Tina Fey once said, “If you want to make an audience laugh, you dress a man up like an old lady and push her down the stairs. If you want to make comedy writers laugh, you push an actual old lady down the stairs. ” She attributes that quote to Catherine the Great.
She also wrote, “In Washington, officials from the National Rifle Association met with a group of high school students. There were no survivors.”
Fey penned quite a bit about her experience as an adolescent girl in junior high and high school. This subject matter helped inspire one of her greatest big screen successes entitled “Mean Girls.”
A classic scene from the movie basically demonstrates the “great humor rule” that if you just say out loud what everybody already thinks, all of the sudden it becomes funny. I’m talking about the “Cafeteria Seating Chart” scene. In it, two students explain to a new girl from Africa why she doesn’t want to sit in certain places in the cafeteria. They go to great lengths and detail about the sub cultures of their high school population.
I was thinking about this seating chart as I was walking down High Street on Day 34. I realized that in my head I had started labeling people I saw, based upon my four week experiences of covering the same territory on a daily basis. I also realized that when I started mentioning these categories to my friends in the program, they then became “reality.” Not all are Tina-Fey-Funny, but most all ring very true.
In lieu of an indiscernable map I might scribble out, I’ve posted and labeled my “Mean Girls Guide to Oxford Tourist (and locals) Identification.” That way, if you ever come here, you don’t have to do this yourself. You’ll thank me later. So…you’re welcome.
1. The first group is the local business population. The men wear suits, the women generally wear suits and low-heeled shoes. They walk down the sidewalk as if nothing really bothers them and are a minority population among the tourists and students. These sub group is harmless; you can walk past without fear.
2. The second group is the “Walking Designer Label Ads.” Great numbers of the young male students wear Tommy Hilfigar, Abercrombie & Fitch, etc. on a daily basis. The female students generally show their designers by the pattern or label on their handbags, but sometimes their shirts or jeans as well. The only danger with this group is tripping over a cobblestone if you focus too much on trying to read a designer logo unfamiliar to your brain. Viva la Labels!
3. Next is a power group. These are the middle aged tourist couples. Judging from the bags they carry around after all the shopping they do, Oxford loves these people. I’d like to know whether they, or the students, contribute the most to the economy. I have noticed American gender-specific behaviors such as the males standing with their backs against a wall in the shop, while the female peruses store after store. If you know me, you know it pains me to write that observation, but it’s true.
4. Ahh…the picture takers. Things get really comical during the day when thousands of people are trying to dodge, duck or dive or dip (yes, those are the four D’s of dodge ball) out of the way of thousands more picture takers. This task is impossible, of course, so I would venture to say that photos people take home from Oxford include people jumping out of their way, and many, many shots include OTHER picture takers.
5. Consider now, the young lovers. Honestly, it’s pretty hard NOT to consider them, as they are generally making out quite energetically in the alcoves, in the alley ways, next to their college entrances or right in the middle of the sidewalk. Kisses are more public here, I suppose…lots of them. The older people just smile, nod and walk on by. There’s probably a day dream with an Italian accent in the heads of the passers by…”Ah, l’amore, l’amore….” Notice the people grinning in the photo? That’s because the couple had just stopped practicing their kissing, right in front of the group.
6. The fashionistas – towering along on 5 inch heels, checking their hair, adjusting their designer shades or posing by the street signs. People in Europe generally dress a step or so up from “us Okies,” but the fashionistas know it. And, they want YOU to know it too!
7. The next type are “student tourist groups.” Pictured here are a group of female students who can’t speak English. They are practicing giving a passer-by their “I’m lost, can you help me?” card. The yellow backpacks are Cambridge student groups, and the other is a common scene as well…the sponsor is barking orders, “Meet back here in 2 hours! Two hours, okay? Got that?”
8. After the student groups come the “Local Blokes.” Blokes is a term not necessarily used for class or category, but I’m using it because when there is a group hanging out together after work, that word is one of the few that accurately describes the rowdy, rambunctious and infectious laughter. The story telling really does get quite entertaining. Pictured here are just a couple examples of the “Local Blokes,” or blue-collar locals I see every day. The first towers over the heads of his peers and rides his bike to work. The second is my height, talks very quietly (except during the after work fun) and looks tired all the time.
I’m going to wrap this entry here, because I am now halfway finished with my Mean Girl report on Oxford inhabitant typeologies. Yes, there are seven more! Day 35 will include the cyclists, the “Man Bag” dudes, the “Female Student Scarf Crew” and more. Now can you see why I didn’t want to draw you a diagram??