Continue from here The Story of Me – Beginning
We got in a car and were driving from Western Ukraine of my home town Ternopil (look it up) to Warsaw. Then we were getting on a plane to New York. Why our travel arrangements were so elaborate perplexes me to this day. But that is how it happened. The drive was uneventful. What is worth telling is my first brutal introduction to the civilized society we were about to join. Our driver was an unfamiliar man who made a business out of driving people to Warsaw who were flying to America. Apparently there existed an active stream of such. Probably, somebody at one point decided this was the best idea ever, and was really good at promoting best ideas ever, and it just went viral. Don’t ask me.
So, the driver man was no stranger to the situation, and frequented Poland on many occasions. Poland at the time, and probably still is, was a very much European country. Which cannot be stated for Ukraine that, at the time, was still balancing between post-communism syndrome and what-is-this-new-capitalism thing. Poland felt different to us, a European country with shiny things to buy, proper etiquette, and all. Driver man having been introduced to civilized ideas was spreading them in his home, and spreading them in the car for us. Turned out his kids eat with a knife and fork every meal of the day. I for once never had ever in my life been introduced to what seemed then an unnecessary and ambiguous activity. I mean the knife part. We just ate with the fork. You know, like normal people. It got me nervous. I finally realized this was not all fun and games and I might not be prepared for the promised land (meaning US, not Israel).
My horror continued, as we stopped to eat at some luncheonnettee (the more letters in a name, the fancier). And there was a table set with a knife and fork. I began perspiring. But then I came up with a brilliant plan to mirror my sister in everything she does. I was going to ride it out on her life experience, which was 6 years senior to mine. No, my dear friends, this is not a happy-ending story. She ordered a chicken schnitzel, which for you non-foody people, is a piece of meat that requires the exact use of knife and fork combination. There I was with the tools of etiquette torture in my hands, poking at my food, turning bright red under the smirking glance of the driving man. Later I retired to my room, vowed to forget this ever happened (that worked out just fine, obviously), and become a hippie eating with my hands type of person.
P.S. I’m all better now, moving on one day at a time.