The classic red phone booths are all over London. (US Presswire)
But my two real goals are: (1) to get as many cool Harry Potter things as possible for my daughters and, (2) to perfect my use of the word “cheers.”
The Harry Potter gifts are the big one. Before I left, I had just finished reading the seventh book to my oldest daughter, and reading those seven books to her over the last three or four years was so emotional and connecting that I almost started crying when we finished — not because the book was over, but because she’s three or four years older than when we started. I’ve only read one Harry Potter book to my youngest daughter, and part of me wants to stop now … with that absurd hope that maybe she won’t grow any older if I do stop.
But it’s perfecting the way I say “cheers” that is my personal ambition. Obviously, any time you go to another country — especially one as cool as England — there are things you want to bring back home. The two main things I’d like to bring back are the red-yellow traffic light* and that word, cheers.
*Here, just before the traffic light turns green, the red and yellow lights glow together. It’s kind of like the starting lights at a drag race. I am all for this.
Cheers is just such a good word. It can mean, depending on the context, “Thank you” or “You’re welcome” or “Good luck” or “Good bye” or “To your health.” You could imagine a fairly long conversation where they people only use the word cheers.
Guy walks into a pub.
Guy points at beer. Bartender pours it.
Guy (holding up glass to pub): Cheers.
Everyone in pub: Cheers
Someone starts to walk out.
Guy walking out: Cheers.
Everyone in pub: Cheers.
And so on and so on. If the word keeps evolving, it might end up being one of only six words left in the language — English people will use cheers the way the Smurfs use “smurf.” Which would be OK with me. Cheers is a great word. I badly want to incorporate it into my daily conversation.
This, however, is not as easy as it sounds. I find that whenever I try to use the word cheers it comes out all stilted and awkward.
Store clerk: Here’s your change.
Store clerk: Beg your pardon?
Me (sheepishly): Thank you.
So, yes, it will take work. But that’s what the Olympics are about, right? Achieving greatness. Just this morning, as I walked off the bus to the gymnastics venue, I said to the bus driver, “Cheers.” And he said, “Cheers, mate.”
Mate. That’s a good word, too. But, you know, one goal at a time.