What happens sometimes is that – when you’re living in a foreign country, a country where you’re almost one of a kind – people want to pair you up with other stray members of your species. There’s another American who lives three towns over, they say. I’ll invite him over. You can chest bump about McDonald’s taking over the world. They think you must be lonely, that the call of your mother tongue will be music to your own ears; that being members of the same clade, you’ll be thrilled to sniff each other’s scent. I’m sure in some cases this is true; certainly, when Obama was elected, I itched for other Americans and every once in a while, I long for someone to back me up on the amazeballs virtues of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. When I was a new expat I needed other people like me. But I’ve been gone from home for a long time now. A strange thing happens when you’ve been gone a long time. If you’re like me, you become cat-like. That is to say, you don’t always like seeing other cats.
Now, look. I am a cat. I love being a cat. But the thing is that, even though cats are beautiful and weird and sleek and silly, sometimes cats scratch. And they crap where they’re not supposed to. And they throw up on your rug. And they talk really, really, really loud. In short, for all the great cats (like me and like you) out there, there are other cats that give cats a bad name. Especially when they’re out of their natural habitat; they get all wild and crazy, biting people’s ankles, running around in circles, shouting But honey why don’t this restaurant have Supersize?
It’s not their fault. That’s how they’re wired. But I don’t like it if other people associate me with random pee-spraying, thank you very much. Especially when I’ve worked so hard to remember that pee goes in the litter box.
So when Flora tells me: You, Mona, and Katarina come to my house Sunday night; my mom’s making a big dinner for my bosses and one of our favorite clients at the hotel. He’s from New York, like you the hair on my back lifts and rustles; hissssss. But then Flora says: He’s been living in Italy on and off since 1975. His name is Ted. And then it becomes a whole other jungle struggle; who’s the fitter feline? Because this happens, too, when you’ve been out of your habitat for a long time. You work hard to fit in. You get proud of yourself. And if you come across another of your species who’s on par with your level of fitness then, well, it becomes who’s assimilated better? Whose language skills are better? Who makes cats look better as a whole? ME. I do. I know I do. Hissssss. Fffft. Fffffft. So, okay, then – bring it on. USA vs USA.
Are you, homeslice?