Small Differences: Pudding

Just as my children are picking up the denominations of coins quicker than I am, they are also adapting their vocabulary in a way that I am not.  My youngest two are now referring to their trousers as pants whereas to me pants are and probably always will be underwear,  Pudding is another one the kids keep correcting me on.

When I say to them that there is a dessert to follow the main course I refer to it as pudding whether it’s cake, ice cream or yogurt.  If it is a sweet treat that follows a main course then to me it is a pudding.  Pudding in Scotland can also, of course, refer to a very specific type of dessert – a cake full of dried fruit or baked bread and milk or rice cooked in cream would all qualify as puddings.  Here in America, however, pudding is a very specific type of sweet confection, a sort of milk-based gloop a bit like a less-set blancmange.  I can’t stand it because too me textureless food is invalid food so it instantly makes me feel queasy.  Mr Pict and the kids all love it.

For the sake of clarity, therefore, I am going to strive to teach myself to say “dessert” instead of pudding.

Small Differences: Denominations

I am being scuppered by denominations here.  Not religious ones, you understand: coins.  Seriously, my kids can make change here better than I can.  Obviously they had only just embarked on having to use coins in Scotland so it has not been such a big deal to toss that little slither of learning out of the window and start from scratch with American coins.  For me, however, I am having to undo a few decades’ worth of knowledge, something that had become reflex, and learn something new.  Apparently my brain is not coping very well with that.  It’s all about the denominations.  In Britain we have 1 pence, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p and £1 coins; in America those denominations are 1 cent, 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime) and 25 cents (quarter).  There are also half and whole dollar coins but those are rare so I am discounting them.  Clearly, therefore, I am used to adding and multiplying using different bases than are available here so all my maths (or math, as it is here) has to alter.  I am not innumerate so that it is not that I can’t do it but I am very conscious that it takes me more time to rake around in my purse (wallet, as it is here) to find the coins I need and tot them up to the amount I need.  And I have to keep reminding myself that the five cent coin is larger than the ten cent coin because they are the shape and size of UK five and ten pence coins but with the scale inverted.  Two university degrees mean nothing when you are at the head of a queue of people who are all aware that you are taking an awkward amount of time to fumblingly make 68 cents.

Small Differences: Bin Bags

Bin bags (garbage sacks?) here smell faintly spicy.  Maybe it is just the brand my husband bought but they have a definite whiff of 1970s Dad Aftershave about them.  That type of spicy.  Not delicious curry spicy.  This is not an aroma I have come across when dealing with British bin bags.  There they either smell of nasty plastic or else they smell of nasty plastic and pesticide.

In one of the schools I worked in as a High School English Teacher, there was an annual competition between form classes to decorate their classroom for Christmas.  The themes were quite elaborate because the students were very competitive.  My form class decorated our room as “Christmas in the Trenches” which meant a couple of weeks of teaching in a room filled with soil and splintery duck boards and the occasional bloodied bandage dangling from a book shelf.   It cast a sombre pall over every lesson.  However, in the other classroom I taught in, the form class based there had decided on a horror house theme which apparently necessitated them lining the walls and even most of the windows with black bin bags.  For weeks I had to teach in a room that reeked of pesticide.  It was Winter, of course, so the radiators were on full blast which generated what amounted to toxic fumes.  It was ghastly.

So spicy bin bags are definitely an improvement.  US bin bags win the international war on refuse sacks.

Who knew I could mediate on bin bags, eh?