Flashback Friday: American Idle

When I was 12-years old, my family discovered a shocking secret--that my mother was not a legal citizen of the United States. As a young child accompanying her parents, she had moved to America from Great Britain after World War II. So, it never occurred to mother that her status as a legal resident was questionable. Mother found out only as an adult attempting to obtain a passport that she was, in fact, an alien.

You can imagine the hoopla this caused her children. We went around singing songs and telling all our friends that mom was an alien--a bona fide extraterrestrial of the United States. Mom was damn lucky that the movie E.T. had not come out yet and that she had been spared the endless "phone home" jokes it would have inspired. However, although I jested alongside my brother and sisters, a certain irony was not lost on me.

Here, my mother--a 35-year dweller of the U.S., who looked American, sounded American, and used proper English--was the illegal resident of this country. On the other hand, my father--who came to this country as an adult, looked Greek, sounded Greek, and spoke broken English--was the American citizen. Looking at my parents, a betting person would have lost everything.

What is an American?

Mom rectified her status and was sworn in as a citizen in the early 80s without much fanfare. After all, there wasn't much comedic material in mom now being legal. Fortunately, from the children's point of view, dad's struggle with the English language and old-world ideals continued to provide endless source of amusement.

With passport finally in hand, mother decided she wanted to see her homeland and asked my father to join her on the trip.

"Bonnie," dad said with his heavy accent and most determined tone. "You can go, but I don't like England. I don't like it at all, and I won't go with you."

Disappointed but determined, mom badgered and begged for weeks and months, but dad's answer was always the same.

"I don't like England."

Finally and after months of arguing, a thought came to my mother. She waited for her chance to challenge dad's logic on the issue at hand. "Ted, how do you know that you don't like England," she questioned. "You've never been there."

This stumped my father for all of 10 seconds. Then, he went on to explain what has become a classic example of dad's rationale.

"Bonnie, the way I figure it, England is like Alabama. And, I don't like Alabama, so I won't like England. So, there you go."
"But, Ted!" Mom became exacerbated. "You've never been to Alabama either!"
"Oh, yeah!?!" my father countered. "I've been to Georgia and that's close enough."


utenzi said...

OH MY GOD! Diane, your dad argues like a girl!

I liked this post. It's funny that your Mom who has been here practically her whole life wasn't a resident. My father had a situation like that also since he was born in Germany and came here when he was 2.

As for your Dad's argument, having lived in Georgia and visited England I really don't think they have very much in common. As for Alabama--I've only visited there a few times but I don't like the band of the same name so I guess that means I'd not like Romania. Is that how the argument style goes, Diane? Not that I'm trying to be like your Dad or anything....

Diane Mandy said...

Actually, dad argues like a Greek... have you ever tried to argue with a Greek? There is no winning with them. Still, there could be worse things than trying to be like my father. :-) He's the greatest!

Ms Bees Knees said...

it's the same with old italians... arguing with my grand parents was like continually banging my head into a wall. i never got anywhere even though i KNEW i was always right, whaddaya gonna do!? ::shrugs::

Jaws said...

LOl Your Dad cracked me up.. but wow I can't imagain your mothers surprize!!

utenzi said...

I've never argued with a Greek, Diane, unless you count negotiating a price in the agora. Or trying to convince you that your hair was too precious to shave off. LOL It seems I always lose arguments with Greeks!