you could simply refer to the country, or cultural grouping or whatever. I think this schism we're having comes from a western cultural difference, namely that here in Australia, there is really no culturally agreed definition of what South Asian (or East Asian etc) means - whereas from you and SweetKid's comments it seems there is an agreed definition in America (pertaining to modern day India, roughly).

So, here, at any rate, using terms like South Asian and East Asian is essentially meaningless- no one would have any idea what you meant, I think most people would assume South Asian was actually referring to Indonesia, possibly Singpore, Malayasia or at a pinch the Philippines.

If you have that agreed definition in America, than I accept the term is useful and a fine one. Personally I would probably still go for "Indian", "Punjabi" etc myself, but horses for courses.
posted by smoke at 5:29 PM on October 6, 2013



Are people supposed to randomly guess at an Asian person's background?


From personal experience I can say this is horrible. I'd rather be called South Asian every day and twice on Sunday and not have people say "oh! i thought you were x" or "you look Thai to me" or arggghhhh.
posted by sweetkid at 5:30 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


smoke, in the US we (or at least some of us) actually use "Southeast Asian" for the areas you're talking about. I do tend to think that "East Asian," "South Asian," and "Southeast Asian" are fairly agreed-upon definitions here, though I could be wrong. And I agree that they tend to be used more to describe race than geographical origin. (Probably since the majority of Asian-race people in the US are from the US.)

Apparently Wikipedia agrees with my categories.
posted by jaguar at 5:46 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


And on doing more research, it looks like the majority of Asians and Asian-Americans living in the US are foreign born, so ignore my previous parenthetical!
posted by jaguar at 5:51 PM on October 6, 2013


If I were asked to quickly identify someone, I would feel much more comfortable saying "East Asian" than fumbling about for "They look Vietnamese" or something, if I didn't know them or anything else about them. And I think many, many Americans would just say, "Chinese," which ugh.
posted by sweetkid at 5:53 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Random thoughts from reading this:

Once, in New York, somewhere near the Radio City building, I knew there was a post office around but not exactly where. Stuck my head into a small deli and called out "Excuse me, where's the post office?" and I swear everyone piped up the directions.

In Montreal a lot of people thank the city bus driver as they disembark. (In Quebec French, we rather nautically "débarquer" from the bus, which the French don't. They "descendre". )

Bus drivers mostly just say "bonne journée" or "bonne soirée" at that point, but the most common response to "merci" in Quebec French is to say "Bienvenue" which would never be used in France – it's a calque from "You're welcome", of course. Perfectly good French word, but only actually used to welcome people in France.

In European French the response would be "je vous en prie" – a bit like that "por favor", I think. Kind of means "oh please, it was nothing."
posted by zadcat at 5:55 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


wabbittwax: "In Kalamazoo, MI, many restaurants offer a free basket of bread. "

wait, they don't do that everywhere?

shoot, maybe i shouldn't move away after all...
posted by rebent at 5:56 PM on October 6, 2013


We had a Frenchman staying with us who put ketchup on rice. That was wrong.
posted by maryr at 5:59 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


At last! Someone we can unite against!
posted by Artw at 6:01 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


In Florida (Miami, Ft Lauderdale) they didn't bring water at restaurants unless you asked for it. That was jarring to me as you're usually asked in NYC if you want sparkling or still the second you sit down.
posted by sweetkid at 6:03 PM on October 6, 2013


(though I am told I put ketchup on American Breakfast wrong.)
posted by Artw at 6:03 PM on October 6, 2013


She ate cornflakes with ricotta cheese and olive oil
posted by maryr at 6:04 PM on October 6, 2013


I always order San Pellegrino so I can sing the song "dinner at 8, San Pellegrino". Actually those are the only words I know and I don't even like San Pellegrino. Damn you advertisers, got me at an early age and now I can't quit ordering San Pellegrino.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:10 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


you could simply refer to the country, or cultural grouping or whatever.

Could you give me an example of that actually working?

I mean, I'm imagining some situations where I'm interacting with a person and I need to use a word to describe their ethnicity/nationality/race.

Let's say we're talking about my friend who was born in London, to parents who are of Punjabi ethnic origin but who, themselves, are from Kenya and what is now Pakistan? What word would you use to describe him? English? Kenyan? Pakistani? Indian? South-Asian seems like a perfectly good descriptor to me unless you want to get ultra-specific and call him Punjabi.

Or, let's say I witness a crime in a New York City deli. The store owner has been shot, and I'm being asked by the police to describe the scene. Do I assume the store owner must be Korean-American, since that's the stereotype of NYC deli owners? Do I take a wild guess? Do I not mention anything about the man's appearance, or only things that are probably not useful like "he had brown hair" or "he was short"?

I don't know, I guess I've just seen not having an appropriate word for someone's background get way too negative and othering. Much worse than just using the perfectly good and inoffensive word that already exists. Obviously you don't want to talk about race in situations where it's not appropriate, but in situations where you need to talk about it, you should be able to do so reasonably accurately.
posted by Sara C. at 6:10 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


What word would you use to describe him?

prolly his name
posted by elizardbits at 6:13 PM on October 6, 2013


In European French the response would be "je vous en prie" – a bit like that "por favor", I think. Kind of means "oh please, it was nothing."

I learned "de rien" in school. Is that not used?
posted by Sara C. at 6:13 PM on October 6, 2013


De rien is more casual, je vous en prie is a bit more formal. We used to say de rien at home all the time.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:16 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


prolly his name

So nobody is ever allowed to actually discuss the South Asian diaspora? We can't refer to any people affected by that particular post-colonial clusterfuck at all?

I mean look I'm as anti-racist as it gets, but at a certain level you have to be able to meaningfully discuss things in order to make it better. Unilaterally deciding that we have no words for anyone's race, ethnicity, nationality, or religion because it might hurt someone's feelings isn't a helpful response.
posted by Sara C. at 6:17 PM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Not sure how you get "racism" and "never discuss anything about the south asian diaspora" from "when i discuss my friends with other people i like to mention their names" but whatevs.
posted by elizardbits at 6:20 PM on October 6, 2013


I specified what if hypothetically we needed to use a word to describe his background.

"oh I dunno his name maybe" only works if we decide background doesn't ever matter and shouldn't ever be talked about.

Obviously I'm not proposing that my friend not have a name and instead just be called THAT BROWN DUDE WITH THE EYEBROWS
posted by Sara C. at 6:23 PM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yea I felt like it was pretty clear Sara C was talking about people whose name you do not know, and especially people you are asked to describe based on a passing glance.
posted by sweetkid at 6:25 PM on October 6, 2013


Though I'll also say that the reason that I stressed things like "can we not talk about this at all?" is because it occurred to me that a lot of these terms mostly get used demographically, or for academic conferences and the like.

So you've got an organization called the Asian American Writers Workshop. They invite membership from/give grants to/hold symposia on all Asian nationalities, including the Arab world, Turkey, central Asia, etc. Like, the continent of Asia. Also Pacific Islanders? Not sure, but probably.

We can question as outsiders whether there is any purpose of having a name for such a diverse group of people, but clearly there are people getting things out of this group, and they prefer to call it the Asian American Writers Workshop and not, like, The Oriental Writers Workshop or just have a different group for each country or whatever. The founders, the current leadership, and the community of writers that the group serves are all Asian, and presumably they have all agreed that the word Asian is a useful word to describe themselves for the purpose of a nonprofit arts organization.

So, I dunno, it seems like they're doing OK, and it's not really my place to criticize the name they refer to themselves as?
posted by Sara C. at 6:35 PM on October 6, 2013


Celestial
ooooh I haven't heard that one for a while. It's a reference to Imperial China.
posted by Bwithh at 6:39 PM on October 6, 2013


> We had a Frenchman staying with us who put ketchup on rice. That was wrong.

Well, then, no omurice for you. (More for me!)
posted by needled at 6:40 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


And I think many, many Americans would just say, "Chinese," which ugh.

There are not a few nationalist Chinese (I mean in the People's Republic ; I don't know about CHINATs in Taiwan) who say/think the same thing
posted by Bwithh at 6:42 PM on October 6, 2013


So, I dunno, it seems like they're doing OK, and it's not really my place to criticize the name they refer to themselves as?

Totally. I guess for me, though, if I see something described as "South Asian" I think they are definitely talking about people like me. If it's "Asian" I think it might mayyybe be something about me? East Asian just comes to mind immediately when I hear the term. It's an American cultural thing, definitely.
posted by sweetkid at 6:42 PM on October 6, 2013



Sara C.: "Which BTW leads directly to the situation we have in the US, where a lot of ignorant people will just refer to all Latin-American people as "Mexican". "

It's always hi-lar-ious when my friend who is 1/2 indeterminate white Canadian-1/4 4th gen Chinese-1/4 2nd gen Jamaican gets referred to as African American when she's in the states when she's neither.
posted by Mitheral at 6:43 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are not a few nationalist Chinese (I mean in the People's Republic ; I don't know about CHINATs in Taiwan) who say/think the same thing

Nationalist Chinese people would say Vietnamese or Japanese or Korean people were Chinese? Somehow I doubt that.
posted by sweetkid at 6:44 PM on October 6, 2013


needled, that is ketchup on an omelet that happens to be sitting on rice. I disagree with ketchup on eggs, as many do as Artw alluded to, but this française put ketchup on plain rice. No other ingredients. Ketchup on white rice.
posted by maryr at 6:45 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


(And she had no fun message!)
posted by maryr at 6:47 PM on October 6, 2013


There are not a few nationalist Chinese (I mean in the People's Republic ; I don't know about CHINATs in Taiwan) who say/think the same thing

Nationalist Chinese people would say Vietnamese or Japanese or Korean people were Chinese? Somehow I doubt that.
posted by sweetkid at 6:44 PM on October 6 [+] [!]


"Basically Chinese". Especially if they've had a major Confucian influence before in their cultural history (which would cover Japan, Vietnam, Korea...).

I strongly disagree with it, but it's definitely part of the "Rise of China" discourse
posted by Bwithh at 6:47 PM on October 6, 2013


If it's "Asian" I think it might mayyybe be something about me?

Yeah, I once actually went to a reading at the AAWW and it was a South Asian, a Palestinian, and... maybe someone East Asian? I went not really having any expectations (it was to support a friend) and was pretty impressed with how diverse a group of writers they serve. From the name alone I probably would have assumed the primary focus would be on East Asians.

This is why it really pays to research what kinds of organizations are handing out grant money, I suppose.
posted by Sara C. at 6:49 PM on October 6, 2013


huh. I didn't know about that, but that's entirely different from a bunch of Americans saying "Chinese" because they can't be bothered.
posted by sweetkid at 6:49 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also bwith not withstanding the numerous ethnically Chinese people in those countries.
posted by smoke at 6:50 PM on October 6, 2013


> needled, that is ketchup on an omelet that happens to be sitting on rice.

Check out the recipe. Ketchup is mixed in to the rice, then topped with egg. Or watch this scene from Tampopo!
posted by needled at 6:52 PM on October 6, 2013


Right, but is also meat and onion and it is stir fried. This was just. ketchup. on. rice.
posted by maryr at 7:00 PM on October 6, 2013


If you've got the choice between rice and rice with ketchup why not kick it up a notch?
posted by Mitheral at 7:05 PM on October 6, 2013


Yeah, you've gotta put *something* on plain rice. Ketchup wouldn't be my first choice, but...
posted by rifflesby at 7:07 PM on October 6, 2013


Salty tears.
posted by The Whelk at 7:13 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


The only situation I put soy sauce on my white rice is when I don't have anything to put on top of it and I haven't been eating stuff where letting it drip on the rice for a second or blotting with the rice gives it any flavor. It's boring on its own.
posted by NoraReed at 7:16 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are not a few nationalist Chinese (I mean in the People's Republic ; I don't know about CHINATs in Taiwan) who say/think the same thing

Okay, yes. As a Han Chinese person who grew up listening to various members of my extended family and non-familial aunts/uncles say that Korean or Japanese people didn't "really" belong to a distinct culture because they "stole it from the Chinese", I agree this is something that Chinese people sometimes do. And I agree it is shitty and racist.

But I also reassure you that it is completely different from how some North Americans call anyone who looks vaguely Asian "Chinese". I think that is shitty and racist too especially since it unwittingly invokes the erasure of culture that Chinese people often bring upon other cultures, but it is shitty and racist in a different way emerging from different assumptions and thinking. And it's not particularly helpful to draw parallels between the two and say "oh, Chinese people do the same thing too so it's not our problem!"
posted by Conspire at 7:19 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


A big UGH! on the house tour bit... a little over a year ago, I found myself in one of those transitional phases in life. My mom had just bought a place in FL a mile away from where she winters. Seemed like a great deal at the time: I could be near my aging mom for a good chunk of the year, pay half the rent I was paying in ATL (for a nicer place, to boot), and live 5 minutes from the beach. Then winter happened. It started off innocently enough... "John & Jane are visiting this weekend, they'd love to see you, oh and we can give them a tour of the house!" Then it was "Mrs. PersonYouKnewWayBackWhen will be here tomorrow, I'd love to show her the place... I know you'll want to tidy up." By the end of the winter, I'd get 30 minute warning calls because a girl mom went to grade school with but who I've never met is in town and "she'd just love to see the house!". So, it seems that with a certain subset of boomer midwesterners, the damn house tour gets extended to any property you own and are within a mile or two of. On the plus side, I got really good at cleaning out the sink and hiding my dirty laundry in 15 minutes or less.
posted by imbri at 7:20 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


We had soy sauce!
posted by maryr at 7:34 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one gets called North American; you are Canadian or American.

