Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Culture Clash: The Great Hot Water Bottle Misunderstanding

 It's comforting to browse the British shops and see hot water bottles in their cosy covers offered for sale in full view. This is not the case in America.  When I first felt the onslaught of the Great Western New York Winter (in the days when we still had one, that is) I rushed to Wal Mart to buy a hot water bottle. You'd think nothing would be simpler. You would be wrong.
  I scoured aisle after aisle, shelf after shelf. No sign of a hot water bottle, with or without a cover. (Odd, that. You'd think Americans would really buy into the cuddly panda bottle or the slinky fake leopardskin one but no, not a sign.) . So I asked an assistant. She appeared puzzled at first. Then she gave me a  pitying look and beckoned furtively for me to follow her. She led me into a dark recess of the store - past the Depends and Personal Hygiene products, the laxatives and dental floss, to a dusty shelf that, seemingly, no one had been near for years. She reached right into the back and withdraw a faded box.  Strange that a hot water bottle should come in a box but Americans are different from us.   
   I was in a hurry so I thanked her, grabbed the box and rushed to the checkout.  The girl at the checkout gave me a pitying look too. I thought of mentioning the one about the British having hot water bottles as opposed to the French having .... well, you know what I mean. But I didn't. I have enough of a language problem with American checkout girls as it is.
  It was only when I got it home that I understood. As I opened the box and withdrew the small, if adequate hot water bottle, along with an odd sort of rubber tube, it dawned on me that Americans don't  use hot water bottles for staying warm in bed. They've got electric blankets and heat pads for that.  As I read the blurb on the box I realised I 'd bought a do-it-yourself enema system.

1 comment:

  1. There used to be hot water bottles around. In the 1970's, we still had them, and you see them in old cartoons too.

    But now we have electric blankets, I guess, or microwavable rice/barley bags.