Old Country

by Shaindel Beers

"Oh, Pshaw, your father'll get a new job right away - why he's an old melon-baller from way back! It's just silly that university couldn't realize it." Mellon-baller? Who were these people? Her parents always talked about the "Old Country" and used odd sayings and mentioned places and occupations that sounded so ridiculous she had always suspected they had made them up. Now that she was in her thirties, Lily's friends found her parents (aging hippies/gypsies emigrated from Hungary) endearing and begged to come over for dinners and family gatherings, but when the day arrived she'd find herself nearly as embarrassed as she had been in high school - wouldn't they ever be normal?


Shaindel Beers, author of Long Way Home, is a Professor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, and has taught at colleges and universities in Illinois and Florida. This piece was inspired by her boyfriend, Lee, who says the damnedest things sometimes.


Quin said...

wow, i went through that 6s like grant went through richmond. nice read.

Madam Z said...

Oh yes, the chronic embarrassment of first-generation immigrants. This sounds so much like my father talking about his parents, who emigrated from Norway.

Well done!

Jp said...

Ditto on the well done.

I have a friend who's a first-gen Hungarian immigrant. He says odd and embarrasing things in public all the time (part of which can't always be blamed on his heritage...) Still, it's part of his charm, and it wouldn't be the same without that feeling of embarrasment every now and then.

Anonymous said...


You are the best writer I know.