An American boy from a middle-class family met a poor boy from Zimbabwe at, let’s say, the transcontinental bus station. The American boy’s car that his parents bought him with the automatic transmission was in the shop getting some rims installed. Hence the bus. The poor Zimbabwean had just come from visiting his Uncle Zuka, who had a fruit stand on a particular continent. The poor Zimbabwean had no car and few other possessions, so he was taking the bus as well.

Due to unforeseen circumstances involving the bus’s flotation device, it was eventually reported to be making its way to the station dreadfully late. In the meantime, the American and Zimbabwean boys had struck up a conversation. The American, not realizing at first where the Zimbabwean was from, asked.

“I am from Zimbabwe,” answered the Zimbabwean. “And you are from America. Only Americans wear the baseball cap backwards.” Though this was an untrue stereotype, the Zimbabwean was right that the boy was American.

“Heh,” the American laughed, embarrassed to have his fashion secrets unraveled by a foreigner. “It was a gift.”

“I envy you,” said the Zimbabwean. “I often wish I was born in America. I love the Paula Abdul.”

“Is she. . . uh. . .yeah, she’s great.”

“I wanted to go to school in America but I don’t have the money.”

“Frankly, you’re better off. I envy you, man,” the American said, his envy a newfound source of confidence.

“You envy me? But why?”

“Man, Zimbabwe sounds so cool. I wish I was from a country that’s name started with a Z. There are tons of countries that start with an A.”

The Zimbabawean did not cry, but in that moment he learned disappointment as he had never known it before.

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