I'm not sure where you're getting this, but people are absolutely described as North American.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:38 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who is working class, here? We don't show off our houses, as pretty much every time we move, all our good friends have helped us move into it and have seen the whole thing.

Well, I suppose I'd be called middle class, but I've never moved without having friends help, either. 7 moves as an adult, never used movers. Even so, you meet new people after you move sometimes and they come to your house and that's when you might do the "tour." Going back to my comment way up here, I do think it's a Boomer-era, postwar phenomenon and that having things, or taste, that you wanted to show off as a celebratory act or status/community membership marker is what makes it a middle-class phenomenon, not whether or not people have seen the place already.

A couple more data points in support of Sara C.'s argument: A couple organizations I have worked with include the Asia Society:
How does the Asia Society define Asia and why?
The Asia Society's definition of Asia includes the more than 30 countries broadly defined as the Asia-Pacific region—the area from Japan to Iran, and from Central Asia to New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.

This definition of Asia is not an attempt to define what Asia ought to include or represent. It is a construct based on certain geographical, political, economic, and historical assumptions and is as flexible as any other definition might be.
and Kundiman, a national organization "dedicated to the creation and cultivation of Asian American poetry." This site doesn't bother with defining the meaning of "Asian" in "Asian American," but I have been present at their readings for three years now and, as you can see if you look up folks on the faculty and fellows rosters, their membership includes people who identify origins in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific, China, Japan, etc.
posted by Miko at 7:56 PM on October 6, 2013


I think ketchup on rice might be good.

Might be even better if you mixed the ketchup with some cider vinegar, brown sugar and chipotle.

Maybe mix in some left over pulled pork.

That sounds really good.

Or you can just eat it with beans and not have to worry.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:59 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


WE HAD BEANS!
posted by maryr at 8:00 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not disagreeing with Sara C.'s assertion that the Asian American Writer's workshop is for all. That's as it should be.

Just that when people think "Asian American" they usually think East Asian first thing. I even think that myself. I think we would be moving toward more awesome if more people did the South Asian/East Asian split, just generally when talking about groups of people. But yeah Asian American Writers' workshop, totally. For all Asian Americans. Good.
posted by sweetkid at 8:00 PM on October 6, 2013


I think we would be moving toward more awesome if more people did the South Asian/East Asian split

I feel like this is a thing that is happening, even as the word "Asian" becomes a bigger, more complex umbrella for people who were not that conversant previously.
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on October 6, 2013


Now I want rice and ketchup. Thanks metafilter.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:23 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think we would be moving toward more awesome if more people did the South Asian/East Asian split

I feel like I'm talking about a dance here.
posted by sweetkid at 8:28 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos

"Excuse me, where do I get the F train?" is the absolutely ideal way to ask this question in New York City.

"Excuse me, how do I get to Union Square?" or "Excuse me, how do I get to 45th [Street] and 8th [Avenue]?" or "Excuse me, how do I get to Jackson Heights in Queens?" are all good. And don't be afraid to ask: New Yorkers love giving directions.
posted by La Cieca at 9:07 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one gets called North American; you are Canadian or American.

This happens *all the time* in the UK with British people who are afraid to offend by calling a Canadian an American (and vice versa).
posted by yellowcandy at 9:34 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


In my experience the "excuse me, do you have a moment because I'm from out of town and I need to meet my sister and...." usually leads to a request for money. And honestly, I'm more likely to give you a dollar for the bus if you don't waste my time by telling me your long, boring, story about how your obviously drunk ass was here for a job interview and needs to get to Charles and Pratt so you can meet your sister.

Also, I usually like to ask questions like "Excuse me, how do I get to Union Square?" along with some vague idea of how I think I should go, like "Excuse me, how do I get to Union Square? The F train?", because if there's one thing that people like more than giving directions, is telling you that you're going about it all wrong.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 6:40 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


People always ask me where the Brooklyn Bridge is while we are standing under the Brooklyn Bridge.
posted by sweetkid at 7:46 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Celestial
ooooh I haven't heard that one for a while. It's a reference to Imperial China.


You should watch more Deadwood.
posted by HumanComplex at 7:49 AM on October 7, 2013


I'm not sure we should be using old-timey Western words as any kind of guideline.
posted by Artw at 8:15 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just walked through a hallway conversation between two staff, of which the thrust was "no more hyphenated Americans. Either you're from somewhere else, or you're American."

There's a long way to go.
posted by Miko at 11:07 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


my husband was in diversity training at a fortune 500 company and the instructor asked, "if you pass by two people in the hall having a conversation in a language you don't speak, what's your first reaction?" every person except him agreed that they'd assume the 2 people were talking about them, because "why else wouldn't they be speaking in english?!" it boggles the mind.
posted by nadawi at 11:48 AM on October 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


*skims article, reads thread, discovers "house tours" in the US is supposed to be A Thing*

...wait, what?!

I have lived (off and on) in the US for forty-five years. I've lived in Baltimore; D.C.; Cincinnati; San Francisco; Hamburg, Germany; and Denver/Boulder. I have family scattered about the globe. I've travelled through most of Western Europe, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand and the U.K.

I have NEVER given a "house tour", it was NEVER "A Thing" with my family (they're kind of old-money WASP-y, but still, I grew up amongst rural working-class Midwesterners and they did not do this either), and I've never even heard of this being a common practice anywhere.

Is this a NYC status thing? Please tell me this is merely a NY Times-esque bourgeoisie projection of personal experience upon the general public that bears no resemblance to reality.

Bedrooms are private, off-limits-to-strangers-and-casual-houseguests areas to me and everyone I know. In polite company anywhere I've been in the U.S., when hosting a party or welcoming guests (unless they were house guests staying overnight in the guest room), the only time guests EVER see the interior of a bedroom is at larger parties during the colder months to toss a coat on the bed of a (clean, not-in-use) guest room, assuming the coat closet was over capacity. Living rooms, kitchens and the backyard / back deck (if a summer BBQ) are considered public spaces, and everything else besides the guest bathroom is generally considered off limits. You ask directions to the bathroom if you don't know where it is. I assume we are talking about standard adult casual houseguests and not, idk, teenagers / college kids at a kegger looking for a spot to shag.

"house tours" just seems very, very strange to me. unless it's like, a historical mansion open to the general public and you've got a tour guide or something.

