It was always a big deal whenever my dad called. I always knew he was on the phone when my mom was on our old rotary phone and the German Shepard next door would start howling in tune to her screaming.
That’s the thing about my family – they would be great stage performers because they sure do know how to make their voices project. In my family, there is only one rule to arguing in Hungarian: The person that speaks the loudest always wins the argument, regardless of being right or wrong.
So, this particular day, I was home from kindergarten and my mom saw me peaking around the corner. She sighed and held out the phone.
“Stephie, talk to your azz-hole fadder.”
I could hear his mumbled voice protesting from the receiver.
I grabbed the phone and struggled to hold it to my ear with both hands. Boy, those old rotary phones sure where solid.
“Hallo?” I asked shyly.
It was still weird to hear such a deep voice, since I had no male influences in my family. I imagined a giant Bela Lugosi on the other line.
He quickly broke into his usual rant,”Don’t listen to your crazy bitch modder. You know, your name wasn’t even supposed to be stupid freakin’ Stephanie.”
He continued, “Me, I vas gonna name you Margitka, proud Magyar name. But she names you some crap outta some American baby-name book and sends you to school tinking you are Romanian. Listen, Stephike – you are not to tell ANYVON dat you are a dirty Romanian, you hear me? You are von-hundred percent Hungarian blood.”
I was speechless.
“And any German you have in you from your Nagymama’s parents you sh*t out in your diapers.”
I twirled the phone cord around my little foot. “But Apu…I thought I was from New Jersey.”
See, that’s the great thing about little kids. They see no distinction between races. Maybe it should stay that way.