To escape embarrassing questions, such as have you seen the latest exhibit at the bumptious museum, my family usually moves continents every few years. The problem is that we never stay long enough in any one place to learn local customs or practice regional idioms. For example, in Australia, I had been looking forward to using the expression crack a fat, but we moved before I had a chance to practice it. I’m sorry I can’t tell you what crack a fat means, but I can tell you that they recommend Crackiagra or Crackialis for it.
In Melbourne, half the time I could not understand what people were telling me. In Nashville, Tennessee, nobody could understand what I was saying. I never heard the word WHAT in Southern drawl so many times. That prompted our move to Miami, where 156% of the population speak with a funny accent like mine, and the other 32% cannot do math.
When I left Argentina in 1976, get this, the internet had not been invented, which meant that I could not easily keep up with gossip in my native country. This pretty much guaranteed cluelessness about all things Argentina, except news about the latest Nazi caught hiding there and the awful performance of the national soccer team. After I left Israel in 1984 for Canada, I had to focus my attention on mastering the English Language and Canadian culture, which meant that I did not keep up with Israeli culture or politics much, although people often expected me to come up with a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Also, people still ask me if I know a person named Moshe in Israel.
We lived 15 years in Canada, which was not enough to understand the logic of curling. We lived in Australia only three years, not nearly enough to get Aussie rules football, which, from what I can tell, is a combination of wrestling with Cirque du Soleil. Coming to the US was very culturally challenging. Football here is played with your hands mostly, and instead of a ball, which, as far as I know is supposed to be round, people play with a giant suppository. No wonder I’m always falling behind and feeling beneath the rest of the world.
Isaac Prilleltensky is an award-winning academic and humor writer. His latest books, The Laughing Guide to Change, and The Laughing Guide to a Better Life, co-authored with Ora Prilleltensky, combine humor with science.