He has eaten a Gino's hamburger, bought a Bloomingdale's sweater, grown to like Hee Haw on television. He rides a Metrobus to school, plays tennis and gripes about prices. He liked Star Wars, but not as much as Jaws.
One would not seem much more 1977 American. And that, indeed, is Michael Jones's aim. But for the moment, and perhaps for many moments to come, he is only provisionally Michael, provisionally Jones and provisionally American.
Legally he is Korean - born Su-Hwan Choe 30 years ago, orphaned nine years ago, the holder of a series of menial jobs in Seoul ever since.
For the last two years he has been the object of the tireless efforts of an Alexandria couple, Thomas and Catherine Jones. Wanting only help Michael at first, the Joneses ended up adopting him as their only child this fall.
Michael has been in the U.S. since late July. He was formally adopted by the Joneses Sept. 12. He has lived with them in their Old Town Alexandria town house ever since and is enrolled in an English as-a-foreign-language course at George Washington University.
But the bubble could burst at any time in the next year.
Despite two years of legal haggling, Michael Jones is not yet a U.S. citizen. He can become one only if the Senate passes a special bill on his behalf before it adjourns late next summer. Although Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. (I-Va) is preparing such a bill, Michael's visitor's visa expires this month, after which immigration authorities are expected to place him in "deportable status."
While deportable status is a technically and does not mean "about to be deported," the uncertainty of the situation is wearing for all three Joneses. "He worries about it," says Catherine Jones of her son. To be sent back to Korea "would make me feeling a little hurt," adds Michael.
Still, it is no small wonder that Michael Jones is in the U.S. at all. And for his parents - married 20 years, otherwise childless - it is no small adjustment.
Su-Hwan Choe first started on the road to becoming Michael Jones two years ago around the pool of the officers' club at a U.S. Army base in Seoul.
He was working as a lifeguard when Col. Thomas Jones wandered by, in search of a tennis partner. The two men struck up a game, and soon, a friendship.
"He was very wary about playing tennis because he said he wasn't very good," recalled Col. Jones, 47, one recent evening around the family fireplace. "And he was shy, like so many Koreans. I did it the American way; I wanted to know about his family and all that."
What Col. Jones learned was that his friend had ambition, but little luck.
To get a good job in Korea depends almost completely on having the help of a father, and Michael's had died when he was six. He had uncles and male cousins, but under the Korean system, they could be of little help.
In addition, Michael had left college, it was almost impossible to return, because 100 people apply for every one who is admitted.
Col. Jones, who was chief of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command in Seoul, began to write to his wife, the assistant librarian at GWU, about his young friend's situation. Slowly, the couple began to take his situation - and him - to heart.
They did not consider adopting Michael until quite a while later. At first, they planned to help him financially and provide him with a place to live in the U.S. But the immediate, and nearly insurmountable, problem was helping Michael out of Korea.
Immigration through the U.S. Embassy was out. All quotas had been filled, and waiting lists were five years long in some categories. Adoption, too, appeared difficult, because Micheal's age far exceeded both Korea's and Virginia's limit of 18. But the Joneses thought that would be a technicality easily brushed aside.
They found out otherwise. "Everyone was very polite," recalled Col. Jones, "but they had the attitude that, somewhere in what you're telling them, you're trying to sell them a used car."
Fortunately, Col. Jones had never officially changed his legal residence from Pennsylvania, his birthplace, to Virginia. So the Joneses were able to file for adoption in Franklin, Pa., where no upper age limit exists.
But Michael had to be present at the proceeding, and he still had no way to leave Korea. So last December, Col. Jones asked Rep. Herbert E. Harris (D-Va.) to introduce a private bill that would allow Michael a visitor's visa. The bill passed, and Michael was in Franklin in September when his adoption became official.
Ever since, the three Joneses have been engaged in a crash English course. Michael, a slight, pensive man, has progressed, but his speech is choppy, his vocabulary sketchy, his sentences seldom ten words long.
Meanwhile, his parents had to adjust to some Korean customs their son automatically observes.
Despite their urging, he will not call them Tom and Cathy. He prefers "United States Father" and "United States Mother," intending them as terms of respect.
He always asks permission before smoking cigarettes in front of them. In Korea, one never smokes in the presence of one's parents.
And Michael sometimes seems reluctant to be a burden. A rotten tooth caused him great pain for five days this fall before he first mentioned it to Mrs. Jones. She promptly took him to a dentist.
Meanwhile, American has been a visual wonderland for Michael. He says he especially loves "the woods and trees - very pretty." He admits to being impressed by the range of food and consumer goods. As for girls, he smiles and says he doesn't know about that yet.
For Tom and Cathy Jones, Michael's arrival has been similar in some ways to the arrival of a new born child.
"We find ourselves talking about Michael with our friends a great deal," said Mrs. Jones, 41, who also carries her son's picture. Meanwhile, the son's little victories become big ones for his parents. The day he passed the Virginia driver's license exam, and the day he successfully asked directions on the bus, "we were proud," said Col. Jones.
The future could bring a separation, though, and even if Michael is allowed to stay here, it will probably hold difficulties. Still, said Mrs. Jones, "I don't think Michael would ever be a disapointment.
"You know, we thought about this and felt that people had helped us, with nothing in return. We felt that we had never done anything for anybody in the 20 years we'd been married."
"As you do this," her husband added, "you're making a commitment to yourself, a commitment to the future."
The first acid test of Michael's adjustment came two weeks ago. Another driver cut sharply in front of the family car. Muttered Michael, who had just learned the other meaning of the word in time for Thanksgiving: "You turkey!"
Michael Jones, American, is learning fast.