*shakes head, moves on*
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:45 PM on October 7, 2013


No, it really is completely commonplace and not an NYC status thing. I think you might be an outlier.
posted by Miko at 5:53 PM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is this a NYC status thing?

Absolutely not, are you kidding? We have tiny apartments here.

They do the house tour a lot on sitcoms though.
posted by sweetkid at 5:53 PM on October 7, 2013


...it feels weird being an outlier having travelled and visited and lived in as many regions in the U.S. as I have. Maybe my friends / family / acquaintances and the people I grew up with and all the hipsters I knew in Baltimore and, and, and... were just weird?

idk man, this is really freaking me out. I feel like I'm missing something.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:57 PM on October 7, 2013


Bedrooms are private, off-limits-to-strangers-and-casual-houseguests areas to me and everyone I know. In polite company anywhere I've been in the U.S., when hosting a party or welcoming guests (unless they were house guests staying overnight in the guest room), the only time guests EVER see the interior of a bedroom is at larger parties during the colder months to toss a coat on the bed of a (clean, not-in-use) guest room, assuming the coat closet was over capacity. Living rooms, kitchens and the backyard / back deck (if a summer BBQ) are considered public spaces, and everything else besides the guest bathroom is generally considered off limits. You ask directions to the bathroom if you don't know where it is. I assume we are talking about standard adult casual houseguests and not, idk, teenagers / college kids at a kegger looking for a spot to shag.

For what it's worth this is my experience, too. I grew up in Northern Virginia and don't remember people taking us on a tour of their house, definitely not bedrooms unless we were staying there.
posted by sweetkid at 5:59 PM on October 7, 2013


There are lots of people on this thread, including me, who would never take people on a tour through the non-public parts of the house. What I think makes you unusual is that you have never been taken on such a tour.
posted by escabeche at 6:34 PM on October 7, 2013


My parents (American upper-middle-class-ish, grew up blue-collar) would take friends and neighbors on a tour of the house (the whole house, bedrooms included) when the house was new, so basically at housewarming parties or dinner parties that were serving as housewarming parties.

I guess I've more or less carried this over; if I'm in a new place, I'll show close friends or family the entire place the first time they visit. Close-acquaintance-level friends, though, don't get a tour.

I guess I think of the house tour as a "Yay! I'm so excited about my new place!" thing. I'd find it weird if I made a new friend, went over for dinner, and they gave me a tour of a house they had been living in for more than a year.

Maybe Americans give more house tours because we move more often than most other people?
posted by jaguar at 6:41 PM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


i grew up in a southern middle america, military, mormon, poor family - it would have been pretty weird to not get/give a house tour with friends and family - it's absolutely not just some sort of nyc status thng. now i do the joking tour because you can see basically everything in my apartment from the front door.
posted by nadawi at 6:41 PM on October 7, 2013


Honestly, lfr, I think you might've been in exactly the cohorts to miss out on it. The house tour is a suburb/small town thing, and a middle-class-and-striving thing--it's not exclusive to those groups, but that's where, in my experience, it seems to be most popular.
posted by box at 6:46 PM on October 7, 2013


yea if someone just moved they would show you their house. Even a rented NYC apartment.
posted by sweetkid at 6:47 PM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The house tour is a suburb/small town thing

most of my peers growing up were denizens of Midwestern small towns / suburbs or farms. I repeat, this has never been A Thing anywhere I'm familiar with.

I've been to a few housewarming parties in new constructions where tours were given upon request, but it was always just the main living areas and yard and soforth (so normal "public spaces"), not ever what I'd consider "private space" (master suite, kids' rooms, upstairs, etc.). We recently did a major home renovation of our own place and besides throwing a dinner party and showing friends what cabinets our dishes had moved to and how our microwave works, that was it. It maybe matters that we live in a small single story ranch, and everything beyond the (only) bathroom in the hall adjacent to the kitchen is bedrooms and the office, aka "private space" but I would feel definitely weird showing off my house to guests. Any other places I've lived (apartments) a tour would be pointless, because why bother in a tumbledown 400 square foot starving-artist studio (Baltimore, Cincinnati) or a boring 4-room beige box-with-galley-kitchen (everywhere else).

I mean my uncle-in-law just dropped an insane amount last year on an enormous sprawling renovation in Studio City, CA and beyond explaining how the crazy Japanese toilet in the guesthouse worked (he has a guesthouse even!) we didn't get a full house tour, not that we asked, even tho we stayed there for four days.

maybe it's just a relic of a different era / cohort? It seems like this is supposed to be a Middle America thing but I swear to god I have never seen this in action growing up with friends / family in 1980s Centerville / Kettering Ohio (upper middle-class Dayton suburbia), which was like, the very definition of middle-class-and-striving.

so I give up, I guess. I swear I'm not being obtuse here. I just have never experienced this.
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:23 PM on October 7, 2013


yeah, I think it just missed your circles for whatever reason. also, those people asking for tours that you know are probably aware of the practice.
posted by nadawi at 7:44 PM on October 7, 2013


A house tour is basically: Here is the living room, here is the kitchen, here is the deck, here is the garage. You don't usually show people your bedroom unless the house is brand new or something.
posted by empath at 8:16 PM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


...it feels weird being an outlier having travelled and visited and lived in as many regions in the U.S. as I have. Maybe my friends / family / acquaintances and the people I grew up with and all the hipsters I knew in Baltimore and, and, and... were just weird?

Maybe. I've also lived and travelled and visited all over and have had tours just about everywhere I've gone. I've had the 'tour' in the communal homes of hippies, in McMansions, in tiny apartments, in old rambling piles, and in 2-BR sheetrock-wall apartment complexes.

Maybe you're imagining something more formal than what actually happens. It's not, like, an actual tour, and part of even calling it the tour is the sort of self-deprecating joke that it implies (as if our house were a house on a museum tour, wouldn't that be ridiculous!).

It mainly happens when you're visiting there for the first time ever. It's just that part of the visit to a new place where you're like "so hey, how are you liking the new place," and they're like "it's good, here, let me show you the other parts of it that you can't see from right here." This can be a nice experience because sometimes you hear various stories prompted by the condition or use or furnishing of the rooms, or what they plan to put there at some point, or why such-and-so arrangement of drawers or closets is a problem, and you can converse about it.

We recently did a major home renovation of our own place and besides throwing a dinner party and showing friends what cabinets our dishes had moved to and how our microwave works, that was it.

Well, that's kind of what it is. I think it's possible that maybe you have participated in this behavior without really noticing it.
posted by Miko at 9:03 PM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't think of any reason I would ever give someone a tour of my house. Maybe if it was a really big house and they had continence issues. I would want them to know where the nearest bathroom was at all times so they wouldn't be embarrassed about asking.

The best guests are the ones who sit very still and don't touch anything or breathe too loudly and then leave promptly. Otherwise they should be puppies.
posted by elizardbits at 9:23 PM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


really? so when someone asks me, in the midst of helping serve coffee "oh, hey your new kitchen is neat, mind telling me which cabinet the cups are in?" that's considered a house tour? because we had the exact same kinds of conversations in Dortmund, Germany and Wellington, NZ. That doesn't seem especially an American thing, really. Or not uniquely so.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:41 PM on October 7, 2013


I don't know, to me it's a very specific tradition. The only time I've ever experienced it was when I visited someone's new home that they had just moved into, or when someone visited my new home that I had recently moved into.

And I think you might be off on what you consider "middle class and striving". In my experience it's more common in lower middle class households than upper middle class, and is very specifically connected to a sort of "movin' on up" mentality or maybe moving into your first real house that you own as opposed to another rental. You don't get the house tour every time someone moves from one apartment to another. But if you're a first time homeowner -- especially if the place has involved any renovation at all or is new construction -- you might give people "the tour".

Upper middle class WASPs don't really do this, in my understanding. If you're wealthy, buying a house is just another thing you might do. If you're at the lower end of middle class, owning a home is a huge rite of passage that people get excited about.
posted by Sara C. at 10:03 PM on October 7, 2013


so when someone asks me, in the midst of helping serve coffee "oh, hey your new kitchen is neat, mind telling me which cabinet the cups are in?" that's considered a house tour?

I can't tell if you're being deliberately obtuse or not. The way it goes is, someone goes to your house for the first time, you say "Oh hey, let me take your coat and give you the tour. Here's the living room, got the big 50 inch flat screen, here's the kitchen, real proud of this island here, made it myself, I like to have a lot of room for prepping vegetables. We can just poke our heads in the garage here, got a big icebox for frozen meat because I like to hunt, got a bunch of venison in there now. Want to grab a beer from the fridge out there?.. etc, etc..."
posted by empath at 10:30 PM on October 7, 2013


I dunno. Like I said, I grew up with the house tour being normal. I no longer find the house tour normal. Maybe it's phasing out? I'm willing to think it's class-related, or generational; but I would say that I, at 37 years old and in an urban West Coast area, would find it weird if someone gave me a whole-house tour. Or, really, any tour other than "Drinks are in the X room, appetizers are in the Y room, can I take your coat?"
posted by jaguar at 10:34 PM on October 7, 2013


Or all of the above with comments about what kind of work has been done, what kind of work the owner would like to do, anecdotes about project creep, "OMG you would not BELIEVE how hideous this room was when we first looked at the place!", etc. if it was a fixer upper.
posted by Sara C. at 10:34 PM on October 7, 2013


Now I only give a tour to the termite inspector, the HVAC guy, and the insurance appraiser.

We used to give friends tours of our houses when we were younger and thought it was absolutely NUTS that kids our age would OWN A FREAKING HOUSE.

Like, what were we thinking, buying a freaking house? Here, let me show you this stupid room and the stupid things we're doing with it. And why is there water dripping down that wall, should I be concerned?
posted by surplus at 5:33 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


it wasn't even movin' on up in my circles - it was just "aunt so&so drove 10 hours to get here and hasn't seen the trailer yet, lets give her the tour." i do agree that once i started hanging out with people who were upper middle class, it wasn't done. that might be the disconnect we're seeing here.
posted by nadawi at 6:03 AM on October 8, 2013


The way it goes is, someone goes to your house for the first time, you say "Oh hey, let me take your coat and give you the tour. Here's the living room, got the big 50 inch flat screen, here's the kitchen, real proud of this island here, made it myself, I like to have a lot of room for prepping vegetables. We can just poke our heads in the garage here, got a big icebox for frozen meat because I like to hunt, got a bunch of venison in there now. Want to grab a beer from the fridge out there?.. etc, etc..."

...

nope, sorry. I have seriously never seen anyone do this. Not even the rural farm types I grew up with.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:49 AM on October 8, 2013


I grew up upper middle class and the only time I remember touring someone's house is when my father, an architect, had designed it but that's a different context.

Though I probably experienced some without realizing it, or my parents did some and I didn't know. In NYC, I know I've been shown around people's apartments when they just moved in.
posted by sweetkid at 6:53 AM on October 8, 2013


The house tour is a suburb/small town thing, and a middle-class-and-striving thing

That's definitely not my experience. But I spent most of the past decade living in a (shared rental) rowhouse in a major U.S. city, and since my friends mostly live in apartments (we're all late 20s/early 30s and few of us own homes) they were kind of fascinated to see what a big old house that has barely been renovated since the late 19th Century (no central A/C, no bathroom on the ground floor) looked like, and I was happy to show it off--so usually when my roommates and I had a party, I'd take a group of a half-dozen people tromping around to point out the "scullery maid" stairs, creepy basement, attic apartment &c.

But yeah, now that I'm in a smaller apartment, it's more like "living room, bathroom, put your coats in the bedroom, and we're done."
posted by psoas at 7:19 AM on October 8, 2013


I think "house tours" are a thing if it's a new-to-the-owner/renter house. At least they are in my circle, because it's a brand new thing in the life of your friend and they want to show off, and you're excited for their brand new thing so you want to see it.

But they're not scrupulously look-at-everything exhaustive - you don't necessarily look in all the rooms, but you may have some doors pointed out to you ("and Jack's bedroom is there, next to that second bathroom - and hey, come check out the back yard").

The most extensive house tour I had recently was when my brother had finished his house - but he'd bought and renovated our grandfather's house, so he did a sort of Mass Family Viewing partly because everyone was excited and partly to sort of help the whole family transition ("we thought about keeping that sunroom the way it was, but moving the deck to the other side was better, and check out that fireplace I put in").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 AM on October 8, 2013


Bedrooms are private, off-limits-to-strangers-and-casual-houseguests areas to me and everyone I know.

This may just be one of those internal cultural divides, like the (weird to me) insistence of some people--not tied to the above discussion of Asian customs--that shoes always come off when entering the house. Where I grew up, it was never a thing. (Also not a thing: white carpet, so I grok reasons for wanting them off.)
posted by psoas at 7:29 AM on October 8, 2013


I'm middle class, from Texas, and my parents have a close circle of friends, so I never saw them do the house tour, because everyone who came to our house had been coming to it forever. But after moving into a new house, I found myself giving house tours, and I must have gotten it from somewhere. Another friend from Texas also gave me a house tour when he got his new house. So it's at least a thing for middle-class Houstonians.
posted by Bugbread at 7:51 AM on October 8, 2013


And, like EmpressCallipygos says, in my experience people give tours of their new homes/apartments, not places they've lived in for a long time that you're just visiting for the first time.
posted by Bugbread at 7:54 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm late to the party, but on the topic of soy sauce, the intention of the author is to indicate that while it is common (in my experience here in the states) for Westeners to put soy sauce on *everything* they get, that is not at all how it is used in Asian cuisine. Especially not on rice.

