Whispers, Rumours, and Foreshadowings, or, I Get Along
One of the things that has always struck me about Caracas is its nature as a city of rumour, of gossip, of misdirected forebodings and predictions. Certain oracles predict the collapse of society on this date, the fall of the Chavez as deduced from the toss of seashells, the scent on the wind, the rise and fall of the moon and tides. The machinations over the presidency of Hugo Chavez have perhaps exacerbated this quality, but it also seems to be fundamentally linked to the nature of the place: from gossiping cachifas and matrons and overheard conversations on the Metro to the television chat shows and newspapers and someone’s cousin in the army or sister at PDVSA. I am reluctant to deduce whether this is a Latin or Venezuelan or specifically Caraqueño trait, although it has always seemed most pronounced in that wonderful and horrible city of glass and highways and crushing poverty and elegance.
Once, Mr. Gordo and I were practically driven into a panic over the rumour of a violent protest that was blocking our return to his brother Quique’s house for dinner. Manically shopping for food whilst at the same time trying to figure out a way around the rumoured protest on a dodgy cell phone, we drove ourselves into an exhausting hysteria, only to learn, upon returning to the house, that the whole thing was untrue. We collapsed into a neurasthenic funk, much to Quique’s consternation, as we had returned with nothing for dinner, but lots of strange things: Guayaba Yoplait, harina pan but no meat, candy bars, deodorant. A short list of the desired and purportedly necessary, but in the end a collection of rather random items grabbed quickly that, together, would not provide a decent meal.
I relate this story only to speak to the disjointed collection of events and moments which have typified my life of late: comings and goings and rumours and possibilities and unpleasant encounters that have been unsettling, as well as glimpses of presents and futures that entice, as the winter sun sinks low on the horizon and the light grows paler. These are thoughts not necessarily connected, traces to protect the guilty, including yours truly.
Hostess with the Mostest, or, An Embarrassment of Riches Over the past three and a half weeks, three dear friends (La Antropóloga, Mahku, and Skanque Huore) and Mr. Gordo himself have whirled through Cold City, changing a relative social desert into a verdant oasis of brunches, schlepping, and mandatory touring. Visitors always force you to look at yourself from the outside, a different perspective. What has been most striking about these visits from “home” is the impression visitors invariably pronounce: that I look assimilated, comfortable, at home, in Cold City. Whether this is a function of my adoption of Fleece wear or my magpie tendency to pick up local accents to a degree above and beyond what even the locals speak, I’m not sure. But it has made me think a bit about my own acculturation into the Cold City scene, both literal and figurative. This past weekend, with Skanque Huore in town, we toured the sites that speak to her own peculiar orientations: the small, empty Masonic museum, the cathedral and various churches, good restaurants, as well as a cold night spent watching Serial Killer documentaries at home, ruined when we decided to actually go out in the cold for a meal, as opposed to frozen pot pies and more Serial Killer dramas. As we surveyed the view from the cathedral steps, of a roaring interstate and dead trees, she pronounced she liked Cold City a lot. Me, I am adjusting. But again, here, the magpie tendency for deep stealth, which Skanque Huore noticed in particular in my accent (which as she made more of became stronger and stronger), and attributed to survival instinct: so local you’d never be able to tell. A similar process happened in Montréal, all of which has resulted in my spoken voice, especially when I am nervous, assuming a myriad of accents sliding along a peculiar scale: Canadian, Quebecker, Californian, New York Jew, plumy Prestigious U, Cold Place elongations. It’s a bit hair-raising.
Our Lady of Hearing, or, Imagine the Arguments We’ll Have Now that He Can HEAR The weekend after Mr. Gordo visited Cold City, he had a surgery in New York to restore the hearing in his left ear, which was functionally deaf, and the outpatient procedure was performed without a hitch, meaning that now Mr. Gordo is a cyborg. Over the summer, I accompanied him to his meetings with the various surgeons to discuss the procedure, implications, and costs, but in the end was unable to be in New York with him for the actual surgery, although the Beautiful Lisa came down from Massachusetts to attend to him over the weekend. Imagine my disturbance when, after he had been wheeled into surgery, the Beautiful Lisa pronounced over the telephone that she was off to see a movie! In any event, all went well, although we are awaiting the results of his post-operative visit to the surgeon and hearing test to see if it was successful. (Also, now Mr. Gordo has 80% hearing in that ear, which means, ideally, no more screaming on the phone and strange encounters in public, when people say something to his left ear and when he doesn’t respond, get huffy.)
redacción personal On second thought, some things are better left unsaid...
Hopes and Dreams Yes, Virginia, I've been reading Variety. Who isn't this time of year?
Birthday, or, How Old Do You Think I Am? Sometime during this period, I turned 38. 3-8. Now I feel like I’ve taken all my clothes off. Really, getting older has not been terribly traumatic, perhaps because I still look rather youthful, but birthdays, aside from being non-events, do give one a pause, a moment of reassessment best left unexamined, ultimately. Age is more than just a number, unfortunately, and one can so easily get caught up in counting the remaining years rather than thinking of more joyous things, like trips to Madrid, for instance.
I Get Along This weekend, I dropped off Skanque at the local contemporary art box and went to a baby shower for M. and her paramour J., one of the new modern baby showers that are mixed gender (although Skanque gracefully demurred, as she can’t stand the sight of infants or even the implication of babies, she is so modern). There, although I knew hardly anyone but the mother-to-be, I passed a pleasant couple of hours, avidly discussing child-rearing with the grandmother-to-be and a group of older women, while the “men” watched football. My girl G-Money, visiting from her sabbatical and the one who introduced me to the impending mother, arrived in full flower, looking fabulous in a seventies-style wrap dress with her dangerous curves, enough to make even a dedicated Sodomite like myself reconsider some life choices. Wedged on the couch between G-Money and Grandma, I thought, well, this is life, maybe not the one you imagined you’d have, but one nonetheless. So, go with it.