American English

One in a series of essays about being American.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The woman in the black and white hijab like costume told my parents that we all are in America now and in America we speak English not the Kings English but the American English because while we are descended from England (well, some people are) because they founded this country (not really) and they built this country (definitely not really) we must therefore speak English (not really) not the King’s English because we fought a revolution against the King of England that’s why we don’t speak the King’s English but the American English that we speak everywhere otherwise how will Spanish-speaking (that’s another poem) people understand their orders to clean the bathrooms or push racks of clothing down seventh avenue or cook in their restaurant kitchens or wash their dishes or take care of their lawns or their children or whatever it is that we do when they’re not looking while some of us speak that non-American lingo hoping they don’t hear us because we know what they will do when they hear that non-American lingo and start screaming like banshees that they can’t stand to hear our mumbo jumbo como esta usted foreign lingo that came from our brown and black mouths and yes there are some white people on those same islands and countries that were raped and conquered by those European Spanish people from the Europe side of the world where the King of England lives near but doesn’t speak that foreign lingo that they say they can’t or won’t understand and refuse to acknowledge it but meanwhile they live in cities and neighborhoods with Spanish names and eat at those restaurants with Spanish names that they swear ain’t the same because that’s hip and cool and they tell me they love them some carnitas and burritos and arroz and beans and tacos and Cuban sandwiches but hate that we speak that foreign lingo in their presence puncturing their sense of identity as an American speaking you know American English because we might be talking about them and it is important that they always understand what is being spoken around them except for their hundred year old polish grandfather or eighty year old Italian cousin who came to visit and has no idea what the fuck they’re saying and the nice German girl they met while on vacation in Berlin at the Octoberfest festival the one they wanted to show her their sausage sandwich because hell who needs lingo when everyone can use hand signals and pictures to show what they mean but they still complain that everyone should know how to speak American English even the people who speak the King’s English even the damn people who come from China and Africa and the Middle East and they wonder in American English why won’t those people stop talking that foreign lingo shit because they’re convinced that they must be talking about them otherwise why wouldn’t they talk like every other red-blooded American with no accents and using simple words that they can understand without looking them up on google insisting that one or at the most two syllable words only in American English is sufficient (there you go using a big word) for them to understand while some of us dream that we could knew more the one or two syllable American English words like French words and yes Spanish words and Japanese words and Arabic words and even German and Italian words so we can communicate with as many people in the world and learn to share and learn their lives and maybe learn a thing or two that all of have in common and those things we don’t have in common and not worry about whether they’re talking shit about us but yeah it would be cool to learn a couple of curse words in French (connard) and Italian (figlio di puttana) and German (Mutterfucker) and Japanese (マザーファッカー) and Chinese (混蛋)and Spanish (hijo de puta) and wouldn’t that be cool so that the next time some fool tells all of us that we can’t speak anything but the American English (what exactly is that again) we could riff off some of these words and impress them because they wouldn’t know if I was talking about them or their mother and father or the close-minded mind that thinks all people in this country speak exactly the same without any accents because there are words that only they in their part of the country knows those words and an accent in New England is going to sound different than one in Alabama so really they need to get their asses out of their heads and learn a thing or two that might make them uncomfortable because they don’t know it yet but it might help them with that German woman or Italian man or how to order in an ethnic restaurant unless they’re going to stay in their neighborhood in their block in their house all their life damning anything and anyone outside their comfort zone learning nothing seeing nothing doing nothing being nothing all because they refuse to learn something because they think they already know everything there is to know and it is only spoken in American (tell me again what that is) English demonstrating once again how small how narrow how dumb a life that must be and that they really are so proud of it even if it makes them smaller than a grain of sand a speck of dirt that is so insignificant (no big words please) that there is no hope for them and that is sad for them and this country and all of our futures.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Author: Antonio Pedro Ruiz

Antonio Ruiz is an ex-junkie-alcoholic, former seminarian, one-time radio host-producer, past community organizer, continuing to be a media advocate, retired television reporter, ex-commission executive director, once a street vendor of jewelry and gloves, waitron (waiter to you), a former bartender who drank too much on the job, an ex-motorcycle courier who learned to ride a bike just for the job, ex-airport shuttle driver, former Entertainment news director-producer, the best time of my life, one-time live TV events red carpet producer-executive producer, ex-small business consultant, ex-youth media and journalism mentor, and now a college student who also has been married three times (thirds the charm), and just couldn't help living with two other women because well, that's part of my story.

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