Since upping sticks and leaving my sunny California nearly 14 years ago, I’ve met some of the most wonderful expats from all over the world and their humour, originality and genius have contributed to some the best memories of my adult life. These are people I fiercely cherish, and my life is richer for the moments we’ve spent together.
However, I must say that there is a special type of expat that I’ve encountered one too many times. I’m not talking about an awkward rendezvous with the seedy class: drug taking, booze swilling, randy swingers at the Back to School Picnics- (which if anyone finds out where such events take place, send an email immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org as this sort of event simply must be featured asap).
I’m talking about the husband of so-and-so who once you lay eyes upon while doing a shop at Auchan, the latest issue of any German magazine is grabbed and thrust in front of your face to avoid potential conversing. New to town? Not sure what I’m talking about? You soon will. In the interest of making your transition as smooth as possible- Let me explain.
Apparently, the expat life can attract some of the worst bores you might ever encounter.
Why? WHY? This is a question that has no real answer. Why did the pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower? Things couldn’t have been that great if they left but maybe- they weren’t just radical separatists but simply interested in an adventure? MAYBE they loved seeing new places and wanted to escape the chauvinistic woman-hating tiny-handed leader who hates immigrants, poor people and minorities? Oh wait! Wrong century! I’m digressing. People have loads of personal reasons for relocating but we are living in a country with more than 170 nationalities and barely half a million people and thus, differences are sometimes magnified.
Look, maybe in their home country, they are the ultimate power couple who delight others with their hilarious yarns but at this Christmas drinks party, you are looking for the nearest exit because all they can do is complain and talk about how terrible your adopted country is and apparently the land from which they hail features streets paved with gold. I’ve come up with a rather low tech approach to getting away from the biggest offenders:
1- Jet Lag
Jet Lag is always the best excuse when you have yawned 46 times while ‘Steve’ from Houston complains about the refrigerator sizes in Europe (Steve is also the first person to ever have a moan about the lack of ice in drinks). The convenient location of our glorious landlocked country and the classiest, cleanest airport in the European Union means travel is always an enticing option. Just be smarter than this writer and when Steve asks where you’ve been traveling, the answer can never be ‘London.’
2- Blame the children
Blaming kids is easy. Faking a call is a great way of getting out of any situation- just make sure the phone is on but doesn’t ring while you are pretending to be discussing an urgent matter with the babysitter. Also, one small caveat: you must actually have children.
3- Start talking about your dream
No one likes to hear about dreams. When ‘Stacey’ has made it her goal of the evening to convince you that Putin is actually a really decent human being, bring up that dream again.
4- Reach out for help
Grab the nearest sucker and say something like ‘Oh, Ken! You simply MUST meet Annabelle. I’m dying for the toilet, but Annabelle also finds life simply unbearable without a Starbucks drive-thru and she also sees no point in wearing anything other than active wear even though she doesn’t actually exercise and is totally fed up with not being able to find a cleaner who doesn’t take THE ENTIRE MONTH OF AUGUST OFF.
You are now heavily armed with excuses so can thank me at the next party we find ourselves attending together. Of course, if you start talking about your dream….then I will know my work here is done, and it is time to go back to the land of palm trees and fake breasts…where did I mention, the streets are paved with gold?!