For about ten years while living in the United States I had felt no desire to become an American citizen. I had all the rights of a citizen except the right to vote. And I did not miss the obligation of jury service.
Until the second notice for jury duty arrived, requiring my alien registration number. OK, I felt a little guilty.
Then my wife and I decided to have children, and things changed for me. Although my initial preference was to raise them in England, we decided to stay in New York. At that point I started to feel who am I kidding? Settle down and raise children? So I started the process, paperwork, exam, interview.
But the night before I was to be sworn in, Debbie went into labor. I was hardly going to leave her side, so I called the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and explained the situation. They were very nice and congratulated us, and said to send them a letter. Registered.
Two months later, at the rescheduled date in the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, the day arrived. I was wearing my best suit, and carrying my newborn son on my right shoulder. Right as I was about to swear to bear arms in defense of the Constitution and laws of the United States, the most enormous sound came from his rear end and echoed around the courtroom.
That’s my son, conscientious objector from the start.
When this story was published many years later, a British friend pointed out that I had managed to get a fart joke into the the Guardian.