October 12, 2009

To Snog or to Pull?

Cheers! Actually, that’s not at all how you use that word, but I’m having trouble getting it right. Apparently you say “Cheers” as a small thank-you, e.g. when someone holds the door for you or the waiter brings your bill. Nevertheless I’ve taken to answering my phone with it every time my British housemate Alice calls, much to her vexation.

Following up from last week, I promised you I would find a suitable British replacement for the essential American term “skank,” and I have. When you see a girl strutting into a club with three strips of zebra-print cloth around her torso, you can call her “Page Three.” This can be traced back to a British tabloid, The Sun, which always includes a photo of a topless model on the third page. Seriously trashy.

I was dismayed to learn that “snogging,” the term that makes Harry and Cho and every other randy adolescent’s sloppy smooching somehow endearing, is going out of fashion. Instead the kids these days use the unsettling and kind of gross “pulling.” That’s right, “pulling” is the word for kissing. As in, “Last night at the club I saw two people pulling in the corner. It was so Page Three.” I’m completely at a loss for the etymological path that “pulling” took to acquire the new meaning. Any hypotheses?

Other tidbits:

-The British people definitely have a “look,” a certain facial structure, that’s all their own. Today in fact I saw an unmistakably British baby, which was pretty weird.

-I had an Oxford student rite-of-passage this week when I strolled past a tour group to enter one of the many registered-students-only landmark buildings on the campus. I had no actual reason to go inside; I just wanted to flash my student card around and test it out. Yikes, two weeks in and I’m already an elitist.

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