Monday, August 6, 2007

"You alright?"

I'm amused by this bit of British English. Two friends run into each other in the mall. "Hiya! You alright?" one will say. "Oh, hi! Haven't seen you in a while!" It's almost like the equivalent of "What's up?" -- an even more informal "How are you?" without bothering with the pleasantries of answering how you actually are. I half-grin whenever I hear this conversation repeated. It's all run together -- "Yewallwrite?" It's such a funny greeting -- even declarative. As if you could be anything other than alright.

This weekend was the first time I was confronted with this greeting. I knocked on my neighbor's door, to be greeted by the 18-year-old daughter. "Oh!" she says. "You alright?" Before I could get my bearings of what she actually meant, I wondered if my hair was on fire, or if my skin had suddenly turned purple. Perhaps she was worried our house was on fire. I felt the need to put her at ease. "Oh, I'm fine! There's not a problem! I just, um ..." Right. She was just saying hello, I suddeny realized. Oh, bollocks. "Um, is your dad here?"

I mean, I did need something, or else I wouldn't have knocked on the door. It wasn't really a matter of being alright or not alright. It's just that we were dropping a wardrobe out our bedroom window, and I needed help catching it.
I think the reason the British never leave their villages and their homes is because they can't get the furniture out. We tried to get this particular piece down the stairs every which way. No way, not without taking out the 40+ screws. So, we threw it out the window, the window, the second story window, with a heave and a ho, and a hi and a ho ... (oh. am I the only one who knows that song?) We had to take the legs off the dining room table to fit it in the front door. Our couch just barely made it in. Our neighbors have a grand piano. They brought that in through a neighbor's yard on the next street over, then inched it along the 8-foot brick fence and in through the back double-doors. Can't picture it? Neither can I, and I'm looking right at where they must have pulled off this feat.
Anyway, the wardrobe came out through the window without a hitch and is now residing in the sunroom awaiting a new owner. Oh, and we're alright.

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