I’ve never traveled abroad, but the thing you often hear is, of course, that many countries perceive Americans to be ignorant. According to them, and self-hating Americans (whom I despise), we’re self centered, arrogant, oblivious, or whatever. I never really pay attention to that crap anyway. I’m too busy sending fan art of drones painted like bald eagles to the Air Force.
That sort of thinking is old news anyway. Considering that fraternity men often have the exact same stigma attached to them, I, while definitely a perpetuator of that stereotype by virtue of my occupation, know that it is in fact a stereotype. It’s not wrong, it’s definitely not wrong, but it’s not the norm either. And hey, even if it is, it’s only because we’re awesome and totally deserve to feel that way. That goes for America too, or, I’m sorry France, did you win World War II? And don’t give me that Charles de Gaulle crap. Dude was the Ringo Starr of Allied Command.
I’m a pretty proficient liar, and I can usually tell when there is a ruse afoot, which should be apparent by my using the phrase “ruse afoot,” because accomplished liars prefer to describe their actions as eloquently as possible. It makes us sound less like scumbags.
While I’ve never traveled overseas, I’ve obviously had interactions with countless foreigners here in America, and I was never really aware of how I acted. When speaking with them I assumed I was being normal and courteous, and honestly I probably was. I certainly was never over the top. Still, one’s perspective can only reach so far. Until you walk a kilometer in another man’s shoes, there’s only so much you can understand. One night, out on 6th Street and absolutely hammered, my friend Geoffrey (he of broken teeth and terrible taxicab patron fame) and I used Australian accents to pick up girls, and it worked. We learned a lot that night.
The whole thing happened completely by accident. Geoffrey and I were out on west 6th one random night a few months ago, at The Dogwood. We were making our rounds when we ran into a group genuine of Aussies. They were on “uhliday” from Canberra, as it’s currently winter in the Southern Hemisphere. The guys were a riot. They were getting vacation drunk and we were happy to join them, and assist. We bought them a few rounds of shots and they returned the favor. We bullshitted at the bar for a while and one thing that was readily apparent is that the girls at this bar absolutely loved them. Now, that isn’t surprising. Girls love guys with accents. I love girls with accents. I’d legitimately bump a girl up a point or two just for having a British/Australian/French/Irish/Russian/Italian accent. She loses five if she has a Canadian accent though. Nobody wants that.
Girls were all over these guys. They’d giggle and ask, “OhmyGod where are you from!?!” The entire female population of the bar was smitten. At some point I left the group to take a piss. When I got back, Geoffrey was chatting with a random girl. Before I could hear what they were talking about, let alone introduce myself, the girl asked, “So are you from Australia too?”
I’m a pretty proficient liar, and I can usually tell when there is a ruse afoot, which should be apparent by my using the phrase “ruse afoot,” because accomplished liars prefer to describe their actions as eloquently as possible. It makes us sound less like scumbags. Regardless, I looked over to Geoffrey for confirmation. He looked me in directly in the eyes, jaw clenched, and nodded firmly, but ever so slightly.
“Yees, noiame’s Rub. Noice tuh meet yuh,” I said in my best Australian accent. If you don’t believe me, here’s a video of the same line, both to illustrate my Australian accent proficiency, and so I can just let you use your imagination and spell shit normally for the rest of this column.
Judge that accent however you’d like, but she bought it. If it weren’t for the TV show Summer Heights High none of this would have been possible, by the way. That’s 100% what I based my accent on. I even dropped a few “puck yous” that night. Geoffrey immediately chimed in with an accent of his own. From there, it was on.
I can say with complete certainty that I have never been that popular with so many women at once, and probably (definitely) never will be again. The real Australian guys were apparently in on it even before I returned to the group, and they got an absolute kick out of it. So all of us “Aussies” raged the night away. Attractive women were all around us, fascinated by our funny accents and tales of the land down under. Several times I had to take a step back and wonder, “How in the hell are we pulling this off?” Our accents were okay, and it helped that they were partially masked by the noisy bar, but still, it had to have been obvious that Geoffrey and I weren’t even close to being Australian. Somehow, it wasn’t. People believe what they want to believe, I guess.
The interactions were interesting. As I said at the beginning of the column, Americans have a certain reputation, and holy shit did some of those people live up to it. This is an actual, completely real conversation I had with one (drunk) girl.
Girl: Okay, sooo I have to ask you something.
Me: What’s that?
Girl: Were you…(*giggles*) Okay, hold on, were you upset when Steve Irwin died?
What THE FUCK do you say to that? I almost broke character right there and shouted, “Are you fucking kidding me!?!?! The Crocodile Hunter!?!? How are you a functioning human being? Where’s your helmet?”
Instead I just laughed at her for a solid two minutes before finally responding.
Me: You’re joking, right? No. I wasn’t upset. Were you upset when Billy Mays died?
Girl: Who’s Billy Mays?
Whoops. She didn’t know who Billy Mays was. Should an Australian not know who Billy Mays was? I had no idea. That was probably our biggest hurdle, trying not to seem or sound (in subject matter, language, and statements) like Americans. For example, another girl, the one I ended up taking home, at one point noticed my outfit, which was a Polo oxford, khaki shorts, and Sperrys. She asked, “Is that what you wear in Australia?” Again, there are just so many ways to respond to such a dumb question. “No, I bought these here, in Australia we all wear hats adorned with croc teeth and vests made from dingo leather. Actually me wallet’s a pouch I knoifed off a kangaroo on me last walkabout.” At least the question was innocent, and that brings me back to my earlier point. While I always thought I was being a relatively normal guy when hanging out with foreigners, had I asked a seemingly innocent question that dumb before? Probably. Dammit.
