If I were to say that I was “fancy like Applebee’s” you might make some assumptions about me. For instance, I might be an American, not the richest guy in the world, and someone who listens to country music in his pickup truck.
And if you don’t fit into all those categories, you might wonder what “fancy like Applebee’s” even means. If that’s the case, two step over to YouTube to hear Walker Hayes’ top-ten country-western song from last year. In “Fancy Like,” Hayes sings that his “low maintenance” lady is usually content with eating at Wendy’s,
Similes (those “like” and “as” phrases) show what we know. They reveal what we identify with and how we use that to describe the things around us, things that are new, or old things that we want to help others see in a new way. Sometimes they get it. Sometimes they don’t. That’s the way it is for country-music stars, and for cross-cultural workers, too.
So if you’re fancy like Applebee’s, it might be because that’s where you go for a a Bourbon Street Steak during your once-a-year trip to the city to get your documents approved or to make a supply run. Or you could be fancy like Swedish meatballs in the IKEA cafeteria. Or fancy like a hotdog combo, with extra sauerkraut, at the Costco snack bar. Or fancy like a Caffè Mocha at the window table in Starburks, (yes, I do mean Starburks).
That’s how we do, how we do, fancy like . . .
In that spirit, here are a few similes I’ve come up with. Some are based on my own experiences overseas, and some I just imagine might be true for others. I hope they make sense to you, but more than that, I hope they inspire you to come up with your own. Give it a try:
As cute as the senior citizens ballroom dancing in the park every Saturday morning
Pristine like the sky the day before a typhoon
As silent as an empty night-market alley after the exterminators have passed through
As welcome as an English-speaking taxi driver without strong political views
As improbable as a mom and a dad and three kids on one scooter
Smooth like bubble milk tea on a muggy afternoon
As awkward as an angry foreigner yelling, “This would never happen where I’m from!”
Terrified like the young workers at McDonald’s seeing a foreigner approach the counter
Bittersweet like hearing church members say, “We’ll miss you, but we’ll take it from here”
Nervous like power lines during an aftershock
As unexpected as a free cup of Häagen-Dazs on a 13-hour flight
Hopeful like not hitting water all week but drilling one more time
Rotund like the koi fish in the pond next to the national art museum
Noisy like upstairs neighbors pouring their marble collection on the tile floor at 2:00 every morning
As gorgeous as a new visa stamp in a passport
Glorious like a family showing up to a worship service for the first time because they’ve heard that they could learn about the creator there
and . . .
As incredible as finding a frozen turkey and a can of cranberry sauce seven days before Thanksgiving