Sunday, January 25, 2004

life of buddy don, chaptur 101:
wakin up frum that strange amurkin dream

ifn ye ever smoked much of theevil weed n then quit, then ye probly noticed whut i eggsperientsed whenever me n emily moved over to frankfurt am main, west germany. las thang i wonted wuz sum kinda midnight eggspress add ventchur, so i dint even see could ye git inny over thar. turnt out ye could, but i still dint wonta risk it. point is, that meant i quit cold turkey the day i gut on the airplane to fly over. n that meant i started dreamin lack crazy.

dreams kin be torcherus thangs n mine wuz no differnt. i member one that had darlene in it whar virgil n i snuck into the plant out at carbide whar she wuz a'wurkin n i went into her offus n twuz lack she wuz eggpecktin me n nex thang ye know we wuz a'lyin in a big grassy field watchin the clouds. she wuz talkin bout how nice it felt bein thar with me n i wuz a'thankin how twood hurt her whenever i tole her bout me n emily bein marrd n how i wonted her to feel that hurt, but no matter how i tride, i jes couldnt find the wurds to brake into whut she wuz a'sayin. twuz as if i dint know the langwage. i woke up befor i could say innythang n i felt such frustrayshun at not bein able to say nuthin that i jumped n that woke emily.

as i walked to skool, i couldnt hep but wunder why yer subconshus or whutever tiz that makes ye dream, why wood it do ye thataway? i dint wont nuthin to do with darlene n dint wonta git no kinda revenge, so why wood i dream lack that n wake up frustrated that i couldnt say hurtful wurds? seemed lack quite a mystry. twuz the furst mundy in november that i had that dream n i member that on a counta whut happend later in the day at that dialectickull materialisum class.

as ye mite magine, whenever i gut started in skool over thar, they had set up sum activities fer the forn students whar they wood throw us all into a hat, so to speak, n see did we make friens. one of the furst thangs they dun wuz have this dinner fer us, with twuz at lunch time, n i met two fellas frum yugoslavia thar, one of em name of branimir n tuthern name of radmilo, witch thang bout them two is how they wuz frum the same cuntry, but they wuz as contrary as could be. branimir wuz frum the town of zagreb, witch he sed that made him a croat, witch ye say thatn 'crow-ott.' he wore blue jeans n boots n a leather jacket n he smoked marlboros. radmilo wore sum kinda uniform all the time n he wuz as strate as a bidy could git.

we had bofem over to eat on differnt occayshuns. radmilo wuz furst n pore thang, ye never met a stiffer fella. ever wurd wuz spoke keerful. he couldnt talk no english n he wuznt verr good at german, but ye kin always communicate ifn ye try. so we tempted to talk bout various thangs, but wuznt nuthin we had in common, not a book nor a movie nor music nor nuthin. he jes couldnt talk bout certain subjecks tho ye could see how he wuz curious, speshly bout the beatles, but when he sed he dint know nuthin bout em n dint need to know, whut could we say? thang wuz, after we had et n drunk us a lil beer, he gut relaxed jes a wee dab to whar ye could see he mite could turn into sumbidy innerestin. he wuz acktin so tuff n brave, but he jes wuznt. he wuz young n timid n scaird to deth of thangs. n he hated us fer noticin.

thangs wuz way differnt with branimir. he wuz a novelist n he splained how in his cuntry thangs wuznt lack folks thought. fer one thang, everbidy ackted lack they wuz a nayshun name of yugoslavia but twernt a nayshun a tall but a random divishun of a few nayshuns. n he splained how yugoslavias central gummint mite seem lack it had everthang under cuntrol, but jes beneath the surfus, he sed, thangs wuz happenin. corse we dint know much bout whut wuz a'goin on thar n whenever we add mitted it fer the furst time, branimir laffed n splained how murkins cum over to europe n ack lack wuznt nuthin goin on till they gut thar. n ever amurkin he had ever met had lived life lack twuz sum kinda dream about thar ownself.

that wuz the furst time we hurd sumbidy talk strate out bout us as dumb amurkins n we shoulda been reddy fer it, but we wuznt n it stung. but ye couldnt stay mad at branimir. he wuz a educayshun in how to live.

fer instunts, he splained how he had writ severul novels when he wuz a lil yunger n whenever he tried to git one of the later ones published, he had to send it off to the censors to read. he sed they wuz a big offishul name fer them censors, sumthin lack department of state information security department or sum such but twernt wurth puttin into his mouth since they wuznt nuthin but censors. they sent the book back n woodnt let him publish it. he splained how sum of his earlier novels had dun made it past the censors on a counta he had used irony n them censors wuz all blind toot, but by the time he had his new book, they had herd bout irony n rejeckted it jes in case they wuz inny in it. so branimir tuck out sum ads in the newspapers announcin his own funeral. he knew the jurnalism biz in a cynicull way so he had made up a lil press release splainin whut a loss twuz to the nayshun not to have this promissing yung novelis with em innymore. shore a nuff, the story grew legs n gut tuck up in a wire in the west n nex thang ye know, twuz a topick in the nayshunal press of yugoslavia. n thats when he called a jurnalist to protest bout how he wuznt ded a tall n that he could proov it. corse, twuz a huge sensayshun till it give im a chants to mentchun how he had writ a new novel. them censors couldnt do nuthin but let it git by too.

