The party at the Ambassador’s house had just begun. It was a cocktail party, mingle-shmingle type. I was lousy at it, always had been. I seemed hermetic to any social skills, none had ever managed to enter my ’lebensraum’. I had no choice, though, had to be at that party. The ‘boss’ had sent me even though I had tried to explain the problem and make him understand it would get him nowhere since I completely lacked the capacity to interract with strangers. He said: “Doesn’t matter. Don’t speak. Just listen.”
And so here I was trying my best to look invisible trying my best to enter the bushes, the walls, avoiding eye contact at all price, even that of bumping into someone and breaking his glass. After apologizing profusely and as best as I could, looking everywhere but in the man’s eyes, cutting my hand with a piece of glass as I picked it up, dropping the contents of my glass onto the floor in the process, and staining my trousers, I almost slipped and fell over the liquid spilled . The very man who’s glass I broke prevented me from falling. Unfortunately, for that is when the real problem started: he initiated a conversation. He caught me off guard. As he was asking me if my hand was fine, he assured me there was nothing to feel bad about, neither the broken glass nor the stain on the bottom of his left leg, he shook my hand strongly and slipped me his business card.
He was the Ambassador.
The glass I had broken was his the floor I had spoiled was his. To make things worse he seemed to have taken a liking to me. God knows why or how. I had said nothing, but “I am so sorry, please accept my apologies, all my excuses”.
He was taller than me by at least two heads so that he had to bend a bit to talk to me, while I was trying my best to look manly too even if I was standing on my tiptoes by now.
I hate those cocktail parties. Give me my computer anytime, all the time, but not that.
The Ambassador was now telling me he had just arrived in the country but already loved it and knew he would fit in just fine and love it. I nodded and smiled, hoping he would be the Ambassador he was supposed to be and go mingle somewhere else. But he did not move.
The waitress arrived with a broom and bucket to clean the mess I had made. I remember thinking how cute she was when I heard him tell me aloud: “Don’t you mind these people’s BO.?” And to the girl: “Finally! What took you so long to bring the bucket? You people are so lazy!”
I was so shocked I did not say a word. What did he mean by ’those people’! The servants? The cleaners? What did he say! B.O.?
As the girl left he pinched her ass and told me the only thing they were good at was giving B.J.’s. “And” he added, cracking up as he said it “asking for more money”.
Before I could move he took me by the hand and told me in a confidential manner that he was no racist but, winking at me, he added I had to admit some races were better than others, and with another wink, that some gender was better at performing certain tasks than others regardless of their race, even though in the sex arena, there definitely were racial differences in the prowesses’ aptitude. Another cackling laugh, another glass snatched off a passing tray. “If only those trays could be flying alone with the drinks, if only we did not need those dark hands to carry them. And not grateful for a thing! When I think about everything our country does to help them and look at them! Just look! Nowhere! Nowhere and they want to bomb us! Ungrateful beings that they are. My wife teaches their children once a week, on a voluntary basis of course, and they don’t always come. They are offered a golden opportunity to learn from the best and they are so thick and dumb they don’t even appreciate it.”
Luckily, we were joined by other diplomats. Dark skinned ones. I was wondering whether my host would be able to control himself or if he would continue his train of thought.
He did not, he only behaved as someone who thinks they know how they should behave in our world’s new reality. He introduced me to his other guests – “how the hell did he know who I was?- congratulated them both on their English, asking where they had learned it, faking excitement when they told him it was their mother-tongue and that they were part of the British delegation. They left us quickly, giving me looks of pity as they did. I was starting to feel nauseous and wished I knew how to behave and knew how to run away. He had put his hand on my shoulder and told me I was lucky I was different from the rest of them, educated and all. He was about to tell me about his sexual morning exercise with one of the other not so lucky locals when we were joined by what appeared to be his wife. She seemed to be made of ice. She smiled at me as her eyes shot me in the forehead. Condescendingly, she presented me her hand to shake or kiss, I was having a hard time figuring out. Her look changed and warmed when her husband told her who I was. She saw the gold tingle, the oil flow and the diamonds shine and managed to find me more likeable. I was feeling so nauseous by then. I had to go. I really had to escape this ordeal. As luck would have it, the wife came to take her husband away to give the speech “we had all been waiting for”, thanking my government, my father and I for their help and cooperation in the fight against racism and poverty. Yes! Together we would eradicate malaria.
He was drooling some more inanities about blood diamonds and AIDS as I left the scene unseen, frustrated and oh-so saddened.