|HOME | US EDITION | HUMOR|
December 16, 1999
'Staying Home For The Holidays'
A few days before I celebrated my first Christmas in this country, I got a memo from the International Students Office at the university.
We were advised to avoid discussions of religion and politics at holiday dinners unless our hosts requested our views on these subjects.
The advice was useless. We were four international students in one apartment and none of us received any invitations.
Late that evening, the lights came on in the store at the corner run by a Lebanese. The four of us trudged through the snow and bought several six packs of beer. We got drunk while watching on our beat-up TV the film, It's A Wonderful Life.
Nevertheless, after a decade of Christmases, many things have changed for us.
Two years ago, I almost broke up a relationship on Christmas. My girlfriend had forgotten to call me that day and I felt bereft.
"You're a Hindu, for crying out loud," she protested at my complaints. She couldn't understand that this holiday could mean anything to an immigrant.
"How could it not," I argued, "after I had bought stamps just the day before from a man dressed like Santa in the post-office?" That relationship didn't last, alas. But one of my closest friends, also from India, has an American girlfriend. And, this year he has a Christmas invitation. In a few days he is going to be a guest at his girlfriend's family-home in Tennessee.
My friend told me that he has been busy visiting web sites that provide football jokes. He is committing them to memory. He plans to share these jokes at the dinner table.
Of course, my friend has never played American football in his life. Neither have I. We know even less about football than we do about Christmas. But I haven't opposed my friend's plan. At least, he is staying away from religion and politics, as the memo from 10 years ago had advised us. I would have been worried if he were scoring hits on web sites like jesuschrist.com or memorizing Al Gore jokes.
What I really like, though, are jokes that are seemingly about other people who also know very little about sports. Like the one about the entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. When asked on a golf course what his handicap was, he replied to the effect that he was a Jewish African-American with only one eye. "What's yours?"
Amitava Kumar is the author of 'Passport Photos', forthcoming from the University of California Press.
SINGLES | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | MONEY
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK