A Day Turned Sour
We sat around in the tent all day. Talking business. Doing nothing. The first wife, who wore bright clothes, played a card game with the kids. Don't they notice the cards have pictures of Asian pinup girls? The second wife wore all black. Why is she wearing black? Can't she wear color like the first wife? While the first wife has a life of leisure, the second does the work. The second wife braided my hair, tight to my head, parting it with a wire and working in sand. Why am I not thinking about how much damage this is doing to my hair and how hard it will be to get all the sand off my scalp? Do I know I'll have to get the breakage cut off as soon as I get back? My head becomes the center of attention for half the afternoon. It's made clear to me that I should pay the second wife to show gratitude. I look in a hand mirror and pay her. It feels like dirty money. We drink tea from small cups. It was entirely too much lounging around, but that was my day.
At night, we returned for dinner. And everything went sour. It was awful. First the guy laid into me about looking, but not buying crafts. Then he started rambling about how I could get him a visa to visit the U.S. to sell crafts. Like I could get him a visa. I tried to explain that it doesn't work that way. After that, he flat out yelled at me for not eating enough. He said he had bought a goat for 60,000 francs and killed it and now I wasn't eating. Hey, I hardly eat any meat. And I didn't tell him to kill the damn goat. If it were up to me, I wouldn't eat ANY goat. And then, he said a woman who lives in my city said my luggage had been too full to carry copy books from the U.S. for his kids to go to school. I don't even know what kind of copy books he was talking about. He needed 73 of them for all of their subjects. Yeah, right, he needed 73. He carefully figured the cost out on paper, to prove how much he'd need so the kids could go to school next week. Resist the urge to give him any money. He's a creep.
Throughout the evening, my mind was screaming, escape, escape! My level of discomfort was unnerving. This is not cultural, this guy is out of line. And, damn it, in the end I wound up giving him money.