This American Life

It is a little known fact that I was abducted as an infant. My kidnappers, part of the underground baby trade, came for me in the middle of the darkest night and spirited me away from my privileged, wealthy family living in a small European country. The road was long and twisted that led me to a loving, but inadequate middle class family in North Carolina. I might never have been the wiser were it not for the tell-tale signs that whispered of a life that was meant for riches.

Indeed, my voice twangs of North Carolina, but my heart sings for the land of my birth. Cellular memory does not forget, for the blood of noblemen courses through my veins. Some may call it false memories, but I prefer faux-souvenirs. Do you see? Even my words betray an adopted life of barbecue, big hair, Hee-Haw and smell my finger jokes.

As a child, my brothers were content to play in our dirt yard chained to their posts, but I dreamt of a life less pedestrian.

“Would you say that I’m a winter or more of a summer?” I would ask the neighborhood girls while trying out concealers to cover my E-Z Bake oven light bulb burns. Choosing the right shade was important, as was baking tasty cakes to go with our afternoon tea. It was a clear signal of my genteel DNA. That is when the doubts of my origins began. Did I see the concern in my poor adoptive mother’s face as well?

Once the seed of doubt was planted, it sprouted and began to curl, a vine of twisted truth in my mind; its tendrils pointing to the clues all around me. Like the way my oldest “brother” would pick out tunes on his hill-billy guitar, “turkey in the straw” and “stairway to heaven” shouting “How you like them apples?” My younger siblings would respond with raucous laughter and farts. Turning up my nose at the vulgarity I played the classics on my piano, “School bus stop” and “Hot Cross Buns”. I would play like the regal young lord that I was over and over again with the hopes that real music would soothe the savage beasts. To my horror, my music books were defaced with graffiti: ‘Shut up!’ and ‘You suck!’.

Life among the commoners as a child was difficult.

But I accepted it and buried the doubts deep into my sub-conscious, because that is what all healthy well-bred people do. Until one month ago, when Paul and I attended the Boston car show. It seems such an unlikely event to stir up the past. But we can only push down thoughts for so long before they bubble back up to the surface.

On the way to the car show Paul asked me what type of car I might like.

“A light blue one with leather heated seats.”

For a moment, Paul stared at my forehead as if there might be more of an answer written into the wrinkles.

“Is there any particular make or model?”

“A pretty one.” I replied hoping that might be enough. Apparently it was not.

He began to recite a long list of V-6, Turbo Diesel, blah-blah, boring stuff, I really should check my e-mail, options. I retreated to the happy place in my head, nodding politely when there was a lull. When we arrived at the car show we looked at Volkswagens and Toyotas, Kias and Hondas; common folk cars.

And then my long suppressed memories of gentility came crashing to the surface. There among the riff-raff cars were Mercedes, Bentley and Ferrari. Oh, ma mère et mon père, how could I have forgotten you? Forgive your poor humble, long lost son.

As I sat in the back of the Mercedes S600 Sedan tears of longing and remembrance streaked down my face. Yes, this is how life was meant to be. The smell of top grain leather, the sheen of real burl walnut trim, the view of the lesser world as it slips quietly by a well-tuned Bavarian engineered vehicle.

“OK, let’s go look at the Passat again.” Paul said, and just like that the vision faded.

But now I can no longer bury the memories of summer homes and country estates, of Chateaus and limousines, of my birth right, so horribly ripped from my fingers all those many years ago and replaced with polyester, grits and “Hey y’all, watch this” shenanigans. If by some small chance, my poor old wealthy, heartbroken parents happen to be cruising the Internet while on their private jet and read this, I implore you come back for me. You have a son, a son-in-law and grandchildren.

You will find me in Boston, in a Passat; a light blue one, with leather, ok, pleather seats.

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