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Sixty Nine Cents, By Gary Shteyngart Essay

1073 words - 4 pages

The author Gary Shteyngart of “Sixty-Nine Cent” describes himself in a tug of war between the Russian culture of his parents and the American culture in which he wants to be a part of. At the age of seven, Gary Shteyngart and his family immigrated to the United States from Russia. When he was fourteen, his family and other Russian immigrant made a trip to Florida to see Disneyland. He describes “the ride over the MacArthur Causeway to Miami Beach was my real naturalization ceremony”( Shteyngart 103). At that age, he wanted to be like every American born boy, He wanted to eat at McDonald’s, walk the beaches, and speak to the girls, and to enjoy what every boy his age takes for granted. One of his desires was to eat a McDonald’s sixty-nine cent hamburger and drink a Coke. On the way back from Disneyland, he found out this was not going to happen. His parents were given a picnic lunch, packed by the woman who owned the motel, for them to eat instead of spending money at MacDonald’s. As his parents were sitting out “sort boiled eggs wrapped in tinfoil; vinaigrette, the Russian beet salad, overflowing a reused container of sour cream; cold chicken served between crisp white furrows of bulk, (Shteyngart 104)” Shteyngart could not believe that they were doing this to him. Here they were at McDonald’s and he was not going to get a sixty-nine-cent hamburger with a Coke.
As a boy, Shteyngart was torn between the Russian culture and the American culture and sometimes it was hard to understand what he wanted and what he was taught. Growing up in a multicultural family, I can understand how Shteyngart must have felt. My great-grandmother’s father was the grandson of Jacob Hostettler, who was one of the founders of the Amish Community at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My great-grandmother kept many of the customs that were traditions in her family. One such tradition is not socializing with neighbors but only talking to her sisters or other family members. Both of my great-grandparents came from a large family and so the Sunday was always considered family day. It was nothing to see a yard off of kids playing or see the men playing a game of horseshoes as the women would set out the dinner. However, it was the winter time that holds the most memories for my mother. It was then that the families would all gather at the family pond and go ice skating and the men would build a big fire and everyone would stand around and drink hot chocolate. One such tradition in the winter time was right after the first snow fall of the season. We would take a big mixing bowl and go out and fill that bowl as full as we could. Then she would go in and make a big bowl of snow ice cream (Food in Every County). One bright sunny day, our family was going to Lake Pomme De Terre for a family picnic. Like Shteyngart, I was all set for some grilled hamburgers or hot dogs or even some fried chicken. However, that was not meant to be. Like Shteyngart, is aw food being...

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