Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why I want to dream America

"So tell me about your family," I said from my position at the head of the circle. (And if you think such a statement is an oxymoron, and that by definition a circle has no head, then you should see the way high schoolers form circles when asked; it's as if adulthood is a contagious disease you might catch from standing too close. And after all, maybe it is).

"I have got two older seesters and a dog named Blue-dee," she said.

"Blue-dee?" I repeated quizzically, trying to figure out what it could possibly mean in French, though it was no word I had ever heard before.

"Blue-dee," she repeated, "Blue-dee. You know, like the song," and she commenced to sing, "Sunday, blue-dee Sunday..."

"Ah," I said. "Er, wow...That's, Let's, uh...who's next?"

This serves as a shining example of how fully the French have embraced anglophone culture right down to its music, an acceptance so whole-hearted it is not even hampered by the fact that they don't understand (and pardon my French) a bloody word of it. Let this serve as a lesson to you: if you ever decide to lend your pet that certain je ne sais quoi by naming it in a foreign language, perhaps think to pick up a dictionary first, lest you, too, inadvertantly name your dog Bloody.

"Ok," I said, moving on to the next student. "Can you tell me something about yourself?"

"Yes," he said. "I want to dream America."

"Excuse me?" I said. "You want to...dream? America?"

"Yes," he repeated. "I want to dream America."

"Did anyone get that?" I asked, looking around. "Because I didn't quite..."

"Yes, I know," his friend said, jumping in to help. "He wants to be like the rappers, you know, like 50 Cent."

"Oh," I said, understanding. "The American Dream..."

So while for some people the American Dream means a home of your own, a good job, a car, and settling down for the night with a Bud Lite in front of your big-screen tv, apparently for others it represents the dream of getting shot multiple times and then making millions of dollars.

And then of course, there are those for whom the American Dream means the opportunity to leave the country of your birth and start a new life somewhere else, in a place where the healthcare is free, the national sense of humor is wry, and you always, always order dessert. Ever since I first explored this country seven years ago I have known that, ironically enough, my American Dream isn't actually American at all.

So what's your American Dream?


  1. Wow... That's a really interesting question. I am going to think this through and then post a response on my blog.

  2. Would you accept getting shot (clearly not fatally) for a few million dollars? I think the answer's an obvious yes

  3. unlike jane i am totally rash! i was going to say "duh- a european boyfriend!" but that really hasnt worked out so hot for me so far... maybe its having a wooden table, with good wine and cheese on top and a comfy bed and lots of trees and a furry dog or two and funny friends/ family near by at all times...and cute clothes and a library of amazing books. i think thats my version of picket fences and 2.6 kids.