Before coming to America in 1976, I had to undergo a little test, TESL, which stood for Test of English as a Second Language. My preparation was pretty iffy:

The town in which I grew up was divided along many lines—believers and nonbelievers, communists and anticommunists, Serbs and Croats (and Czechs)—but these were all superficial divisions. The really deep and substantial one was between alcoholics and nonalcoholics. I was informed early on that I belonged to the nonalcoholic camp. My father, mother, and siblings—none of them drank. It was a little different with my uncles, one of whom fell off a barn after drinking plum brandy and broke his neck, and another who kept a vineyard and was always flush faced, quiet, and jovial, selling suits in the center store. In adolescence I didn’t drink at all, and I abhorred some of my friends who did. I heard they got together, drank beer and brandy, and passed out. Others went to village fairs, had fistfights and got drunk and had sex with village maidens in haystacks.
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