The author eating a hot dog during his senior year in high school. (Foto: Cody McClain Brown) The author eating a hot dog during his senior year in high school. (Foto: Cody McClain Brown)

All I can remember was that his name was Pavo. He was tall, but to be fair, I’m short so everyone is ‘tall,’ and big, with a shaved head. With his accent, and toughness he fit the description of how I imagined someone from a former-something-country in Europe should look like.

One way or another we became friends. Not in the Croatian sense, but in the American sense, meaning we hung out. I think my friends and I felt bad for him because out of the whole United States he ended up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the place most of us were dreaming of escaping.

Also, he didn’t have a car and teenage life without a car in middle America is like purgatory. So, my friends and I picked him up a few times and we did what teenagers in Tulsa do. We drove around, went to a friend’s house, drove around, went downtown (which was empty after five o’clock), drove around, smoked cigarettes, walked around down town, and drove around.  

No questions asked 

I remember he made fun of us for smoking ultra light cigarettes. At one point comparing them to ‘fresh mountain air.’  Of course hanging out with Pavo didn’t inspire any of us to look at a map of the world and actually see where or what Croatia was. And I don’t remember asking him any questions about Croatia, like where is it? Or what is it? I can only assume this was because A) I didn’t want to sound ignorant; B) I was worried asking questions might be rude. I think American sometimes think people are ashamed to be from somewhere else; C) I was 18 and obviously an idiot. 

Ignorance is bliss 

Of course by remaining ignorant about Croatia, my mind was like a blank slate when I met my wife seven years later. So blank I still believed Croatia was part of Russia! (Let’s hear it for Oklahoma public education!) As such, thoughts of Pavo have only entered my head once or twice since moving here. As the picture attached to this post can attest, it’s probably better that I’ve forgotten about being 18. Yep, that’s how I looked when I hung out the Pavo. Bleached. Blond. Hair? What was I thinking? The late 1990s were a cruel time for fashion and teenagers. 

But the other day the memory of Pavo entered my head and now as I have a wide (ish) audience with this blog, and you know, the Internet I thought maybe someone reading this might know Pavo. So, if you know a guy named Pavo who went to Edison High School in Tulsa Oklahoma from 1997-1998, let me know. And Pavo if you’re reading this Javi se! Možemo ići na kavu!