KNOB NOSTER, Missouri. For Zliewg Norblek, the dead of winter is always more painful than it is for most people, a fact he tries without success to conceal. “First Columbus Day, then Martin Luther King Day, and I have St. Patrick’s Day coming up,” he says over a lump in his throat. These are all holidays, this reporter asks–what’s so bad about that?
“There is nothing–no day–for Freedonian-Americans,” he says, biting his hand to fight back the tears. “My children will grow up thinking less of themselves, they already think less of me.”
Norblek’s complaint is a valid one, as the U.S. Congress has consistently refused to grant holidays to immigrants from fictional countries. “They’re lazy, they don’t write to elected officials or offer bribes the way other ethnic groups do,” says Emil Nostrand, a professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Chillicothe. “Yes fictional immigrants vote in Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia, but so do dead people and pets.”
Freedonia was formed after World War I from abandoned Sears Tool Sheds, windblown mobile homes scattered by a tornado, and a Six Flags Over Minsk amusement park that became insolvent. The metal of the rides was melted down to make the nation’s currency, leaving its first citizens with nothing to spend their money on. “For years the people walked around making change with each other,” says Nostrand. “Then they discovered that stamp collectors around the world hunger for cancelled postage from obscure third-world countries, and they’ve had a balance of payments surplus ever since.”
Part of the problem, say Washington lobbyists who have attempted to aid Freedonian-Americans on a sliding scale pro bono basis for $700 an hour, is that Freedonia hasn’t produced any heroes such as Christopher Columbus, Dr. King, or St. Patrick who could serve as symbolic representatives of their countrymen and women. Norblek insists this is a pretext, however, citing the valiant resistance offered by Kowlak Mailwke at the Battle of Blzieka in 1692. “Freedonian forces were retreating across the Valkeokwo River, with the Ruritanians in hot pursuit over the Bridge of Sorrowful Sighs and Eye-Rolling,” he says angrily. “Mailwke had the presence of mind to stand his ground and impose a 73 vladek toll to cross, and the Ruritanians turned tail and ran.”
For now, however, Freedonian-Americans suffer in silence, or at best express their anger and frustration under their breath. “It is about the dignity of all God’s children on this earth,” says Miroslik Venuvva as she emerges from St. Glzilsk’s Church in this small midwestern town, which boasts the largest concentration of Freedonian-Americans outside of Cazenovia, New York. What about France, known in ancient times as “Gaul,” this reporter asks; it has never had a day to honor the contributions its natives have made to American life. “Pah,” Venuvva says as she spits on the ground. “The French are a bunch of cheese-eating demi-weasels.”
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Hail, Freedonia!”