March 17, 1946
Strained Anglo-U.S. Relations
by a GI Bridegroom
As British Bride Makes Tea
Written Exclusively for AP News Features
Newspapers these days are crammed with stories and pictures of the English brides as they arrive in America, where their adoring husbands wait with outstretched arms. I am one of the above males whose eyes are now as open as his arms were then. Not that I regret in the least my choice of a wife. She’s wonderful. But the routine of my usually normal life has received a shaking from which I doubt I will ever recover. I will ever recover. I’m writing this as a warning to those whose wives have yet to come, so that they can better prepare themselves for their ordeal.
First of all, reconcile yourself to being the cause of your wife’s hysterias as you tenderly “brew” her a cup of tea upon her arrival. Tea bag may seem ideal to you, but she’ll go through the same rigmarole she did in England. It will remind you of one of the three witches in “Macbeth” as she mumbles anxiously over the pot. And she’ll make her tea strong, so strong that you’ll mistake coffee for weak tea ever after. Relatives will come to see your bride. Some of them will have unmarried daughters, so they’ll not be too unbiased in their opinions before they begin their probing. But all of them will, at once time or another, say “Well, how about serving us a cup of English ‘taye’? How’s my accent, eh? Heh, heh, heh.”
Your wife will spring into action, anxious to please. The tea pot will be warmed, she’ll go through a ritual about “one for the pot and one for each cup,” and your uncles and aunts will be confronted with their “taye,” if they can recognize the dark brown fuel. They’ll sip tentatively, make a face such as you haven’t seen since prohibition, shudder once ore twice (two shudders mean that they’ve survived) and weakly mutter, “Oh, this is really good!”
Meanwhile your wedding presents will be cancelled, you’ll miss out on three invitations to supper, and if you have a rich uncle, you’ll be stricken from his will on the presumption that you’ve imported a woman to poison him. If you’re as foolish as I was, you’ll try to teach you little Limey to make coffee. You’ll explain the operation of dripolators, percolators and such. You’ll make a pot or two of coffee to show her how.
And after all your lessons, your spouse will continue to sip her tea loudly at indecently short intervals, sneering openly at your requests for your favorite beverage. When you knew your wife in England, her accent was contiguing, fascinating, ‘cute’. Wait until you hear how it’s changed! While waiting for passage, she’s been reading American books, devouring American films, listening to American radio, programs via short wave. Her mongrel dialect will be like nothing you’ve ever heard before, “I say, this is a jolly good blowout, ‘dja hear me, kiddo?”
You’re going to have the problem of finding girl friends for her. You may know some, as I did, but as soon as you’ve introduced them, you’ll be subjected to a merciless English quiz program. “How long have you known her? Why does he call you ‘Bobby’? Were you ever more that just food friends? Who’s that girl ‘Selma’ she mentioned? “ And so on. But you’ll bear up under it all and live happily. And it you think back just a little, you acted the same way over in England, just before you were married. Remember?