No, seriously, it really is all about me.
On the list of my daily priorities, being me ranks almost as high as “wear clean socks” and “don’t eat yellow snow.” Almost as high, but not quite. Being me, you might say, is the only option I have. There were times in my life, I must be honest, when I tried to be somebody or something else (a German poodle, once, and a Renaissance oil painting, twice), but it appears that I can’t help being myself. As much as I try to break out of being me (it is a limited and limiting state, being only and always just me; imagine how much I could accomplish if only I could transform myself into, say, a Xerox machine or the iPhone home button), the world around me keeps pounding me back into myself.
I can’t help being me. And I can’t help being Serbian.
Now, being Serbian may not seem like an important condition to you, if you aren’t Serbian yourself. And if you aren’t, then, sorry, brother, I can’t help you with that. I was just born like this. The Serbianness was implanted deep into my genetic structure, so deep in fact the doctors tell me attempting to remove it with any sharp object may result in me not only ceasing to be Serbian, but in me ceasing to be…well, me. In this body, at least.
In a world of “might means right,” I present to you the view from the least mighty part of the world. You already know what the Americans think. You already understand what the Chinese believe in. You already have a pretty fair grasp of Russian history(well, don’t you?). But what, I ask you, do you know about the Serbian? The marginalized, victimized, often misunderstood, all but forgotten Serbian? Anything? No, I didn’t think so. Enter: me! Me, the Serbian made in Serbia (not China, as some may have claimed, mistaking me for the latest tablet computer). And let me tell you, it’s important to know what the little people think because… Well, I don’t know why exactly. Don’t let me do all the work, fill in some of the blanks on your own. Treat this as you would a crossword puzzle.
I can tell you that we are a small people with grand ambitions. One day, who knows, you might find yourself living in a world so Serbianized you’ll be reading these words in Serbian, not English. Belgrade, for all you know, may be the 21st century’s New York. In a decade or two you may suddenly find yourself behind the wheel of a Yugo, stuffing your face with burek, on your way to celebrate a genuine Serbian invention, the krsna slava. Easy on the rakija, please.
Alright, maybe none of that is very likely. Nowadays we are ambitious only when it comes to sports, and I have serious doubts the world can be conquered using only a tennis racket (a canoe paddle, maybe; a racket, not so much). The truth is this. We are the laziest people you could ever hope to meet. We get easily tired of having to work for a living, have the world’s shortest attention span, have never heard of discipline, and never, and I mean never, follow instructions (Ikea furniture never had a chance here). Why, then, would you give a hoot about what a Serbian has to say?
Nikola Tesla, Emir Kusturica, Vlade Divac, Novak Djokovic, and if you’ve never heard of any of these people (or had but thought they were Russians), let me throw in one you’ve surely been made to memorize in your high school history class: Gavrilo Princip, the man who, put simply, single-handedly started the First World War.
I can assure you the likelihood of me single-handedly starting anything (except maybe a game of Rummy, though I’d probably end up needing both hands even for that) is slim to none. I am lazy, prone to long afternoon naps, likely to get drunk at lunch and ramble about politics or sports, short-tempered and extremely impatient, slow to forgive, and almost completely incapable of being polite. In a word: Serbian.
And it’s damn important to me to be me.