I simply replied, “Uh, yeah.” Then, slowly, as if she were explaining it to an Australian kindergartner (or Year 1? Who knows?) she said, “Oh, that’s what we wear here too.” Fucking really? Did she not understand that Australia is an Anglo country? I mean, I know there are differences, but America and Australia are two English speaking first world countries full of white people. I’m pretty sure khaki shorts and oxfords are readily available in both.
“I’m just kidding, we’re actually from Missouri.”—
“Your American accent is terrible.”
That’s one thing all of the girls we talked to loved to do that night, explain America to us as if we were children. That was annoying as shit, because people are dumb and said things that I either disagreed with or said things that were just flat out incorrect. Unfortunately I couldn’t contend any of it. I had to sit there and listen. Even when they were actually being informative, everything they were telling me about was unsolicited. I never asked them to explain anything, and after about three minutes I just wanted to scream, “SHUUUUUTTTTT UUUUPPPPPP.” At least it gave me a break from using the accent.
While trying not to sound or seem American was difficult at times, Geoffrey and I had a lot of fun trying to sound “Australian” as well, and by that I mean we just started making up Australian phrases and convincing the girls they were real. Geoffrey is a particularly sick bastard, and he came up with what was easily the most outrageous lie of the night. There’s no point in prefacing it any further, so I’ll just jump into the conversation.
Geoffrey: This is me mate Rob, he’s a sick cunt.
Girl 1: (wildly offended) What!?!
Geoffrey: He’s a sick cunt this one. Me favorite cunt.
Girl 1: That’s like the worst word you can say.
Geoffrey: (surprised) What?
Girl 1: Is that not a bad word in Australia?
Geoffrey: NO! It means he’s me mate. You call all your friends cunts in Australia.
Girl 2: (to me) Really?
Me: Yeah, he’s me cunt. I’ve met a couple good Yank cunts since I’ve been here too.
Girl 1: So that’s not a bad word in Australia?
Geoffrey: No! Not at all! We call everybody cunts. You should call your friend a cunt.
Then the girls playfully called each other cunts while Geoffrey and I fought back laughter and tears. I had to turn around and act like I was ordering a drink to keep from blowing it.
Ridiculous lies aside, I found that the key to sounding Australian, and presumably like any English speaking foreigner, is to use words and phrases that are slightly off. For example, instead of asking, “Are you from Austin?” I would ask, “Are you a native?” That question was almost always answered with a confused, “What?” That’s exactly what you want. Then you repeat the question as if it’s completely normal. “Are you a native? You from here?” Boom, you sound like a real live Australian, at least to dumb Americans.
By the time the night was winding down Geoffrey and I were actually getting pretty tired of the lie, but we were trapped. Both of the girls we were talking to thought we were Australian. At one point Geoffrey stopped giving any fucks whatsoever, broke character, and said, “I’m just kidding, we’re actually from Missouri.” Keep in mind, we are from Missouri. Was our cover blown? Did the girls throw drinks in our faces and slap us, as they rightfully should have? Nope. This is what happened instead.
Geoffrey: (in his normal voice) I’m just kidding, we’re actually from Missouri.
Girl 1: Your American accent is terrible.
Girl 2: Yeah that sounded ridiculous.
I guess you can’t say we didn’t try.
From there the lies became seemingly impossible to sustain but somehow we persevered. The girl I was talking to, and then making out with, wanted to go back to my place. Cool, except she assumed I was staying at a hotel. In reality I had an apartment that I lived in because I’m an American who lives in Austin. So what did I do? Did I realize my ruse had reached its end and call it a night? Nah, I just doubled down on the bullshit and told her I rented an apartment from “American Craigslist” to stay at for the week. Is that thing? She seemed to think so.
Of course that lie wasn’t the solution to my problem, instead it opened up a whole other set of lies I now I had to tell. I explained that the “bloke” (at this point I was so drunk that I was getting sort of British) I rented from had left his clothes and things everywhere. Obviously they were my clothes, and my things. We got back to my apartment and kept making out, but she was curious, and wanted to see who this person I had rented from was. She opened a notebook I had on the desk, determined to find a name. At this point I was actually nervous. I was convinced she was about to find my name all over it, realize I was completely full of shit, and react God knows how. For fuck’s sake she pulled the notebook out of my Rowdy Gentleman computer bag. When she opened the notebook, however, she found a sample TV pilot rundown from the writing consultant for the TFM movie. His name was at the top. She said, “Who’s Adam [redacted]? Is that the guy?” I quickly confirmed as much. “Uh, yup, Adam, that’s him.” Thankfully that was the end of it.
After that we hooked up a little more, but I declined to have sex with her, though I certainly could have. Call me a pussy, but I had sobered up a bit and started thinking about what a terrible idea it would be to close, so I sent her on her way. I offered to pay for a cab, but she said it wasn’t necessary. Geoffrey, meanwhile, threw his (jumbo) shrimp into the Yank Barbie he was with multiple times. Luckily for him they went back to her place. I can’t decide if he’s a better or worse man than me for it, but he’s certainly got more balls.
That night was one of the most absurd I’ve had in awhile. I (sort of) knew what it felt like to be a foreigner in America, which was mostly weird and annoying. And, somehow, I used an Australian accent to pick up girls, and it worked.