Hokay. Let’s dance.
- Yes, my first name really is the same as my surname. Just like my three firstborn cousins.
- I did not speak to my parents until I was 2. While I was being wheeled in by the nurse to see the doctor about it, I was reading out the room numbers to her.
- I learned English from Sesame Street. Which has left me with a lifelong aspiration to to be Oscar the Grouch.
I’m guessing 1, because I think I read somewhere that your first name is “Nick” and not “Nicholas”, which would technically make them different.
Yes, it’s a technicality. Sorry not sorry. But the birth certificate does say “Nick Nicholas” and not “Nicholas Nicholas” (thank the Gods), and I’m going with that.
#2 and #3 are related, and both are true. My parents were giving me mixed linguistic input, English and Greek—which is not a problem with language acquisition as such, it just means that kids take a few months longer as they disentangle the input. Because of it, I had acquired English just fine, but I wasn’t speaking to my parents who were giving me the confusing input.
I was however fluent in American, from Sesame Street (which child-minded me while my parents worked in the fish & chip shop downstairs); and when I’d worked out the nurses were not giving confusing linguistic input, I felt free to make like Count von Count, and count the room numbers. When my parents came in, I said mama, and that was the first word they heard from me.
In the early 1970s, following a counting session, the Count would laugh maniacally, “AH AH AH AH AH!”, accompanied by thunder and lightning flashes. He wouldn’t let anything interrupt his counting, and used hypnotic powers to temporarily stun people with a wave of his hands. This practice, however, was discontinued in the mid-1970s because of concern that young viewers would become frightened. In the mid-1970s, the Count became friendlier, did not have hypnotic powers, and interacted more with the characters (both live actors and Muppets). His laugh also changed from maniacal laughter to a more triumphant, stereotypical Dracula-style laugh.
He’ll always be maniacal laughter and thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightening me, as far as I’m concerned.
And yet, I put down the Grouch as my role model. I know. It was a close run!
I couldn’t find the Oscar the Grouch and Yitzhak Perlman duet, so I’ll have to settle for this: