Over the course of a few weeks on a mental bike trip through America a few years back, me and my man Wilma went into a bunch of diners and shops and had direct experience with americans and their own brand of hospitality. More specifically their strange ability to get away with the sentence oh good morning to you sir… take care and you be sure to have an absolutely fantastic day okay? without sounding completely disingenuous.
An English person says that to you and you have two options. Leg it or punch them in the face. After being on the receiving end of a few of these mid-morning eulogies, we realised that was simply the American way of saying yo. Same way a Parisian would grunt at you. Same way the Japanese would bow. It’s all the same, just a different way of saying it.
I asked Wilma the question, would you rather people be really polite to you but not mean any of it, or people be monosyllabically screwface, but at least be genuine. Wilma opted for the French state of affairs, saying he’d prefer realness with a scowl, over a smile laced with deep-loathing.
I’d say it’s a tough one.
When I’m in a shitty mood a Parisian being Parisian has the ability to cleave my world in two. WhenI’m in a shitty mood I’d take any number of kowtows or sycophantic morning greetings even if they meant nothing. Because to me they’d mean something.
I’d say as we get older most of us opt for the genuine over the fake. We’d rather be in the company of the few people we connect with, than be surrounded and at the same time feel isolated. Like the old man in the Werther’s ad. He was happy heavy-chilling in just the company of his grandson, imparting all the wisdom of his years to the little man over a delicious sweet.
I bet he’d take that over a night down at the Bingo chatting gas to his crew, none of which have been able to hear anything since 1989. Then again, older people tend to suffer more from loneliness, and so they become less discriminatory over company. That’s why you catch them speaking in tongues holding up the queue in Tesco’s. They just want to be with people. But we’re all lonely. Achingly lonely. Every single one of us. One thing is proven though. What’s good for you and for me is better for me than what’s only good for me. So why don’t we all be nice to each other, and mean it.
I have no idea where i’m going with this.