Saturday, September 22, 2007

Incompatible Humor

Most of the Americans I meet are from California, and a lot of them are from the Bay Area. While I was hanging out on the school trip to Mindo, I was joking around with a couple fellow San Franciscans, and was telling them the quintessential Northern California moment witnessed by Kristin.

In a San Francisco ice-cream shop, there was a little girl waiting in line with her mother, and also a police officer. Being a friendly neighborhood police man, the cop asked the girl what kind of ice cream she was going to get. She replied, "Green tea," and asked, "what kind are your getting?" "Vanilla soy," the cop responded.

They thought this was pretty humorous, and the quadralingual French guy sitting nearby wanted to know what was so funny. I knew it wouldn't make sense without knowing America and California pretty well, but he insisted, and of course he didn't understand. His question: "But what is 'soy'?" I tried to explain, thinking it was just a translation problem, but after about five minutes, it became absolutely clear that he had no idea what soy was, had never heard of a soy bean. Pretty unfathomable to me, having grown up in Ohio where they grow soy beans, and having lived in San Francisco, where they eat the tofu, soy milk, and edamame that comes from them. But I guess that's the difference between France and the USA.

No comments: