becoming ‘merican

… living in America … got to have a celebration …

I moved to the Bay Area in April, 1995, then to Los Angeles in April, 1998. I’ve travelled a bit around the country, seen many things and while I’ve been here for almost ten years now, I don’t consider myself American.

I can apply for American citizenship next year, once I’ve had my green card for five years. You have to take a citizenship test and if you pass, you get a fancy ceremony that you can have your photo taken at, and from there, you’re all official.

I think that they’re missing a couple of pre-requisites, however. It’s my belief that to be considered an American, you must be able to perform two particular life skills that the citizens of this fine land have mastered. Ideally, they would become instinctual, or else you might find yourself being looked on as an outcast somewhere down the line.

Firstly, you must be able to effectively, and safely, perform a high-five. You must be able to execute this at the appropriate time, typically during a sporting event, and usually in concert with the people sitting near you at the time. Once the basics have been learned, you can, if you desire, reach across a table or bar to give someone a single-handed high-five, but this takes practice and should not be attempted lightly. Apart from the danger of a finger to the eye, a missed high-five is regarded as an indication of weakness and you may be shunned from your group as a result.

While the high-five is a physical skill, there is also a vocal skill that needs to be mastered. The “woooooo!” or “woohoo!” (hereafter, grouped together simply as “woohoo!”) has been refined over two hundred and fifty years, and is probably the single most heard cry in sports-related activity the nation over. For a foreigner to attempt a “woohoo!”, it is best for the subject to be in an inebriated state, as the relaxed condition of the body and mind will make the sound easier to produce. For maximum effect, the “woohoo!” and the high-five can be attempted in unison, but should only be attempted by trained professionals — or American citizens.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever really be able to perform either of these — naturally, or otherwise — so the likelihood of me becoming an American citizen is probably slim. Eating all of the junk food under the sun and having a gun rack in my pickup’s cab probably isn’t enough to push me over the line.

3 Replies to “becoming ‘merican”

  1. Actually, no, it’s not. It’s one of the two bars downstairs at The Lobby in Cork, Ireland. I was sitting on this rickety bench with my camera in hand and thought I’d snap a quick shot, see if I could catch the mood. It came out ok considering how dark and smokey the place was. And with the flash off, and a longer exposure, you get that little bit of movement in the shot.

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