Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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Great Americanism: XYZPDQ

Sometimes America gets it right and when it does, I like to celebrate with an unironic U-S-A, U-S-A! And then write about it here.

no joke

no joke

The Internet has many things, but as far as I can tell, there isn’t yet an origin story for XYZPDQ. This random-seeming and odd-looking string of letters actually rolls off the tongue pretty easily after the first time. It stands for “eXamine Your Zipper Pretty Damn Quick” and is a way to alert people that their zipper’s undone.

barn door

“Your barn door’s open.”

I first heard the phrase in elementary school, where it was used fairly often. At that age, I think we were all still learning to dress ourselves and, unless it was a very cold day, it was pretty easy to leave the restroom without zipping up. As I got older, the phrase somehow went out of fashion and people would say something less clever like, “Your fly’s open” prompting a hasty rechecking of all the fastening mechanisms on one’s garments.

For some reason, this kind of thing is highly embarrassing to Americans. On the same level, having food in one’s teeth is so unpleasant that it merits being told as an anecdote to illustrate how bad your day was. I never understood why these kinds of things were so humiliating. It’s almost impossible to know you’ve got something stuck in your choppers unless someone tells you, at which point you can address the situation. Done. Move on. Don’t make me listen to your story about it.

Are these kinds of not-actually-shameful things considered cringeworthy in other cultures?

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2 Comments

Incultos de…

Jolly Roger by @

Jolly Roger by @ pinknekomimi

I will never get over how ignorant most Spanish people are of everything.

At least the Americans I grew up around could claim that, living as they did in a sheltered place with few non-white people, they couldn’t be expected to know anything. But Spain once had the biggest empire in the world. Most of North and South America was theirs. They had all of Central America. But then they lost it to those cheating English bastards (they hired pirates to defeat the Spanish Armada! Pirates! Bad form!) and since then, I guess they just collapsed into themselves and never looked across their borders again.

To be fair: a vast part of the last century (1936-1975) was lived under a dictatorship which didn’t allow any foreign elements into the country, and then recovering from said dictator, but still! In a world of spell-checkers and the Internet basic mistakes are no longer excusable.

Behold:

Coach bag

“The Duffe Sac bag is available in a variety of colors. Perfect for daring yourself to be different. 295€. Coach.”

Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you surely see that something’s not right, right? This isn’t a joke Simpsons design, where a “Duff sac” might have been a thing. It’s supposed to be duffLe, with an “L” which a cursory Google search with the wrong spelling corrects.

This kind of crap happens all the time in Spain. So frustrating. I regularly found myself grumbling incultos de mierda [“uncultured shits”: damn rubes] and shaking my head forlornly at their incompetence.

[In case you’re wondering, this is from a magazine clipping I got from my mom who was either appealing to my purple-addiction, handbag-addiction or general appreciation-of-Coach. Thankfully, I have a tassel-aversion and suspect that the hardware is brass which is unacceptable.]

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  • A new thing I can’t get enough of!
  • A Great Americanism!
  • A Word Mystery inspired by a childhood phrase!