me n emily went with branimir to see bertholt brechts play name of die drei groschen oper one time, witch thats 'the three penny opry' in english. durin the innermishun thay wuz sum of em communist protesters n they gut up on the stage in tuck thar places in the jail cells on a counta twuz a scene with jail cells in it. then they gut to carryin on bout west germany bein a morderstadt or sumthin lack that. branimir wuz disgusted n he stood up n started yellin back at the students. he tole em how in his land dint nobidy have the freedum to protest nuthin n here they did n they oughta be thankful. one of em hollerd out whut wuz his land n he said he wuz frum croatia n pounded his fist into the air. then he sat down agin n turnt to me n emily n sed, cockin his head at the stage, 'babies.' then he splained how them babies wuz a'gonna be the verr thang they wuz claimin they hate whenever they grew up.

branimir splained how radmilo wuz really frum a differnt cuntry furm his. radmilo wuz frum belgrade, witch thats in a place name of serbia on a counta tiz full of serbs. as fer branimir, he wuz a croat frum croatia, witch he splained how sumday whenever the soviet union fell, his cuntry wood git independents frum so called yugoslavia n then he woodnt be in the same cuntry as radmilo. ye could tell he dint thank much of the serbs n he figgerd radmilo wuz a purrfeck eggzample of whut wuz wrong with em on a counta had we ever seen such a conformist? he claimed they dint have no courage n that made em weak n cruel.

hearin branimir talk bout the worl wuz jes part of the educayshun we wuz a'gittin in how folks sees thangs. we gut to here a lot more bout whut folks wuz thankin bout amurka. one time i wuz on the way over to one of them dinners n i run into this fella frum greece, witch i cant member ifn i ever gut to know him by name. we talked a lil on the walk over, long a nuff fer him to ast wuz i frum amurka n soons i add mitted it, he switched to talkin english, witch twuz one of the thangs folks dun fer two reasons: (1) they dont thank the average amurkin is smart a nuff to really larn sumbidy elses lingo n (2) they wonta practiss thar english. innywho, furst thang he sed wuz, 'you come from baby country.' i wuz a lil sprized, speshly how it stung me fer sum reason, so ast whut he meant n he splained how we wuznt but a lil over 200 years old. he sed how amurkins all thank theys so powerful n all, but tiz early in thar histry. he gut onto the topick of greece n how twuz 2,500 years old n had been the world empire at one time, but they had outgrown thar need fer imperialism.

i mite wooda wonted to talk to him bout greek cultchur, but he dint seem to wonta been seen with no amurkin, so i kep my distunts after that. i did end up at a table of folk that included him fer lunch that day, n he gut em speakin english rite away by pointin out how i wuznt able to do much else on a counta bein amurkin, but i tole em in german how i could speak german jes fine. twernt the case, but i dint wonta add mitt it, n thang wuz, dint nobidy give me a chants. they all wonted to practiss thar english, so thats whut we dun.

we gut to talkin bout the world situwayshun, mainly the cold war of corse, n it seemed lack frum the way they wuz carryin on, they figgerd the united states wuz the big danger in the world. finely i ast em wuz that whut they wuz trine to say? they looked at me lack i wuz crazy or jes nigh-eve. corse amurkas the big evil power, they sed, lack twuz a matter of fack that ye could look up in the encyclopeedia. so i ast whut about the soviet union, n they all sed how thar trine hard to be number one but they jes aint rich a nuff. twuz such a shock i shut up n listend n dint say a nuther wurd. 

but seems lack they wuz talkin at me, trine to cunvints me of sumthin, n twuz all bout the middle east, witch they gut to splainin how twuz the real problem in the worl. they kep at it till twuz lack i wuz back with darlene n daddy playin risk, ceptn they kep sayin that till amurka played fair with bof sides -- n they wuz all lookin at me lack i wuz amurka its ownself -- till we amurkins treated the palestinians same as the israelis, then thar woodnt be no peace. thay wuz a fella frum iran thar n a nuther frum saudi arabia n the greek n all three of em wuz jes shore the only real problem in the worl wus the middle east. the greek splained how twuznt long till thar woodnt be no soviet union nor no east block, but even after that, thay wood still be the middle east n twood be a problem long as amurka kep armin the israelis.

thang wuz, i had herd my daddy say the same thang bout the middle east. he sed relijun wuz a hole lot deeper n irrashunul than eke onomicks, so i dint try to change thar pinions n twoodnta matter ifn i had tride. nobidy changes thar mind in a argumint lack that, so i jes listend n the two thangs that wuz scary wuz (1) how thay dint hardly any two of em disagree the least whit n (2) how it made me so mad n how i wished we wuz on the rite side of thangs n how i wished i knew a nuff to defend our posishun, witch i dint know a nuff about to know wuz we on the rite side or not.

i gut to thanking bout the time with that fella name of 'said' at that party in knoxvull. everthang he had sed wuz jes assumed to be true by ever person at that table -- ceptn me. whar wuz they gittin thar informayshun? why wuz it that bof folks frum behin the iron curtain n folks frum the west agreed on everthang -- ceptn me.

innywho, ye kin see how bein in europe makes ye wonta know more bout whuts a'goin on in the worl, only ye jes cant keep up with everthang. purty soon, ye fine yerself lack i wuz that mundy in november, walkin to skool thankin bout a dream that dint mean nuthin, wunderin why my subconshus duz such a thang to me. twuz late in the day, after we waited out the mail man who dint git thar till near 9:30 sted of rite at 9:00 lack he dun mos times n had dun had sum knödel suppe n bred n cheese fer lunch n i had dun walked with emily to the post offus with a lil trip to the antiquariat on the way n i had dun kissed her goodbye at the corner of ginheimer n leipziger.

i gut to the bildin whar the class wuz held a lil early n went to stand out in the hall. i reckon ye mite could say i looked lack a hippy. my hair wuz down past my shoulders n my beard down to my breast bone n i wore blue jeans n boots n a ole cordaroy coat, so i reckon to them students i found standin out in the hall, i looked lack mayhap i mite even be a communist my ownself on a counta they wuz dressed purty much lack i wuz n ever one that could grow a beard had em one. they wuz as eggcited as i had ever seen em n soons they saw me cummin, they hedded my way.

one of em wuz carryin a lil paper name of die rote stern, witch that means the red star in english. twuz a cheap lookin paper lack ye mite speck frum yer nashnul enquirer but whut gut me wuz the hedline. i had to read it a cuple of times n then read the furst paragraph to make shore i wuz gittin it. twuz sumthin that had happend jes the day befor in iran. i dint know sum of the main wurds: Geisel, Botschaft, entführen, but i could unnerstand Diplomat jes fine. i looked up tutherns while they all waited, eggcited to see how i wood reack once i figgerd out whut had happend n purty soon i had it that the embassy in tehran had been attacked n the diplomatick staff tuck hostage.

i ast wuz that it n they all started cheerin n sed twuz it all rite n twuz the beginnin of the revolushun fer shore, the beginnin of the fall of amurka. they give me that thar newspaper n tole me i could have it n patted me on the back n ast me dint i thank twuz a wonderful thang? now ye mite wood thank they wood switch to english, but these wuz all them communists n they dint wonta study english. they wuz studyin russian or polish or other slavick langwages, so they kep chatterin away in german.

now ifn ye ever dun larned ye a forn langwage, then ye know how ye git to whar ye kin unnerstand whut folks is sayin long befor ye kin anser em back n twuz so then. i could unnerstand everthang they wuz a'sayin to me as they all stood in a circull round me: wernt it true we had 20% inflashun in armurka? n wuznt it so that couldnt no engineering graduwaits git jobs? dint we have racshul strife? dint folks in amurka tell polack n nigger jokes? n dint we have a histry of lynchin? n dint we all drive gas guzzlin cars n pollute the earth? wuznt we the ones that had that three mile island acksident? n wuznt i happy that the revolushun wuz started n we wuz a'gone be liberated frum the capitalist system? n wuznt it just n good how the mouse of iran had dun tripped the lion of amurka to git it all started? n they cheerd the iranian students.

i wonted so bad to tell em i wuznt happy, that twuz a awful thang that had happend, that my cuntry wuz not about to fall n that thar hole communist bleef system wuz bankrupt n yew name it, but i couldnt git a sangle sentents out.

finely i turnt n tuck off but they follerd n one of em ast me ifn twuz a shock to wake up frum the amurkin dream n fer sum reason that made me thank of that dream i had dun had the nite befor n how i couldnt say nuthin in it neethur. twuz the same feelin.

i dint go back to that class agin. i started goin to the histry of the novel class with emily, witch they wuz readin tobias smollet n i hadnt even known who he wuz till then. n i gut to readin a lil bout the worl n the middle east, a'trine to git a lil more educayted. n i rote n rote n rote, a trine to git sumthin started that wuz 'engagiert,' as the students wood say. twuz painful trine to wake up frum that strange amurkin dream whar we could bleeve we wuznt even part of the rest of the worl.

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