I think she worded it awkwardly, probably because she is not a native English speaker?

In all cuisine that uses soy sauce (that I know of), there are very specific applications. It's not sprinkled on everything like we would use salt and pepper; it's more like ketchup. When it's on the table it's because the restaurant has something it expects you need soy for: dumplings, meat/fish, etc. So as with ketchup, you would put it on fries or your burger, but it'd be really strange for you to apply it to your dinner roll. This is the equivalent of putting it on your rice.

Of course, when I was a kid, I loved putting soy on my rice (just as I'm sure some of you loved your ketchup sandwiches) but it horrified my grandma and she always yelled at me for doing so. I think it bothered her in particular because she raised my dad during the war and had a lot of guilt about not being able to feed him properly. She had a lot of war stories but the only ones she would tell me were about food.

You can eat your food however you like, of course. I tend to stick to cultural norms because, you know, sushi has been around for like a 100 years and people have figured out before me that dipping nigiri rice side down soaks it up much making it too salty, makes it falls apart, and plus the flavor goes best on the fish.
posted by danny the boy at 2:02 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the problem is that the author is making the generalization that Americans put soy sauce on either "everything" or just plain rice.

I don't do either of those things, I've never seen "Americans" do either of those things, so it's odd to generalize. It's especially odd to generalize from "Americans put soy sauce on the wrong things" to "All Asian restaurants only put out soy sauce for the stupid whiteys who don't know any better", which is absolutely untrue.

The author is American, by the way, and from reading his About Me section it seems like he's an Asian-American who has lived in the Pacific Northwest and Michigan, as well as spending some time working abroad. His list of "Cultural Secrets" makes him seem like someone who is not very culturally aware of either his home country or any other country.

I did not get the sense that the author doesn't speak English natively.

(Also sprinkling salt and pepper on everything is similarly wrong to putting ketchup on your dinner roll or soy sauce on your rice. Salt is only for things that need additional salt. Pepper is largely ornamental though it is OK to add to certain dishes.)
posted by Sara C. at 2:11 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Disagree I love pepper
posted by sweetkid at 2:13 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Complete digression, but what do you put pepper on?

I only ever use it on some meats (steak comes to mind, but I'd probably put it on a pork chop or something), and maybe in soup if it's a really bland soup. I find that it really only goes with very savory umami flavors or creamy things like mashed potatoes or pureed soups.
posted by Sara C. at 2:34 PM on October 8, 2013


I gotta go with Cruella Deville on the pepper issue.
posted by Artw at 2:41 PM on October 8, 2013


Complete digression, but what do you put pepper on

Salad, fish and steak primarily.
posted by sweetkid at 2:44 PM on October 8, 2013


Sara C.: "Pepper is largely ornamental"

•_•
posted by danny the boy at 2:47 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I KNOW RITE

SARA C U R RONG
posted by sweetkid at 2:48 PM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


But like seriously you guys don't put it on everything you eat, though. Right?

That said, I'm of the somewhat contrarian opinion that black pepper doesn't belong on every table, and that it should be used like any other spice -- use it if it goes well with your particular dish, don't use it on everything as a matter of course. The pepper at my house lives by the stove and is mostly used for scrambled eggs and boxed tomato soup.
posted by Sara C. at 2:51 PM on October 8, 2013


One hipster somewhere has actually made the pepper icecream, right?
posted by Artw at 2:53 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, traditionally the reason you see black pepper at the table is absolutely ornamental -- it was originally to impress guests with the fact that you have access to lots of rare spices. So, really, here, have as much as you want! Put it on any old thing! Don't skimp! Nowadays people just put it out because it's traditional.
posted by Sara C. at 2:53 PM on October 8, 2013


I put it on a lot of things I eat. By ornamental I feel like you're saying it doesn't have any taste, which isn't how I feel.

I also crush it with a knife instead of doing the shaker thing.
posted by sweetkid at 2:55 PM on October 8, 2013


No, by ornamental I mean it's kept out on the table mostly to be seen.
posted by Sara C. at 2:57 PM on October 8, 2013


no it is to eat
posted by sweetkid at 2:58 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm not saying it isn't for eating.

I'm saying that the reason it's pepper and not hot sauce or sugar or cinnamon or whatever else is that pepper was once a status symbol. Putting a shaker of pepper on your table communicated something important about you to your guests.

Nowadays it's mostly just for tradition.

Though obviously sometimes people eat pepper.

But surely not more than any other spice or condiment, right?
posted by Sara C. at 3:01 PM on October 8, 2013


I think my pepper contrarianism came from this Slate article? Though in my memory I got it from Ruhlman's blog, or maybe a Ruhlman cookbook?
posted by Sara C. at 3:07 PM on October 8, 2013


TIL there is pepper contrarianism.
posted by sweetkid at 3:08 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


/kicks table over.
posted by Artw at 3:10 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


/now there is pepper everywhere
posted by sweetkid at 3:10 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


As god intended.
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sara C.: "I've never seen "Americans" do either of those things"

Both my mom and dad put soy sauce on rice. The first time my wife (Japanese) saw it, she was just floored. It's like seeing someone toast a piece of bread, cover it with soy sauce, and eat it.
posted by Bugbread at 3:11 PM on October 8, 2013


!!!

That is what marmite is for.
posted by Artw at 3:12 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually soy on toasted bread with cheese works really well.
posted by Artw at 3:12 PM on October 8, 2013


There are also nutmeg contrarians, who maintain that nutmeg is overused and really has no place in most dishes that call for it. I think Anthony Bourdain started that one.
posted by Sara C. at 3:16 PM on October 8, 2013


we have a variety of peppers - some for cooking, some for certain things, but also a good quality ground pepper that we do end up putting on a large amount, maybe even a majority, of our food. this is pretty common in my circle, i think.
posted by nadawi at 3:17 PM on October 8, 2013


But surely not more than any other spice or condiment, right?

Black pepper must be in the top 5 in many households along with sugar, salt, ketchup, and some sort of hot sauce. People leave these out on the table because they don't need refrigeration and they are personal taste items for many foods unlike say dill or basil.
posted by Mitheral at 3:24 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I weren't so lazy I'd type out the recipe for Mark Bittman's Stir-Fried Vegetables with Nam Pla from The Best Recipes in the World. Black pepper heaven.
posted by HotToddy at 3:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Artw: "Actually soy on toasted bread with cheese works really well."

