I haven't done a Leaping Thought Wednesday in quite a while but today I felt like it. This one is built up of heard, observed and lived stuff.
1. My mother said she felt someone feeling up her foot underneath the dinner table. She and my father were attending a thousand dollar per head fundraiser in the Reagan era so, it stood to reason that she'd be flanked by a Texas oil millionaire on her right and one obscure, minor, but very rich Arab Royal, on her left. From the positioning, it was clear the Middle Eastern Croesus was the culprit.
What are you doing? she asked.
Trying to feel if you have bunions through your shoes.
Because women with bunions are great lovers.
My mother's response?
For you sir, I have no bunions!
2. Before I ever knew what my husband was all about, in those heady days of early romance when hopeful lovers want nothing more than to decipher the cryptographic meaning of every gesture, every eye-twinkle that is directed our way; when we are so very liable to spend hours re-playing and decoding the possible subtext of every haphazard smile and touch, I made a terrible and tactical mistake... I let him know I was falling for him.
3. He looked so hungry standing there. Oh, not the hungry of food mind you but, the I want something very badly kind of hungry. And what he wanted was her of course. That was patently obvious from the looks he was giving her. Had she been a food morsel, the "morsel" would long ago have been devoured. For her part, she looked like she couldn't wait to become his meal.
4. I never set out to be a bubble-wrap kind of mother. I really didn't. I'm intelligent enough to understand that over-sheltering can be counterproductive even, self-defeating to my desire to protect my son. In other words, I know that by constantly insulating, I might be exposing him to more harm. The problem is that there is no ruler by which to measure whether you are overdoing it until, hindsight is kind enough to give you a clue.
5. Newly arrived in Washington, at one of the first functions I ever attended in my mother's stead, my father introduced me to the dry-looking Brazilian Ambassador. Embaixador, may I present my daughter Milena to you? The man was so hard of hearing that he misunderstood. Your girlfriend Milena you say? Smiling widely, he shook my hand vigorously, Prazer em conhecê-la senhorita! and then he moved on before we could correct the mistake. For the rest of the evening I was the object of speculative looks and amused glances whenever I called my father "father."
6. We were going to die. I knew it. My mouth was so dry I could barely manage the whispers of entreaty I directed at my mother. Mami, please! stay here! please! Don't say anything...
Separated from my father and the other protesters, we had managed to run into the building's interior and close its metal gate behind us. The young man who'd been chasing us stood on the other side, dressed in the dreaded uniform of the paramilitary police. I could tell he was stoned out of his head. Like many in Noriega's army were wont to do in those days, he'd taken drugs before being sent out to attack the protesters.
My mother was so high on the adrenaline and anger of the moment, that I knew she was about to confront him. Probably tell him something to the tune of what a disgrace to his country he was. As if he would have cared for her browbeating, when all he wanted was to wield the power he thought he'd been given via the machine gun in his hands. Only the thought of what she might incite him to do to us, specifically me, stopped her in the end. I think that is perhaps the only reason we went home unhurt that afternoon. After a moment of staring tensely at each other, something else caught his attention. And just like that, he was gone. Off to try and shoot someone else for the day.
7. Of course I knew next to nothing about satellites when the job was handed over to me. Neither did anyone else there for that matter. But the conference had grown to such proportions, our list of luminaries who'd been invited to attend was so grand, that everyone was given extra tasks to handle. My own extra was the satellite feed. Desperate for some information I could present at the coordination meetings, I called every contact I had for help. Anyone who could explain coordinates to me or who could tell me how we could beam the feed live to all of the Latin American TV networks, was someone I wanted to talk to.
The flirty guy at the television station was the one who gave me the infamous term to use. "You see," he said, "We'll just have to place the truck with the dish outside, on the left hand side of the conference building and then we'll run a cable straight to your video camera. That way we'll be able to hit the bird with the cleanest signal possible." The bird? I asked. The bird, he clarified, was our satellite. Oh! I see - even though, I really didn't. And so I used the "hit the bird" term during my meetings in order to try and seem like I knew what the hell I was talking about. In the nature of how information trickles down without people knowing anything of what something might mean, I was stopped in every corridor for the next three days, to be questioned on our ability to shoot, trap and/or smack the bird.