The Problem Child

On America’s birthday, England “fondly” remembers the “best” memories of his “son.”

 

Did we want him back?

That was the question everyone wanted to know in the aftermath of the war. Over time I started to understand that people weren’t asking if we wanted to reclaim a rebellious colony. What people wanted to know was… if we missed him.

To decide whether one misses someone, one has to determine whether there was anything to miss. But, you see, never in his centuries of existence has America ever done anything to make him worth missing. In fact, he’s often made me want to disown him.

I could easily think of five hundred abhorrent things America has done (and then there would be five hundred more repressed memories lying in wait to be unearthed through the therapy I will soon surely need). But to spare us both, I will talk about only five.

I.

So the two of us were on the dock, and I believe we were unloading a shipment of some textiles I’d brought over. It was during the Seven Years War, I know for a fact.

“So, I’ve been practicing my French,” he said as if trying to be conversational.

I dropped the crate I’d been carrying down with a harsh thud and shot him a glance. “Is that right? So, let’s hear it.”

“Hello, how are you?” he said in French. “The ocean is beautiful.”

I remember thinking:

Arrogant sod! I know he’s meaning to toy with me by implying that he’s been spending time with that bastard. Well, no matter. I suppose it’s a good thing that he is happy to learn. Right, right. I should… be supportive. Respond positively. Yes.

“Well,” I said, “that didn’t sound all too bad. I might even say it sounded good.”

“Much appreciated. I’ve been learning by just speaking and listening. Common phrases that we use together most often are what I remember best. Have you been well? How much for this? Good night.”

“Alright, seems practical–”

Yes, that feels good! I want more. Please, harder…

I immediately regretted the restraint I showed earlier.

II.

At some point during The Rebellion and after that spastic, childish episode called the Boston Tea Party, America adopted coffee as his national beverage because tea was too British. Apparently, tea has a sense of humor.

We were meeting diplomatically and I, out of sheer politeness, offered him tea from the pot on the table.

“Oh,” he said as he chuckled in a condescending manner, “I must apologize–I don’t drink tea anymore. The fish? Yes. I? No.”

“Oh, he doesn’t drink tea anymore?” I mocked. “What does he drink, then?”

“Coffee. Dark, strong, flavorful. Much better than that watery leaf garbage you consume.”

“Flavorful, yes–if you enjoy the taste of dirt.”

“That’s so charming, England. So very charming. Would you care to know how I feel about you and your tea?”

Before I could get a word in he slapped the teapot over. It was a bratty thing to do and he suffered accordingly, for the burning hot liquid splashed onto his lap.

His whole body jerked and his face went scarlet, features twisting to suppress the pain and play off the agony like it was nothing–as if that would make him look tough.

I just smiled and patted his shoulder.

“That’s right, stiff upper lip. Just as I taught you.”

III.

He barged into my office with a deathly serious look on his face.

After he stood there staring at me with death in his eyes, I got so anxious that I blurted out, “Well, get on with it!”

“England,” he said in the gravest voice I’d ever heard him conjure, “we need to consummate our special relationship.”

I decided, at that moment, that one day I was going to kill him.

“America, you may not realize this, but some of us are recovering from a war.”

“Are you saying there’s no place in recovery for love? On the contrary!” He bent himself at the midsection, putting his hands on my desk while his arse stuck out. “Lie with me, England.”

“Lie with yourself.”

“Gather up the family–” (by this I could only assume he meant the other countries of the United Kingdom) “–and we can have an old-fashioned orgy–”

“Enough! Don’t mention family and then orgies in the same breath, you disgusting sod.”

“Well, first, we’re not actually related by blood. I don’t even think we’re genetically related, either.”

“Quite the scientist, aren’t you?”

“And since when were you opposed to inbreeding?”

Yep, I was going to kill him.

IV.

America can take anything bad and find a way to make it worse. For example, the Suez Crisis.

He told me, “I’m trying to think of a good metaphor for the shift from Pax Britannica to Pax Americana. Right now I’m torn between the imagery of you guys handing me your crown, or it maybe falling off and me catching it.

It had been a year or two since the incident, but we were all still on edge. We never really recovered from the consequences of our failed campaign–which America had strongly opposed. Whenever there’s a build-up up frustration, there’s got to be a release.

“Piss off,” I snapped. “Just piss right off. One day that crown is going to tumble from your fat head and you’re going to fall so much harder and farther than we ever have. Oh, shut up. Shut up.”

“I’m not even saying anything!”

“But that shit-eating grin says plenty–”

“Man, are you–?”

“You were so lucky, you know? To have lived your life with me to your north and a weak, impossibly fragmented neighbor at your southern door. You have never known war like we have or have ever had to suffer and sacrifice like we have.” We–not just the UK, but Europe. Ours is a bloody history.

“England, I–”

“The exceptionalism you spout is a bloody sham. You’re just a man, America. You’re just as flesh and blood and fallible as I am. There’s nothing that makes you better than–than Rome, Persia, Mongolia, Germany–”

It was then that I became aware that I was having an outburst, my heart rate climbing. I promptly made my exit before America was no longer too stunned to speak.