Sounds odd, but that's an entirely different matter, which I suspect my wife would grudgingly accept. It's like the difference between "soy sauce on white rice" vs. "soy sauce on white rice with raw fish".
posted by Bugbread at 3:26 PM on October 8, 2013


Nutmeg, like saffron , will totally overpower any meal if you even slightly over the limit, so it's best handled like one would handle live Ebola culture.
posted by The Whelk at 3:27 PM on October 8, 2013


So if I'm reading this all correctly, if I'm in somebody's bedroom in Seattle, and I'm eating my chips with sriracha that I have served with my left hand, I might offend a Belgian? Or was it...no soy sauce after pushing a car?
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:29 PM on October 8, 2013


You're in Australia, where they have no manners or society, so no one cares what you do.
posted by The Whelk at 3:32 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Do I tie the hostages to the front or the back of my war wagon when threatening a peaceful encampment while wearing only a metal mask and leather jockstrap?"
posted by Artw at 3:34 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, now that I've had time to calm down and reflect, I agree with Sara C. that pepper on the table really is kind of ornamental. Who adds pepper to their food at the table? That was the cook's job.
posted by HotToddy at 3:34 PM on October 8, 2013


Artw: ""Do I tie the hostages to the front or the back of my war wagon when threatening a peaceful encampment while wearing only a metal mask and leather jockstrap?""

In Albuquerque, people wear leather masks and metal jockstraps.

In Chicago, the hostages will say "Please, let us free" instead of "Please, let us go"
posted by Bugbread at 3:38 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Complete digression, but what do you put pepper on?

I put it on nearly everything - salads, vegetables, meats, potatoes, soup, corn, etc. I adore pepper and have been known to chew a peppercorn just to enjoy that awesome, spicy, floral flavor burst. The peppermill moves from the countertop to the table when I serve a meal so that I can add pepper. It is delicious and I love it. Plus, it has to be really fresh ground to give maximum flavor - pre-ground pepper doesn't do much.

traditionally the reason you see black pepper at the table is absolutely ornamental -- it was originally to impress guests with the fact that you have access to lots of rare spices

Same is true of salt, though. The same is true, really, of any kind of spice amywhere that is not an indigenous part of a local cuisine.

Also, hot sauce is a totally normal thing to have on the table at meals. Maybe that's the Texas in me talking, but really, it's normal.
posted by Miko at 3:41 PM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah spices that are not hot sauce on the table are more an ornamental ritual than something to be used ( aside from mashed potatoes, which noone makes salty or peppery enough for me cause dear god most people make bland ass mashed potatoes.)
posted by The Whelk at 3:46 PM on October 8, 2013


I love pepper (I actually have a little jar of undried peppercorns to slowly nibble on as I work), but at the actual table, the only things I add pepper to are ramen and mashed potatoes. Otherwise, it's a strictly kitchen-bound spice.
posted by Bugbread at 3:48 PM on October 8, 2013


I think we can all agree on the universal moral teaching we can take away from this thread: no matter who you are, where you live, or what your culture of origin, it's easy to find someone who thinks your behavior is bizarre and fucked up.
posted by Miko at 3:51 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah spices that are not hot sauce on the table are more an ornamental ritual than something to be used

Tell that to my mother, who barely even glances at her plate before coating it in a visible layer of salt.
posted by HotToddy at 3:55 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Question your mother she might be a deer.
posted by The Whelk at 3:57 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I use real pepper on almost everything except peanut butter and tunafish sandwiches. I guess fruit doesn't get any pepper love either.
posted by futz at 4:00 PM on October 8, 2013


By what line of questioning does one ascertain whether one's mother is a deer?
posted by HotToddy at 4:00 PM on October 8, 2013


Drive a car in front of her does she jump in front of it y/n?
posted by The Whelk at 4:01 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love salt, too. I really gravitate toward very, very strong flavors. I also like crushed red pepper as a table spice, and oregano too. I enjoy a sprinkle of fresh herbs like thyme. I like super bitter, super floral, super fragrant, and super tangy flavors of all kinds. These choices have a lot to do with the composition of your palate and your personal taste at an individual level, not just culture.

I guess fruit doesn't get any pepper love either.

I was just gonna add, black pepper is awesome on strawberries.
posted by Miko at 4:01 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was just coming back to put in a word for strawberry black pepper sorbet!
posted by HotToddy at 4:03 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Salt on ice cream or chocolate is a very fashionable thing right now, also tasty.

I pretty much approve of red pepper flakes in any capacity. Or paprika. I'd eat my own thumb cooked in smoked hot paprika. I'm pretty sure I stayed in Budapest an extra three weeks cause the place down the street did like chicken and spartezzzle noddles in a four types of paprika sause for like, two dollars for a fucking pound of it. With sour cream!
posted by The Whelk at 4:06 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Smoke makes everything better. Try smoked salt for a nice hit of both!
posted by Miko at 4:09 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Then you start buying that pink mountain salt and no one talks to you anymore and everyone suspects you're an elegant cannibal.
posted by The Whelk at 4:10 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


No, but she has lots of other ways of trying to get me killed in a fiery car crash, like shrieking and grabbing my arm while I'm changing lanes, yelling maniacally out the window at "bad" drivers, etc.
posted by HotToddy at 4:11 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


then you start buying that pink mountain salt

True story, one of my brother's cats almost died because they bought a rock of that pink salt. It was in the form of a candle holder. They didn't realize it, but the cat was licking it constantly in secret to get the salt taste. It went into an extreme dehydrated state and stopped eating, and they couldn't figure out was wrong. Fortunately the vet did. No more big chunky salt around our places.
posted by Miko at 4:13 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the condiment to end all arguments. The condiment before which sriracha hangs its head in shame.
posted by HotToddy at 4:14 PM on October 8, 2013


SALT LICK OF DOOM.

My cat just wanted earwax, all of the earwax, all the time.
posted by The Whelk at 4:15 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


my cat is not content with stealing used qtips, he will also try to lick inside the ears of men who don't live here.
posted by nadawi at 4:16 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Miko: "True story, one of my brother's cats almost died because they bought a rock of that pink salt."

Moral of the story: the only things that should be made out of food are macaroni necklaces and mashed potato replicas of UFO-frequented mountains.
posted by Bugbread at 4:17 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


My husband used to stick his pinkie in his ear and offer it to the cat. And when the dog wants to lick his feet, he just rolls up his pantleg and settles in for the foot bath.

