Introducing My Czech Wife to America

Steve Fisher23. listopadu 2012 • 06:00


The first time I took my Czech wife to America, she was startled every time someone working in a shop or a restaurant smiled at her and said, "Hiiii! How are you doing today?" Their enthusiastic welcome seemed weird to her.


"Does the waitress need to know how I'm doing?" she asked me once in a diner.


"She does," I said. "She wants to make sure you're not some crazy person who's suddenly going to pull out a gun and start shooting everybody."


"Are there really so many people with guns?" she asked.


"That was a joke," I explained.


"No," she said. "I'm serious. Is it safe? Shouldn't we have a gun, too?"


"Um…that was a joke, too, right?" I said.


She smiled. "I love this cheeseburger," she said.


Another thing that made her crazy after a while was all the driving. My family's house, where we were staying, was in the suburbs, which meant that whenever you wanted to go somewhere, you had to get there by car. If you wanted a carton of milk, you had to drive to the nearest convenience store. If you wanted to go for a walk, you had to drive to some place where that was possible.


"This is insane," she said.


I introduced her to the drive-in window at McDonald's (this was 20 years ago, before they were here). We used the drive-in window at the bank. I took her to a drive-in movie theater (which she liked a lot) and showed her the local church that was now offering drive-in prayer services.


"I'm going to throw up if we don't stop this car soon," she said to me more than once.


"Is it the actual driving that's bothering you," I asked her, "or just the concept of always being in the car?"


"I think it's all those cheeseburgers," she said.


Americans think nothing of packing the family into their car and driving across the country on a vacation. The distance between the east and west coasts of the U.S. – say, from New York City to Los Angeles – is about 4,000 kilometers. As a comparison, that's roughly the distance from Prague to Astana, Kazakhstan. Sounds like fun, right?


My wife was not in the mood, however. I did manage to talk her into making a trip by car to Washington, D.C., about a six-hour drive from where my family lives. It's a beautiful city, where almost all the famous structures are white – the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and, of course, the White House.


"Why do they call it 'the White House'?" my wife asked. "It seems silly in a city where all the buildings are white. They could just call it 'the House.'"


"It's a pity you weren't here when they named it," I told her.


"Americans would not listen to some Czech person's opinion," she said.


"Are you going to throw up again?" I asked.


"I am if you don't stop talking so loudly," she said. "Why do American people always speak so loudly? You can hear their conversations from 30 meters away. Do you want other people to overhear you? Or are you all a little deaf?"


"We're used to trying to talk to each other when the television is on," I explained.


"I think it's because you all think you're on television," she said. "Everybody here talks like they're making a public announcement. 'I HAD A GREAT LUNCH TODAY!' Okay. Good for you. Calm down. Every time I hear an American yelling, I have the fear that someone must have been shot, but it's just someone saying, 'I SAW THE NEW 'BATMAN' MOVIE LAST NIGHT!'"


"Do you want to go see the new 'Batman' movie?" I asked.


"Can we see it while eating cheeseburgers at the drive-in?" she replied.


"I believe that's possible," I said.


"Okay," she said.


In the end, my wife said there were many things she liked about America, most of which were things to eat – coffee cake, English muffins, Reuben sandwiches*, fried onion rings, pecan pie. She said she had also started to like the way Americans are always friendly and smiling.


"At first, I thought it was weird," she said. "Now, I still think that it's weird, but in a nice way."


"Wasn't I that same way when you met me?" I asked. "Friendly and smiling?"


"Yes," she said. "But I thought you were just one weird person. I didn't think there could be a whole country of people like you."


"So, why did you marry me, if you thought I was weird?"


"Because I was very young."


"And very smart," I said.


She smiled. "Czech people are very smart," she said.


"And is there anything about America that you don't like?" I asked her. "I mean, besides all the driving and how loudly we talk?"


"Just that it isn't Prague," she answered.


I knew what she meant. I felt exactly the same way.


* Reuben sandwich recipe: Place sliced corned beef, sauerkraut and a slice of Swiss cheese between two slices of rye bread. Butter top and bottom of sandwich and grill on both sides until cheese melts. Serve with a sour pickle and potato salad.

Klíčová slova: rxrx, stevefisher

Diskuse ke článku


Kurzy měn
Nejčtenější komentáře