People all over the world know a lot about America because products like Coca Cola and Malboro cigarettes have introduced the world to Americans and American tastes.
I liked Elvis, The Platters, poodle skirts and rock-n-roll. I knew about hamburgers and drive-ins where teenagers hung out. I had studied English at my high school and earned A+ on every test. I knew enough vocabulary to offer my opinion on everything. I loved everything American.
"How did you like the trip?" my Uncle asked after I landed in Los Angeles. I had slept most of the time, and had no opinion. He was smiling and nodding in a self-congratulatory way when he spoke to me in English. I smiled back and responded in Italian that it was very long. "No! You are in America now and must speak only English." I nodded again, and within minutes, I knew that I had underestimated the whole language thing. I didn't understand, though I did sense the enormous difficulties I would encounter.
That night, I dreamt I was deaf and dumb.