Still hungry?
posted by HotToddy at 4:18 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually extending a recently eardug finger full of wax is one of the ways I was taught to approach a scared or flighty cat.
posted by The Whelk at 4:19 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's why elephants have big ears: for bribing lions to leave them alone.
posted by Bugbread at 4:21 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can also use it for chapped lips.
posted by HotToddy at 4:34 PM on October 8, 2013


And by "you" I mean "not me." This tip also brought to you courtesy of Mr HotToddy.
posted by HotToddy at 4:36 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had a cat who produced copious blobs of earwax, and from time to time I'd wipe out his ears and let him eat his own earwax. I'm not sure which one of us was more disgusting in this situation.

Also this is not the first time I've mentioned this on metafilter.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:36 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


We do love cats and relative anonymity here.
posted by maryr at 4:46 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Pepper is largely ornamental though it is OK to add to certain dishes

THIS IS THE WRONGEST YOU HAVE EVER BEEEEEEN
posted by elizardbits at 4:48 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ta da! Here is the black-pepper intensive Mark Bittman recipe. It was eluding me online with a different name, but it's the same exact recipe as in the book, just with the addition of chicken or shrimp.
posted by HotToddy at 4:58 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]



THIS IS THE WRONGEST YOU HAVE EVER BEEEEEEN


Like hey Sara C right about so many things wrong about black pepper. And ornaments.
posted by sweetkid at 5:03 PM on October 8, 2013


I just put black pepper in my hot chocolate to prove a point and it was very tasty. Now I am going to put black pepper on some green tea pocky, I expect delightful results.
posted by elizardbits at 5:04 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


update: i can't figure out how to make the pepper stick
posted by elizardbits at 5:05 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lick the pocky first.
posted by Bugbread at 5:15 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


is this where I mention that our new(ish, he's been here 4 months) rescue cat just upped the ante in the 5:30 AM wake-up-cat routine this morning by licking my ears until I threw slippers at him?

also I loathe black pepper because the texture squicks me out; it's like finding dirt in my food :(
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:19 PM on October 8, 2013


futz: "I guess fruit doesn't get any pepper love either."

Like M.I.A. I salt and pepper my mango. Black pepper is fine on strawberries but also try it with sichuan peppercorns. Good in ice cream form.
posted by danny the boy at 5:22 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


also throwing slippers at a cat is a total exercise in FAIL because a) you'll never hit the bastard as he is too fast and slinky and b) it totally amuses the little shit so he'll just be right back for MOAR EAR LICKING SLIPPER FLINGY MADNESS YAY!! and c) now you have to stumble through the dark on cold floors to find the damned things when you invariably discover that, having been awoken at this ungodly hour you also have to go pee and, welp, not gonna get back to sleep anyhows...
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:29 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


whatta ya know - gizmodo has an article on salt and pepper today.
posted by nadawi at 5:47 PM on October 8, 2013


I never ever heard this thing about cats and earwax. And I've had, like, six cats in my lifetime. I'm not saying I'm going to act on this information, though.
posted by Miko at 5:53 PM on October 8, 2013


Cats use the entire human. They waste no part of it.
posted by maryr at 8:01 AM on October 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't put pepper on ice cream or cake or brownies. Yeah. Pepper generally doesn't go on deserts. Other than that, pepper on everything.
posted by bswinburn at 8:06 AM on October 9, 2013


Oh hey I just listened to a podcast about pepper today!

I think everyone's right - it was indeed a sign of status to put it out on a table as far back as 5th-Century Roman-occupied Britain, but it was also actually used - and it gets put out on tables today through some combination of habit, status, and actual practicality.

I suspect the reason why there's dissent about "do you actually use it, though" is because we've been exposed to way more options when it comes to flavoring and spicing foodstuffs than there were in earlier points in history, and that makes it more likely that you'll have someone who's all, "pepper? Pfffft, I use Slovenian gumwort instead, it's way better." And we've always had a wide variety of human tolerance for spice (the guy who would freak if you put a single grind of black pepper in tomato sauce vs. the guy who would be fine putting a couple ghost peppers in). So you've got some people who do use black pepper, and sometimes a lot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:14 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


My paternal grandmother GG (may her memory be a blessing) was known for getting things her way, but she also had a penchant for getting other people to do things her way. Once she made my cousin Will, then two years old, some matzah 'n eggs (our name for matzah brei) and she thought the eggs should be served with pepper. She could have just added some pepper, but GG knew that pepper should be a personal choice, so she asked Will if he would like some. The result was the "NO" predictable by anyone who has ever met a two-year-old.

Undeterred, GG adopted a new tactic to get pepper on Will's eggs.

"Will, I'm in the Pepper Club," GG said. "Eric is in the Pepper Club. Lauren is in the Pepper Club. Are you in the Pepper Club?"

"I'm in the Pepper Club!" Will replied.

"Well, OK," GG said, adding a sprinking of pepper to the matzah 'n eggs and serving them up. Will ate them happily.

I'm definitely a lifelong member of the Pepper Club.
posted by grouse at 8:41 AM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


It appears that tipping is a standard practice pretty much everywhere besides the UK

Well I guess that's true if by "everywhere" you mean the USA.

In New Zealand you don't tip for anything - ever. Also largely true in Australia.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 5:52 PM on October 9, 2013


Japan, too.
posted by Bugbread at 6:05 PM on October 9, 2013


For a lengthy and detailed discussion of international tipping practices, please see thirty bazillion other threads.
posted by Miko at 7:47 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Miko: "For a lengthy and detailed discussion of international tipping practices, please see thirty bazillion other threads."

Oh god, no. We finally have people talking about tipping without any grar, don't redirect folks to the sewer pits.
posted by Bugbread at 8:02 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


We finally have people talking about tipping without any grar

It's only a matter of time.
posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is "without grar"?
posted by koeselitz at 6:05 AM on October 10, 2013


Blog post has been updated with metafilter response.
posted by Mitheral at 11:34 AM on October 10, 2013


:( i think it's pretty sad when someone sees a thread like this about their work and can only see the negative. this has been a huge, vibrant discussion about lots of the same things he's discussing. he says " I’d love to hear if your conclusions differ from mine, it’s fun to talk about our cultures. " - this thread is full of that and it would have been nice to see some of that included - what does he think about some of the other observations, not just the critiques?

anyway - if you're reading this, john patrick, the moderators give accounts to people who are the subject of a post if they want to stop by and discuss it.
posted by nadawi at 3:48 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


His explanation of how he uses the word "Asian" doesn't make any kind of sense. More like he forgot about some of the extreme variety of cultural things that Asian and Asian American people may or may not share, and is backtracking in a hacky way.
posted by sweetkid at 3:58 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. I guess there were a few criticisms, but I can't remember them specifically without rereading. What I remember is a fun and lively thread that took an interesting list and built on it. Something to feel happy about, not defensive!
posted by HotToddy at 4:25 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Purchased today.
posted by Artw at 9:34 PM on October 24, 2013


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