Later I would feel embarrassed by the episode, but… I don’t regret telling him those things. He needed to hear them.

He still does.

V.

Over the phone, We got into a bit of a row the night Brexit became official.

“Boooooy, you really did it now.”

“Never call me boy, okay?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. What I meant was that you are now at the back of the queue.” America had warned us that leaving the EU would drop us down on his priority list. “There. I used your stupid word.”

“Oh, brilliant. I’m so proud.”

“You know you sound, like, really pretentious, right?”

“And you always sound like you have a very low IQ.”

“Oh ho! This one’s got humor, he does!” I was temporarily stunned because all of a sudden he’d adopted an ungodly accent. “Yes, yes, I am England, and I have had my head up my arse–” he pronounced it with a harsh r sound, “–for six centuries! Why, yes, Britain did, in fact, enslave nearly half the world then lost all our power and glory to a former colony. Cheers!”

My god. He was attempting to sound posh. Well, two could play that game.

“What’s up, bitches?” I heard him snort-laugh at my sudden accent. “It’s me, America, and I’ve got this little problem where I keep making a complete goddamned ass of myself all over the world. Am I really that much of a tool, or am I just too stupid to learn from my mistakes?”

“Oi, mate! You watch your tongue, you cuckhold.” Then his accent became an amalgamation of several dialects all at once. “Say, chap, did I ever tell you why I’ve gone and left the EU? ‘Cause I’m bloody mental, an’ I don’t want anyone tellin’ me how racist I can or can’t be.”

“Racism? Dude, I’ve got tons of that. Patriotism? You bet. Nothin’ beats jerkin’ it to the Star Spangled Banner. Yee haw, brother.”

“Aye, you’re a nasty little wingdip, you are. I’d hop the pond and give you a right dufflerop if I wasn’t tripping over my own bollocks.”

“You wanna bone, my man? I’m, like, really jonesin’ to have my ass plowed–as if is getting dicked by my terrible Middle East policies wasn’t enough.”

“I’ll snog you silly, you rascally fistyfrump. You rubbish jammerjup.”

“Those aren’t words, dumbass.”

“Ey wot? I’m the schtupid one? Riddle me this, would a wanker throw his economy into a bloody tizzy, ruin the job market, and destroy his reputation by giving the world a reason to shred the last remaining bits of respect they had for him by leaving the EU–? By god, that’s exactly what I’ve gone and done, haven’t I? Oh, I’ve really cocked up this time.”

I’ll spare you the rest of the conversation, but let’s just say our back and forth went on for some time. At some point, Scotland popped his head in, called me a “raging c*nt,” and walked off. Splendid.

Anyhow, by now it should be painfully obvious why I do not shed tears on July 4th, why instead I opt to drink away all the regrettable memories I have of America.

Speaking of drink…

***

Later that night Wales accosted England on his way to the kitchen.

“I saw your diary,” she said.

“Diary?”

“You had it up on your computer and–”

“You got into my computer!”

“You didn’t mean all of that, did you? Those harsh things about America?”

England folded his arms. “So you’re moaning to me about the contents of my private journal? The one you stole a peek at when you broke into my personal computer?”

Just then the doorbell rang, giving England the perfect excuse to walk away from Wales and her interrogation.

Upon opening the door, he found a plate of layered cake at his feet and a colorful greeting card beside it. No person in sight. He grabbed the card.

What’s up, man?

Missed ya at the party.

It’s cool, tho. You were probably busy.

Saved you some cake.

Extra moist. That’s what the box said. 😉

Cheers.

A cavity disaster and a cheeky card. England expected as much from America.

What he didn’t expect, however, was for the cake to start to spark, pop, and burst into a crackling explosion of red, white, and blue.


Notes

In America, the c-word is infinitely more offensive than the f-word and I’m too chicken to say it without censors ahahaha….

Author: Allison Black

Allison is an international relations major who likes exploring politics through fiction. Besides writing, she enjoys video games, graphic design, and crying.

4 thoughts on “The Problem Child”

  1. Definitely a type of love-hate relationship going on there. But probably not as strong as love or hate. Admiration and Exasperation I guess. I find it fascinating how much UK-US trade went on even when relations were at their worst (excluding actually war) in that 100 years or so after independence. It’s like there’s a formal, critical daytime government position and then at night a lot of furtive but lucrative activity down by the docks.

    Like

    1. And really, does anyone have a friendship (or familiar relationship) that *isn’t* love-hate? I can’t speak for other Americans, but personally I love you guys 😉

      I think with politics and IR there’s always going to be a lot of that daytime vs night time dynamic. (Like China publically condemning North Korea yet continuing economic endeavors.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aww, shucks, we love you too! Well, most of you. There are clear exceptions. Ooh look, one them’s just landed…

        Yup, definitely a lot of Left Hand / Right Hand relationships (as in the Left Hand doesn’t know or admit to what the Right Hand is doing).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, right! You guys get to experience the joy that is President Trump. It’s just a shame he has to come back.

        Well, I’m rooting for the protesters and their baby balloons. Give ’em hell for us ✊

        Liked by 1 person

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