The American Wannabe Disorder [AWD]


Symptoms, prognosis, treatment

I have been meaning to write on this important topic ever since I wrote on the Arab Wannabe Syndrome (AWS) all those months ago. However, as it happened one thing or the other kept turning up, and I have been putting it off ever since. Which was very unfortunate because if anything, the American Wannabe Disorder (AWD) – at least in its earlier stages – is even more prevalent than the AWS (unlike the AWS, the AWD doesn’t discriminate across gender), and is arguably no less devastating in terms of effects, because not a few patients end up having advanced stages of the malaise.

The ailment. The AWS refers to a tendency on the part of the patient to behave in everyday life, consciously or unconsciously, like Americans. Since the patient is not in fact an American the affliction is characteristic of unmistakable fakeness. This fakeness clearly manifests itself even in cases where the patient has recently acquired American nationality.

Symptoms. One or two isolated symptoms, off and on, are universal; the symptoms warrant concern only when they occur in combination and persist for a while.

Early symptoms include a partiality for certain garments and words. ‘I love NY’ or ‘Florida’ (or the like) T-shirts usually don’t mean anything. Probably, neither does donning baseball caps with some such American symbol. However, if the patient wears the cap all the time, including indoors and after dark, then alarm bells should start ringing somewhere. At this stage, the patient will probably have started hanging out with friends instead of spending time with them.

Intermediate or more advanced symptoms include a strong preference for coffee (no milk) over tea. The patient is more interested in baseball than any local or international sport; and men and women, as far as he is concerned, are always guys and gals (guys and guys in feminist circles). Things are not ok any longer; they are cool. Nothing is good or wonderful anymore, everything is awesome. The patient has probably started wearing anything with a visible reference to the USA, regardless of whether he knows what it means. For instance, T-shirts announcing, ‘Watashiwa bakana America jin desu’ (I am a stupid American).

The terminal stage of AWS sees the patient refer to photocopy as Xerox copy; call the vacuum cleaner a Hoover, use “What’s up’ as a replacement of Hello or Salam, habitually finish breakfast coffee on the move using stainless-steel ‘travel’ coffee mugs. He doesn’t get anything done quickly, he wants it done ASAP. By now, a certain four letter word, or inflections thereof, have replaced all the indigenous swear words. By now he is going to the restroom with his basebell cap on (probably wearing it in bed as well). This is the definitive AWD symptom, unless the patient hasn’t come to terms with his bald head and the cap is a camouflage to hide his baldness. In which case the malaise is general low self-esteem but not AWD. By now he is probably starting and ending most monologues with, ‘Man’ and throwing in a Dude somewhere for good measure. As far as he is concerned, a woman is not beautiful any longer; instead she is hot. If the patient happens to be a woman, men are never handsome; they are cute.

Treatment. At any stage of the AWD the goal of the treatment is the same: namely, cultivation of a high self-esteem on the part of the patient. However, like any other disease, AWD is tackled best if diagnosed and treated early. The patient will need help however, because auto-suggestion rarely if ever helps.  Friends can sometimes profitably counsel the patient in the early stages of the ailment. They can remind him, for example, that it’s quite all right to have an accent (Punjabi, Pashto, Fauji, Karachi, etc) when it comes to what is essentially an acquired language, especially in view of the way he habitually violates the sanctity of his mother-tongue with impunity. However, only simpler cases are amenable to amateur therapy. The advanced stages are for trained psychiatrists and the patient should be made to seek professional medical assistance. The AWD can be highly contagious and therefore efforts to fight it not only help our loved ones but also the world at large.

P.S. The author wants to reiterate that he has absolutely nothing against baseball caps, awesome dudes, inflexions of f-words, hot girls, cute guys, and getting things done ASAP – all right, to be precise, nothing except cute guys. It’s just that when it comes to somebody suffering from the AWD, the fakeness levels absolutely go through the roof, and that can never be a good thing for anybody.






  1. “The Americans haven’t spoken English for years.” -George Bernard Shaw in Pygmalion.

Comments are closed.