At the recent WorldFest in downtown Louisville, 601 people became U.S. citizens in the largest naturalization ceremony in Kentucky history. If you are one of those brave new Americans, welcome to the tribe! We’re glad you’re here.
By now, you might be feeling some buyer’s remorse. It’s only natural to have second thoughts after making a big decision, but it’s best to examine your misgivings honestly. There’s no sense in sugarcoating America.* And now that you’re an American, you’ll probably want to start acting like one. Here are some important facts about Americans that aren’t included in the owner’s manual.
• Insane. In his novel “Meshugah,” Isaac Bashevis Singer postulated that everyone is crazy. This claim must logically apply to Singer, so he can’t be trusted; but casual observation seems to bear him out, so let’s assume we’re all mad. Popular mental illnesses include paranoia, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, panic, and those twin troublemaking disorders: attention-deficit and obsessive-compulsive, which cause many of us to burn down our houses after becoming distracted by “CSI: Miami” while ironing our dishtowels. To cope with these afflictions, we get:
• Baked. Americans ingest enough pharmaceuticals every day to waste the entire Wu Tang Clan plus Amy Winehouse. There’s not a Walgreens every 20 yards just because of the lucrative Axe Body Spray market. (Fun party game: Listen to the side-effects mentioned on drug ads and guess which ones your friends are on!) And if we’re not copping a Pharmco buzz, we’re trashed on something homemade, which is also conveniently sold roughly every 20 yards. To take the edge off all that crank, we get:
• ’Faced. We love to tease the Russians and their Stoli or the Irish and their Guinness or the French and their absinthe-and-camembert giddyups, but Americans can drink them all under the table. The American Medical Association recently listed “beer pong” as one of the stages of childhood development. We’re so thirsty we’ve assigned the “-aholic” suffix to obsessions that have nothing to do with booze, such as “workaholic,” “wankaholic” and “rageaholic.” That’s important to keep in mind because we’re:
• Packin’ heat. Just because we’re happy to see you doesn’t mean those aren’t guns in our pockets. Also our purses, trunks, sock drawers and glove compartments. Officials estimate there are 200 million to 300 million guns in America, roughly one for every man, woman and child (even those in the beer-pong stage). If you plan to shoot somebody at a four-way stop — say, in Stonybrook — you’d better be quick on the draw! All that firepower makes it easier for us to stay:
• In denial. You’re an American now. Why bother yourself with facts? We call our healthcare system the world’s best, even though it ranks just ahead of Slovenia’s. We’re the “greatest country in history” — never mind the Mayans, the Hopewell or the Maori, none of whom were plagued with cell phones or Applebee’s. One out of every three Americans (including two out of every two U.S. senators from Kentucky) believes 9/11 is related to Iraq. To achieve this level of denial, it helps to be:
• Superstitious. According to a 2005 Harris poll, 61 percent of Americans believe in the devil, 25 percent take astrology literally, and 40 percent believe in ghosts. Tall buildings don’t have 13th floors and magic is widely popular. Some of our favorite magicians include Penn & Teller, Criss Angel and Jesus. Speaking of whom, contrary to what you might have read in our Constitution, we:
• Believe in one god. True, our god goes by many names: cash, moolah, bucks, benjamins and more, but they’re all one god: Money. It’s the yardstick we use to measure our value as human beings and, in the name of the economy, it allows us to justify believing that we are:
• Entitled to anything we want. Just think: If you hadn’t already become an American, you’d have become one eventually when we took over your country! Congrats on getting in on the ground floor. Can we interest you in the extended warranty?
*It’s already been dipped in batter, fried in lard, sprinkled with chocolate, and drizzled with cheese.
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