5 Weird American Quirks That Have Always Perplexed Me

These depictions of American behaviour always had me scratching my head and looking for reasons why!

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Introduction

American cinema, or rather Hollywood has spread to most corners of the globe and has managed to establish itself as an exemplar of quality film making. It sold us on the American dream; the idea of material wealth, a romantic life, a promiscuous life, a travellers life, an adventurer’s life, following your dream, hustle culture and everything in between. Some movies made us put on our thinking caps, some of them have startled and befuddled us, and some have made us fall out of our seats with rib-tickling laughter.

But regardless of genre, there’s a quintessential set of behaviours and quirks in American movies that have always managed to rouse and stir up my imagination. I do understand that reality is very different from whats portrayed in the movies, and there’s many depictions of Indian culture too that aren’t a part of our daily life. But there’s a couple of cultural traits that are frequently depicted in American movies which have managed to pique my imagination and arouse my curiosity.

These behaviours and mannerisms might not represent the larger American population or anyone at all, and they might exist purely in the realm of movies. But they’re thought provoking and hilarious all the same.

Here they are:

Electric Toothbrushes
I’ve always noticed actors in American movies using only electric toothbrushes. Especially in movies that were produced only this past decade. Like seriously, aren’t there enough number of power hungry resource depleting devices all around us? Aren’t enough of our daily tasks automated and performed by machines already? You need an automatic toothbrush now?

I’m going crazy here just maintaining all the data cables, chargers, and other accessories that come with my wireless headset, mobile phone, fitness watch, digital camera and what not! It’s literally driving me nuts, and I just want to get rid of something somehow. Sure some of you don’t own fitness trackers or digital cameras so you can afford to have another gadget in lieu of those. But why a toothbrush? Seriously why? All that thing does is vibrate and turn. Your hand is going to do a hell of a better job at scrubbing your teeth clean without the vibration.

To even think that on top of all the mechanized contraptions we’re surrounded by, someone would actually want to add another gizmo to the list? I’d literally go bonkers. There’s a carton full yesteryear’s accessories piled up in the house somewhere, and we’re afraid to discard anything from it on the off chance that we might need something later on. I’m sure there’s one such carton lying hidden in the attic of every upper middle class home, gathering dust and rusting without really serving any useful purpose to anyone.

What a complete waste of resources and material!

Drinking straight out of the tap
I get a gag reflex every time I see someone in an American movie drinking straight out of the tap. I’ve watched thousands of American movies. But for some reason, this particular act always manages to gross me out and make me sick. Yeah, I know I know. The water that flows through your taps is already pure and safe for drinking. Unfortunately for us Indians, it isn’t. The water which flows through our taps won’t be anywhere close to drinking grade without it passing through a ton of filtration.

India is a pretty big country and you’re bound to come across different filtration techniques across the length and breath of the place. But by far, the most common one is the UV+RO electric water filter.

In smaller towns or villages you’ll see them use non-electric means of filtering the water, or none at all, as the water might directly be obtained from a forest stream nearby, or the ground water in that area itself must be amazingly clean.

Anyways, if you as a non-American thought drinking out of the tap was weird, wait till you read number 4.

Medicine cabinet in the bathroom
A subset of the above, you’ll always notice how medicine cabinets feature not in the bedroom, or anywhere else, but rather in the bathroom. Quite often, or almost always, you’ll notice the protagonist of the movie taking their medicines in the bathroom. They’d have their bathroom cabinet stocked full of meds, right above their basin. They’ll take out their meds from there, fill a glass full of water from the tap and drink it straight up.

Drinking straight out of a tap is one thing.

But drinking out of a bathroom tap is totally something else. It’s quite uncomfortable for us Indians to watch someone drink straight from the very same tap they use to brush their teeth, wash their face, and what not!

And why is there a medicine cabinet in your bathroom, Americans? Aren’t bathroom cabinets meant for toiletries? You know what I see inside mine? A shaving brush, a toothbrush, shaving cream, tooth paste, moisturizing lotion, hair cream, spare soap, body powder and deodorant.

Sorry Americans! I just don’t see how “medicine” , of all things, fits in there.

Using only toilet paper
This one stands out as the most disgusting and perplexing quirk depicted by characters in American movies. I mean, obviously it isn’t visually depicted, but you get the gist. There’s always someone yelling in the house about the toilet paper needing refilling or something like that. Also, I’ve never seen a faucet in the bathroom in most American movies that I’ve watched. It’s always toilet paper that’s featured which is usually an empty roll, with either the guy or girl from the couple procrastinating about it to the other.

Never in a million lifetimes would I ever wipe my butt with only toilet paper after I was done with my main business. That’s just unsanitary, unhygienic and downright disgusting. No matter how much you wipe, all that dry poo is still sitting there on your skin,and getting all the nasties from it onto the rest of the skin on your butt with help from your underwear. This has been proven time and again.

Again, I just cannot comprehend how out rightly nasty and disgusting this weirdly American quirk is. Hey, I don’t even know if it’s American! Is it? Or is it just a Western thing? Anyways, it occurs in American movies a lot, so it definitely belongs in this article.

Getting Coffee ‘To Go’ and sipping it as you drive
I kept the funniest one for last.

Ever seen Indian city traffic in a movie or video?

If we Indians stopped to get coffee on the way to work, we’d literally reach our offices in the afternoon. Such is the volatility of rush hour traffic on our roads that missing our window of opportunity by just 5 minutes can make the difference between being on time to being miserably late to the office. In India a huge volume of traffic spills onto the roads at certain time slots, and if you’ve missed your usual slot, you’re a goner.

The only thing you’ll be doing on your way to work is begging and pleading with your boss on the phone to let you keep your job. Not drinking coffee!

But let’s say you live close to work and can afford to stop at a joint on the way to grab a cup of coffee. Now that this cafe culture has spread everywhere, we do have a couple of joints that will gladly pour our coffee into a plastic cup and hand it to us in a paper bag ‘to-go’. But by the time you’ve arrived at the office, the only thing that’s had their hearty share of all your coffee will be your top, your pants and your car.

Indian roads are uneven, unscientifically designed, and is pockmarked with craters, potholes, sand, and stones everywhere. Everything that could come in the way of a smooth unhindered drive will definitely do. Pipes and fittings jutting out of the road, fallen branches from the canopy above, stray stones, construction debris, garbage, and all the other miscellaneous things that one could find on an Indian road.

And even if the roads were good (because they actually are in some posh localities), Indian traffic is itself so chaotic and unpredictable that you’ll be braking almost every minute. A biker making a mad dash for it will suddenly swerve into your lane. An airport taxi who’s also in a mighty hurry might apply their brakes suddenly. Or a bus, lorry, or other kind of heavy vehicle might have no other choice but to slowly nudge you out of your lane, all making your journey extremely unpleasant and nightmarish.

People brake abruptly all the time. Your steering wheel is gonna be enjoying some good quality caffeine if your coffee cup isn’t sealed.

And last but not the least, gears! Automatic transmissions might have made their debut on the Indian stage a few years ago and there might be huge market penetration. But by and large, Indians drive cars with stick shifts. How on earth could we possibly change gears, brake abruptly, and drink coffee at the same time?

Conclusion

Is there a peculiar or weird quirk you follow in your country that isn’t followed elsewhere? Are they routinely depicted in your movies? What other cultural traits have you found to be strange and peculiar in American movies?

Do let me know in the comments bar to the side.