"In America Mayakovsky felt hopelessly limited by his inability to speak English. He stayed close to Burliuk whenever possible, using him as an interpreter, but there were many awkward moments, for example, the New York party Mayakovsky later described:
"But just consider my situation in America. A poet’s been invited. They’ve been told he’s a genius. A genius – that’s even better than being well known. I arrive and right off I say, "Gif me pliz sam tee."
They serve me. I wait a bit and then, "Gif me pliz..."
They serve me again.
And I keep it up, varying the intonation and phrasing.
"Gif me de sam tee, sam tee de gif me." I say my say.
The evening proceeds.
Respectful old fellows listen reverentially. "There’s a Russian for you. Doesn’t waste words. He’s a thinker ... Tolstoy ... The North."
But the ladies move away when they hear for the hundredth time the same request for tea, even though it’s enunciated in a pleasant bass voice. And the gentlemen distribute themselves in the corners of the room laughing at my expense.
So I shout to Burliuk: "You translate this for them. Tell them that if they knew Russian I could, without even dirtying my shirtfront, nail them with my tongue to the cross of their own suspenders, that I could roast this whole collection of insects on the sharp turnspit of my tongue."
And the honest Burliuk translates. "My eminent friend Vladimir Vladimirovich would like some more tea."