How I'll Become an American
I have been Hungarian for 38 years. I'll try something else for
the next 38. I'll try to be an American, for instance, North American,
I mean. As an American, I'll speak English fluently. I'll make American
mistakes instead of Hungarian mistakes and I'll call them slang.
As an American, I'll have a credit card. Or two. I'll use
and misuse them and have to pay the fees. I'll apply for other cards right
away.Golden Visa. Golden American. Golden Gate. And I'll buy a car, a great
American car. Then I'll sell my car and buy a smaller West German car because
it's reliable and doesn't use so much gasoline. Later, I'll sell it and buy
a smaller Japanese car with a computer aboard. Then I'll sell it and buy a
camper. When I sell the camper I'll buy a bicycle.
As an American, I'll buy a dog. And a cat. And a goat. And a white
whale. And also some big stones as pets.
I'll live in my own house. It will be mine, except for the 99 percent
mortgage. I'll sell my house and buy a condo. I'll sell my condo and
buy a mobile home. I'll sell my mobile home and buy an igloo. I'll sell
my igloo and buy a tent. As an American, I'll be clever: I'll sell my
igloo and buy a tent when I move to Florida from Alaska.
Anyway, I'll move a lot. And I'll buy the best dishwasher, microwave,
dryer and hi-fi in the world - that is, the USA. I'll have warranty for all -
or my money back. I'll use automatic toothbrushes, egg boilers and garage
doors. I'll call every single number starting 1-800.
I'll buy the fastest food I can get and I'll eat it very slowly
because I'll watch TV during the meals. Of course, I'll buy a VCR. I'll watch
the taped programs and then retape. Sometimes, I'll retape first.
As an American, I'll have an answering machine too. The outgoing
message will promise that I'll call you back as soon as possible, but
it won't be possible soon.
If I answer the phone as an exception, I'll tell you that I can't
talk now because I have a long-distance call on the other line but I'll call
you back as soon as possible ( see above ).
And I'll get a job. I'll always be looking for a better job, but
I won't get the job I want. I'll work really hard since as an American I wanna
be rich. I'll always be in a hurry: Time is Money. Unfortunately, my time
won't be worth as much money as my bosses' time. Sometimes, I'll have
some time and I still won't have enough money. Then I'll start to hate
the wisdom of this saying.
As an American, sometimes I'll be badly depressed. I'll be the patient
of 12 psychiatrists, and I'll be disapointed with all of them. I'll try
to change my life a little bit. I'll try to exchange my wives, my cars, my
lovers, my houses, my children, my jobs and my pets.
Sometimes, I'll exchange a few dollars into other currencies and I'll
travel to Europe, Hawaii, Tunisia, Martinique and Japan. I'll be
happy to see that people all over the world are jealous of us Americans.
I'll take at least 2000 snapshots on each trip. I'll also
buy a video camera and shoot everywhere. I'll look at the tapes, photos and
slides, and I'll try to remember my experiences when I have time and am in
the mood. But I won't have time or be in the mood because I'll get
depressed again and again.
I'll smoke cigarretes. Then I'll be afraid of cancer and I'll stop.
I'll somke cigars. And opium. I'll take a breather and then try LSD and
heroin and cocaine and marijuana. To top it all off: crack. I'll try to stop
but I won't be able.
I'll call 1-800-222-HELP. If nothing helps, I'll have some gay
experiences. And swing. And if I am still unhappy, I'll make the final
effort: I'll try to read a book. I'll buy some best sellers. I'll prefer
James A. Michener. My second favorite will be the "How to Be Rich in
Seven Weeks". I'll try to follow this advice in seven years.
I'll always be concerned about my health as an American. I won't eat
anything but health food until I get ill. From time to time, I'll read
in the paper that I should stop eating meat, sugar, bread, fiber,grains,
iron, toothpaste, and that I should stop drinking milk, soda, water, acid
rain. I'll try to follow this advice, but then I'll read in the paper that
I should do it the other way around.
I'll be puzzled. "Hey, I don't even know what cholesterol is !". Yet,
I'll stick to decaf coffe, sugar-free cookies, salt-free butter and lead-
free gasoline. I'll believe that proper diet and exercise make life longer.
I'll go jogging everyday until I am mugged twice and knocked down three times.
Then I'll just exercise in my room but it will also increase my appetite.
I'll go on several diets, and little by little I'll reach 200 pounds.
As an American, I'll bu a new TV every time a larger screen
appears on the market. In the end, the screen will be larger than than
room. It will be difficult to put this enormous TV into my
living room; thus, I'll put my living roon into the TV. Anyway, my living
room will look very much like the living rooms you can see on the screen.
My life won't differ from the lives you can see on the soaps: nobody
will complain. I won't complain either. I'll always smile.
After all, we are Americans, aren't we ?.
Miklos Vamos is a Hungarian novelist visiting the Yale School of Drama during
the last year. The original source was a photocopy of , transcribed
and forwarded through a series of twisting little email-passages ..
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