Living here on a territory distant from the shores of the United States, I am often asked where I am from. A person typically wants to know my birthplace (state) and in which state I lived prior to moving here.
I cannot tell them the truth, as I will be barraged with questions about my parents and their parents as well as how my parents came to meet, among other things. Suffice it to say that my mother was an escaped communist and a renounced Catholic. My father, he was lucky, I guess. Not like that! He was lucky that she married him.
Over time, I have come up with a short explanation that ensures that there are no follow-on questions or even a statement of incredulity. Indeed, if I keep injecting humor, they soon forget to ask any questions as they have to endure my insane way of telling my story. Parts of it are true, but I’ll never tell.
In the interest of brevity, and keeping my hands from getting tired on this keyboard, I’ll just paraphrase:
I was born in the state of Denial, ’cause that’s where my mother was. She kept insisting, even under morphine, that she wasn’t possibly pregnant and that the swelling of her tummy was due to swallowing a watermelon seed six months prior.
If they press me about this mysterious state, I inform them it’s somewhere between Virginia and California, and an unspecified number of miles north of Texas.
Once, someone asked me if I was named after anyone. I don’t know where he got that idea, but I had a ready answer:
My mother named me after the MD who delivered me. But she didn’t like the sound so she Anglicized it. Also, she chose George as my second given name. Calling her son Juan Valdez just wasn’t her cup of tea, er, coffee. You know, I don’t think he ever drank coffee, let alone pick the beans.
Years later, I realized the good doctor had the last laugh, the name on my birth certificate reads: Juan Rockwood Eismann.
That’s my story. And I’m sticking to it!