Random trans-Atlantic claptrap

Fanny fanny fanny fanny… there, I hope you had a good laugh!

It’s not always easy being an American expat. There isn’t a manual, but maybe there should be. As a matter of fact, if I was “Minister in Charge of Helping New American Expatriates,” my very first action would be to rearrange arrivals procedures at Heathrow airport.

No longer would Americans be greeted by signs welcoming them to the UK, or by immigration officers checking passports. The very first thing I would do, to make life better for my charges, would be to hire a bunch of employees to stand out on the tarmac, so that they were visible from every seat on every plane arriving from the USA. In rain, sleet or snow, they’d be out there, holding over their heads huge signs with the following message, printed in big bold letters: “WARNING – ‘FANNY’ MEANS VAGINA HERE.”

Fanny Brice, famous American model and actress
Fanny Brice, famous American with unfortunate name

This is the kind of useful information that could literally save lives. Well, not literally save lives, but it could save a lot of people from getting laughed at.

As my fellow Americans all know, in our beloved homeland the word ‘fanny’ is a very mild bit of slang for someone’s posterior. Did I mention that it means vagina here in the UK?

In the USA, ‘fanny’ is the kind of word a teacher might use with a pre-schooler who has fallen down on their bottom: “Oh sweetie, did you hurt your little fanny?”

Or it’s the sort of word a kindly old grandmother might say to a schoolbus filled with children who are disembarking for Christian day camp too slowly: “C’mon y’all- get your fannies in gear.”

This is called a "bum bag" in the UK
A UK “bum bag”

Once again, I remind you that in the UK, fanny means vagina, and the above examples take on very different meanings once you have that crucial, crucial bit of knowledge. No need to thank me for warning you, I suppose it’s my ministerial duty.

Oh yeah- it’s also worth pointing out that the word pants means underpants here. I think we may need more than one sign on that tarmac.



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