Ameroman and other American things


That’s what I am. Romerican and I brainstormed my status and he came up with “Ameroman.” Perfect blend to describe a Romanian in America with a twist. The twist is the key to joining the two identities — it’s trying to be a little bit of both and at times — at least in my case — try to be a little more American than Romanian simply because it’s where I play the game these days.

I’m sure Romerican is dealing with the same dilemma, and I’m sure that when he enthusiastically tries Romanian chocolate and reviews horrible Brasov bars he feels less American and more Romanian.

I’ll dwell on this for a minute. It’s not just being there that does it. I have met many Romanians in America that know as little about their temporary (or sometimes permanent) home as they did when they got here. It happens to other nations too and it happens most often when you go abroad as a foreign student and you tend to hang with other outsiders because it’s easier and it requires less cultural weight-lifting.

I actively resisted spending time with the international crowd. I wanted to learn about America so I can speak its lingo, get involved in its issues and be proficient in its good and its bad. Maybe I did it simply because I am a journalist, but my hope is that there are other people who apply the same strategy. Why? Because if you are going to be in one country for a few years, it will home for that time. And if it’s home (albeit an improvised home) you need to protect it. And to protect it you need to understand what’s happening around you.

I love Romerican’s writing because I sense in him the same enthusiasm I had almost three years ago when I sent long dispatches about the US home. He doesn’t mock or accuse or stereotype. Sure, he has fun with discovery — we all do — but I believe he also enjoys being part of a different culture. There is something very appealing to straddling two political. social, economic and intellectual paradigms. It’s one heck of a brain exercise.

Which gets to a belated point. Here is another of my snarky observations I wrote for Josh soon after settling in the US (go here for my first one). It seems it was meant to be a guide to American things. It’s dated October 2003 and it’s the first time I notice that I had correctly predicted the results of the 2004 presidential elections.

Oh, it was signed Komrad Kris Kovach.

Disclaimer: Komrade Kovach uses an interpreter – himself of foreign origin – to get his thoughts across. This site supports the costs of paying the interpreter because it cares for its readers. Without Vladimir Mucusov the only think you would understand from Kovach’s writing would be “Perestroika!” and “Vodka!”

Komrade Kris Kovach’s guide to American things

Americans, like other species, live in houses, apartments, duplexes and so on. They wake up in a bed – theirs or someone else’s. Men, like most of us, whip it out every morning and go to the bathroom for the morning relief. That’s when then things start changing:

– the toilets are very aggressive and are filled with water so you don’t dirty the bowl. When you flush, you have to hold on to something or you might get flushed down as well.
– TV has so many channels that you forget what you wanted to watch when you start zapping. I decided for Black Entertainment TV because it is an obvious sign of discrimination against white people and mandarin Chinese who can’t rap.
– you eat cereals or toast bread. Everything tastes like rubber so you are better off chewing on your rubber slippers and dreaming of the perestroika days.
– all Americans have cars. The ones who don’t are younger than 16. Even people in prison have a car out there waiting for them. Those impaired, who cannot drive are either taken out in the woods and shot or locked in a room with a TV showing only Speed channel.
– most Americans hit the floor after one beer. I cannot drink vodka with them because in five minutes they’ll be sleeping on the table and I will end up talking to myself for the rest of the night.
– you cannot call women “madam” or “lady”. It seems that if you call them madam they become angry because you hinted at them being hookers — if you call them lady they become pissed because you are implying they would never charge for sex.
– American women are blonde by default. Those who aren’t are much more expensive.
this country will vote for Bush Jr once again. But don’t worry comrades. I still know people who can get plutonium in exchange for seedless grapes.
– Americans are too polite. They always ask “how are you?” They don’t mean it. You could say “my fridge fell on my toe while I was on the phone with a terrorist network from the Middle East” and their reply would be “Oh cool… I am ok too.”
– they tend to use the word “like” a lot. “it’s like I went home, and like my kitchen door was like open and I was like so scared that someone like came in!”
– most of them are afraid to talk about sex. They masturbate with their eyes closed so they keep true to their purist origin.
– they talk a lot about politics because most of them can’t talk about anything else. The last book they read was a coloring book from the mid 80s.
– blacks, Asians and Indians do live in the U.S. They are just fictional characters in a movie.
– Americans use checks and credit cards instead of cash because they cannot count.

One Response to “Ameroman and other American things”

  1. Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad to hear you get out and embrace the natives (even if it is DC).

    Before moving to Romania, I had been living in Seattle (for the second time) planning my first tourist trip to Romania when I stumbled across just in time to snap up a ticket to see Iris and Paula Seling live in concert.

    So, I went. It was held at the University of Washington and there were a couple hundred folks in attendance. I’m sure you realize pre-emptively that I raised a few eye brows and caused people to nod their friends’ attention in my direction. I didn’t exactly fit the ethnic look of the room. To their credit, two or three people approached me in Romaneste, but all I could do was apologize “noo vorb esk lim bah ro munah” and announce my English requirement. That ended things, pretty much.

    Sure, I could quote a few BUG Mafia lyrics, talk trash about your mother, and sing a few snippets of an Iris ballad or two, but basically I couldn’t string together a coherent sentence. I had fun anyway. Iris really got the crowd excited, although I personally preferred Paula’s jazz-based show (not pop!).

    I did meet one guy there who spoke to me in English towards the end of the show, but I soon figured out his talk about “teaching me Romanian” would cost me two $100 tickets to the Sonics game. I passed.

    Now, after my first trip to Romania, I was planning a second visit because I had enjoyed myself so much and this time I found some barbati roman through online chats who were living in Seattle. I met them in person and had a great time. They marveled at my knowledge of any Romanian politics and my attempts to speak. I marveled at their complete and utter lack of integration.

    Ah, here we arrive on your point. I really like those guys and still count them as friends. In fact, Mihai just stopped by Brasov to say hello just a few weeks ago during his vacation to visit his parents in Zalau. Most of all of them will readily admit they have almost no contact with normal Americans. They really stick to each other. When I met Mihai, despite living in the US for two years, his Engleza was as bad as my Romanian is today. Others spoke more fluently, but the idea was the same.

    You really have to get out there and dive in. I’d say my weakest point is definitely language because most everyone *wants* to talk in English to me and that leaves me struggling to learn more than normal. On the contrary, Mihai has finally crawled out of his shell after meeting me and is now speaking very well, making friends, and absorbing American culture more and more. Good for him.

    Let’s hope I improve my communication skills in the coming months. I’m embarrassingly behind the ball, considering my grasp of how important it is to be able to express oneself intelligently now and then.

    In the meantime, I read Komrade KK’s list out loud and you got some laughs here. The big hit was about the inability to count…

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