Yesterday I ran up again my arch-nemesis, the English Gentleman. I am a straight-talking, midwestern sort of girl. I am aggressive, hard-working and I want to be a leader. My youth and straight-forward nature make me the antithesis of everything the English Gentleman holds dear. I think it’s this part in particular that makes the English Gentleman become upset around me:
[He] need[s] to cultivate impeccable manners, an implacable expression and a strong sense of fair play.
I think the English Gentleman would say that my straight-talking violates “impeccable manners” especially if I point out something that is slightly uncomfortable. (“England is ten years behind the US in this area, where is the acknowledgment of the current state-of-the-art worldwide?”) I definitely lack an “implacable expression” being accused at times of having a “child-like enthusiasm” and being “perhaps even overly passionate” about the things I hold dear. Hopefully I would never be accused of violating fair play, but it is true that I find the English to be remarkably self-effacing when it comes to their accomplishments.
I worry that the presence in the room of an English Gentleman actually makes me worse. I fear that I bristle at the concept and become even more young, more female, and most critically, more American. This worry, that my job progression will become halted by my inability to act more like an English Gentleman, is still to me the most difficult part of life on these shores.