"500 years," Stephen cried out to Richard as we sat in one of Dublin's prevalent Burger Kings. Richard sputtered and waved his hands in the air, "Well, what do you expect me to do what my ancestors did to your people?" It was entertaining to watch the sport of an Irish man shake a terrifying bucket of fries at a rather miffed English man. "I demand compensation!" Stephen roared before breaking up into a cluster of giggles. Jin, the Dutch guy, and I, the American, sat back in our chairs and enjoyed the show. Our head movements rivaled that found at a tennis match while the two British Islanders established their brotherhood. As the lovefest transpired, a sinister thought occurred to me. We had the British cornered, just like the Battle of New Orleans, and I just had to wave my patriotic flag against the Union Jack.
This is how my British Island trip went. I traveled to England, to Ireland, back to England, and up to Scotland with a British man, a Dutch man, and joined an Irish man and a Scots man while there. Although I should have been the one feeling outnumbered due to the boys always mocking my accent, Richard's blatant English-ness undermined the concept. Even Jin could have said something about British oppression, but he was far too amused by the squabbling going on before him. While reading Millman's excerpt, I couldn't help but recall this particular adventure. I remembered what it was to be shoved into a body of foreigners and somehow manage to create the best week ever. Our travels were a hoot, from all of us nearly missing our only bus to the train station because I was too busy admiring a Yellow Submarine in Liverpool to Jin being flabbergasted by all the hills in Scotland's backdrop, each destination was full of comedic exchanges, beautiful scenery, and of course, establishing ourselves as awe-struck tourists as we snapped pictures of Richard brofisting a statue of Robin Hood while I pretended to peek under his obscenely large shirt. Needless to say, we made a lot of impressions within those seven days.
Now, we all had the magnificent opportunity to lament for what the British had done to each of our lands, but we decided to turn our ancestor's hardships into a mockery. From my declared Tea Parties to Jin demanding the return of his island properties confiscated by the British during a period of weakness, our exchanges were egregious and brainless. That was the beauty of the joke. By exaggerating the past, we spent so much time laughing, there were times I nearly collapsed on the London sidewalk because I literally couldn't breathe. I guess it was our form of social control. We turned what could have been completely awkward (I.E. Only American girl surrounded by smelly European boys) into a slightly less awkward situation to when I forced the boys to sleep on the same bed at hostels because I definitely wasn't the sharing-type. By the end, everyone was more relaxed around one another and we were able to break out of the preordained social mold that apparently transpires when people of mixed cultures clash. We playfully jostled each other about our nation's misdeeds, our 'hideous' annunciations of a certain word, to our celebrities. That is what made the trip so memorable. Although the sites, stories, and adventures we shared within that allotted time... nothing can compare to the exchanges that sparked whenever an opportunity arose.