(DISCLAIMER: No part of the following post should be interpreted as 'knee-jerk anti-Americanism'; as I've said many times before, I love Otis Redding and Andy Warhol and Christina Ricci and Converse sneakers and insane conspiracy theories far too much to slag off 300 million people. I'm just saying, though, right...)
When I meet an American, s/he usually asks me where I'm from, which is a perfectly sensible question. To which I give what I hope is a perfectly sensible reply, which is "London".
Because I'm not a complete social retard, I then ask the same question of my interlocutor. Who, more often than not, says something along the lines of: "I'm from the States."
Well, I mean, duh? It's just possible that he's clarifying that he's not Canadian, I suppose. But do Americans not realise that, as soon as they open their expensively realigned mouths, they are announcing their Americanness? We get that bit - where in America? New York? LA? Or somewhere in the flyover states, somewhere that only really impinges our attention when there's a high-school massacre?
Last year, in Cambodia, I met a nice American couple.
"Where are you from?" I asked.
"We're from the States."
"Riiight... Whereabouts in the States?"
"A city called Minneapolis."
"Gee, you mean you've heard of it?"
And rather than saying that I come from London, should I be announcing that I come from England, as if every atom of my being, from my accent to my pasty skin, from my yellow-grey teeth to my fondness for sarcasm, doesn't scream that fact out loud?
PS: Serendipitously, this turns up in my inbox, courtesy of the ever-delicious Very Short List. I like the Scottish one best.