spaghetti in tomato/olive/bok choy sauce

just a short quick trip
to the store to buy some tunes
as the day cools off

"Brasileiro?" she asks me, because I was standing in the "Latin" music section at the west-side Borders looking in the 3 rows devoted to Brazilian music. She had shoulder-length frizzy ringlets and a light-chocolate complexion and large pretty eyes and pronounced her "r" as an "h" the way real Brazilians do.
"Uh, no, just love the music," I reply, stupidly. I admit that I was a little rushed, I wasn't really supposed to be stopping at Borders on my way home from work; Liza sounded tired, we had someone coming over at 6:30, both kids wilding out at home, etc. So I was just on my way out when this nice person said hi. But I continue, because I'm always interested: "You?"
"From where?"
"Ah, my wife has a friend from Sao Paulo. I always wanted to go."
"You should! Why don't you?"
"I think my wife's afraid I'll never come back." That part is true, except I don't think she'd mind moving either. Not at this point in U.S. history.

time just ticks like mad
not looking to right or left
hurtling to sundown

Her name is Beatriz. My name is Matt. Hello. Hello. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you.
She explains that she's looking for Maria Rita, who has just won all the Latin Grammy Awards. I show her the Rosa Passos, not the same though. I say something about how I am trying to work on my Portuguese but don't really know it at all.
"My husband speaks Portuguese! I'm sure he'd be happy to practice with someone!" She whips out an impressive hand-held/wallet/thingie. "I have a card here somewhere----"
"Oh, cool," I say, because I'm honestly interested. But I really have to get out of here, I really was on my way out....
"Darn, all out of cards. Here, I'll just write something out for you, I'll get some paper." She starts to make her way over to the desk in the music department, where not even the hot Chinese woman is waiting boredly to answer nobody's questions tonight.
And that's where I make a bad decision. Hence the writing of this entry in a rather public journal.

always hear footsteps,
even when nothing is wrong;
it's my life long curse

Beatriz, I'm sorry I told you I had to go and then left without getting your husband's phone number. I know it must have looked like I wanted to get away from you--but who would want to get away from you, your warmth, your intelligence, your knowledge of Brazil and its music and its fascinating culture? I didn't, Beatriz, not even for a minute. You looked hurt when I begged off, claiming time was getting late, because who says that?
But that's the thing. I stop off at record stores and bookstores sometimes on the way home from work or the store or haircuts. The stops are quick, measured, timed to the second--no one ever talks to me or interrupts me, so it always works out. When I manage to find something cheap or wonderful, and I buy it and get home in time to avoid suspicion or hard feelings, it's like the perfect crime.
Had I just arrived in the Borders store, Beatriz, I would gladly have stayed to talk with you, and to have gotten your husband's number, and to have listened to the Rosa Passos album. But I'd already been there, trying to decide if that Carlinhos Brown best-of was worth it (no, already have most of it) or if I needed yet another live Gilberto Gil record, or maybe Daniela Mercury's Eletrodomestico since I love Carnaval Eletronico so much. Wasted my time, had to go, don't wanna disturb the equilibrium.
But my sad little American clock-watching minute-grubbing non-macho panic set in, and I skipped even though I knew it hurt your feelings. How much longer would it have taken? Not that much longer probably. But hot Chinese girl not being at her post made me doubt that, and I knew I'd get sucked into talking more to you, Beatriz, probably talk for minutes and minutes....
....and then the whole thing's over. All the little micro-trips, all the sneaked-out $8.00 or $5.00 or $2.95 amazing used store finds (I found Carlinhos' Alfagamabetizado, for which I'd searched for years, for ONE DOLLAR a month ago), all my "freedom," gone.
You'll never read this, Beatriz, probably never. But I just wanted to say that the guy who made you feel bad in the Borders store today, the guy who seemed so nice but then turned out to be just another cold-fish North American, the guy who seemed to misinterpret your friendship as something more or maybe just didn't like you or had no real love for Brazil or something: well, that guy was me. And I really DID have to take off.
But I should have stayed.

back into my car
driving into setting sun
squint, put down visor


On the way out, I saw my wife's aunt looking at some books. I had to get by her unnoticed too, or the whole game was up. I did a weird kind of hopping motion past her so she wouldn't see my face, bolted out the door and into my car, and was into my sunglasses and out of the parking lot before she was any the wiser. I'm good at this. But, as I am learning, I'm a little too good for my own good.

1 comment:

nope said...


I'm sorry for being intrusive in to your blog. But I am Melissa and I am a mother of two that is just trying to get out of an incredible financial debt. See my hubby is away in Iraq trying to protect this great country that we live in, and I am at home with our two kids telling bill collectors please be patiant. When my husband returns from war we will beable to catch up on our payments. We have already had are 2001 Ford repossessed from the bank, and are now down to a 83 buick that is rusted from front to back and the heater don't work, and tire tax is due in November.

I'm not asking for your pitty because we got our ownselfs into this mess but we would love you and thank you in our prayers if you would just keep this link on your blog for others to view.

God Bless You.

Melissa K. W.
To see my family view this page. My Family

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