What’s Your “Fancy Like . . .”?

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, 

But every now and then when I get paidI gotta spoil my baby with an upgrade
 
Yeah, we fancy like Applebee’s on a date nightGot that Bourbon Street steak with the Oreo shakeGet some whipped cream on the top tooTwo straws, one check, girl, I got you
 

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

[photo: “Applebee’s,” by Mike Mozart, used under a Creative Commons license]

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Craig Thompson

Craig and his wife, Karen, along with their five children, served as missionaries in Taipei, Taiwan, for ten years before returning to southwest Missouri. His experiences, as well as conversations with other cross-cultural workers, have made him more and more interested in member care and the process of transitioning between cultures. Craig blogs at ClearingCustoms.net.

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